This Gun for Hire (1942) - Rotten Tomatoes

This Gun for Hire (1942)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Though billed fourth in This Gun For Hire, Alan Ladd was catapulted to stardom in the role of Phillip Raven, a ruthless professional killer with a long-suppressed streak of decency. After successfully pulling off his latest murder, Raven reports to his boss, effeminate fifth columnist Willard Gates (Laird Cregar). He collects his $1000 fee, only to discover later that Gates has double-crossed him with marked bills. This was done at the behest of Gates' boss, crooked business executive Alvin Bewster (Tully Marshall), who wants no loose ends left around to connect him with a plot to sell poison gas to the Axis. As Raven ducks and dodges the police, detective Michael Crane (Robert Preston) is hot on the trail of Bewster and Gates. Crane talks his girlfriend, nightclub singer-musician Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake), into taking a job at Gates' nightclub. While on the train to the club, Ellen makes the acquaintance of the escaping Raven. Gates boards the train, spots Ellen innocently sitting next to Raven, and assumes that the two are in cahoots. Later, Gates kidnaps Ellen and spirits her away to his mansion, intending to do away with her the first chance he gets. Instead, Raven, still seeking revenge for being set up, bursts into the mansion in search of Gates. Having previously been impressed by Ellen's kindness, he rescues her, though he intends using her as hostage should the police catch up with him. As they hide out together in the rail yards, Ellen and Raven get to know each other. Learning of Raven's miserable, abusive childhood, Ellen tries to chip away his murderous veneer, hoping to reform him. But when the cops arrive, Raven reverts to his instincts, shooting his way out of his hiding place. As Crane escorts Ellen out of harm's way, Raven rushes towards a bloody showdown with Bewster and Gates. Based on Graham Greene's A Gun For Sale, This Gun For Hire was remade in 1958 as Short Cut to Hell, then again under the original title as a 1990 made-for-TV film.

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Alan Ladd
as Philip Raven
Laird Cregar
as Willard Gates
Veronica Lake
as Ellen Graham
Robert Preston
as Det. Michael Crane
Tully Marshall
as Alvin Brewster
Harry Shannon
as Steve Finnerty
Frank Ferguson
as Albert Baker
Bernadene Hayes
as Baker's Secretary
Jim Farley
as Night Watchman
Vivita Campbell
as Crippled Girl
Roger Imhof
as Sen. Burnett
Victor Kilian
as Brewster's Secretary
Olin Howland
as Blair Fletcher
Emmett Vogan
as Charlie
Chester Clute
as Mr. Stewart
Dickie Moore
as Young Raven in Cut Dream Sequence
Charles Arnt
as Will Gates
Virginia Farmer
as Woman in Shop
Clem Bevans
as Scissor Grinder
Harry Hayden
as Restaurant Manager
Tim Ryan
as Weems
Yvonne De Carlo
as Show Girl
Edwin Stanley
as Police Captain
Pedro de Cordoba
as Steve Finnerty
Phil Tead
as Machinist
Charles R. Moore
as Dining Car Waiter
Pat O'Malley
as Conductor
Sarah Padden
as Mrs. Mason
Richard Webb
as Young Man
Frances Morris
as Receptionist
Cyril Ring
as Waiter
Lora Lee
as Girl in Car
William Cabanne
as Laundry Truck Driver
Charles C. Wilson
as Police Captain
Mary Davenport
as Salesgirl
Earle Dewey
as Mr. Collins
Lynda Grey
as Gates' Secretary
Dick Rush
as Lt. Clark
Elliott Sullivan
as Officer Glennon
Don Barclay
as Piano Player
Hermine Sterler
as Raven's Aunt
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Critic Reviews for This Gun for Hire

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (2)

An excellent thriller.

May 26, 2021 | Full Review…

The film's thrilling bullet-laden finale, fast pace and lovely black-and-white photography more than makes up for some of the overt misogyny that was common in this genre and era.

February 12, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A sparse, harsh noir...

March 2, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

There's a lot to unpack...And perhaps this is the very reason why This Gun for Hire has endured for as long as it has. It's a complex noir where rooting for a 'hero' doesn't have a clear line of sight.

September 15, 2020 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Catapulted Alan Ladd to stardom, established Ladd and Veronica Lake as a screen team and is just plain as close to a perfect representation of film noir as you're likely to get.

October 29, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Well acted crime melodrama that catapulted Alan Ladd to major stardom.

January 20, 2013 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for This Gun for Hire


A killer for hire hunts down the men who double crossed him in the company of a beautiful night club singer with the police in hot pursuit. This Gun For Hire was a BIG disappointment for me. Touted as a Film Noir classic, it really seemed to me to be a trashy, crowd pleasing cash in rather than the real thing. In the win column, Alan Ladd is pretty good as the killer, it's nicely shot and I'll never resent having to watch Veronica Lake do pretty much anything. On the down side, she looks about as comfortable as a prospector being ordered to dance by a gun toting Jack Palance when doing her faintly embarrassing magic/musical numbers and the plot is just a load of ludicrous contrivances punctuated with piss weak dialogue and hammy performances. But the worst offender for me was Frank Tuttle who directs what should be a gritty crime drama like a cheesy haunted house B-movie. Maybe worth it for completists, but there are much better examples of Noir out there and I frankly don't understand why this film has the reputation it enjoys.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A good forties film noir.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Alan Ladd is a patriotic hit man with a soft spot for cats in this war era film noir classic. A layered storyline emphasizes different levels of good and evil by pitting a killer against a spineless opportunist who works for a Japanese sympathizer who is pursued by a senator who recruits a beautiful magician to gather information, not knowing that she's in love with a cop who is on the trail of the killer who has been framed for a robbery by the opportunist under orders of the sympathizer. (Whew!)

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

This Gun for Hire Quotes

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