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NOIR TORPEDO VINCE EDWARDS KILLS IN 'MURDER BY CONTRACT'

Title: MURDER BY CONTRACT Year: 1958 Rating: ***1/2

Deliberately sparse and slow-paced, unpretentiously stylized film noir with a solitary jazz guitar played to a continuous phantom metronome, somewhat like THE THIRD MAN theme only more in the background of a picture whose main characters are, in a way, in the background...

Particularly Vince Edwards, one of the strangest, most eccentric cinematic hit men ever while taking his sweet time for a big job following a nifty montage of smaller gigs, ranging from a deadly barber shop to an undercover hospital visit... and always returning back to his shabby apartment room, stilted with hours of frigid meantime...

Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with Herschel Bernardi and Phillip Pie

Until hitting the road — and what's progressed from the dated, idealistic crime doesn't pay narration is doubly replaced (and thus regressed) with two accountant-type mobsters of the unseen main boss...

Not only babysitting Edwards while meticulously planning an important Los Angeles hit, but they — in particular an opinionated Phillip Pine compared to a more patient Herschel Bernardi — won't stop rushing our handsome assassin, as coolly subdued as the very film he's in...

Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT

But that massive MURDER BY CONTRACT payday's much tougher than he thought: to kill a woman holed-up in a semi-rural home, encumbered with the theory that females are unpredictable targets and, in a rather hackneyed, overused plot-line, she's about to testify against a mobster aka whoever hired Edwards in the first place...

Overall the best scenes have our man going from random locations, alone or deep in concentration, either before or after meeting those comparably sophisticated Roman Chorus goons that, had they not been around we'd learn more about a killer whose only real contentment occurs through deliberating isolation, and is where director Irving Lerner also seems more at home... without so much noisy expository distraction.

Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT  with Michael Granger
From MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with Herschel Bernardi and Phillip Pie
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with Herschel Bernardi and Phillip Pie
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with Herschel Bernardi and Phillip Pie
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
MURDER BY CONTRACT with call girl Kathie Browne
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with call girl Kathie Browne
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with call girl Kathie Browne
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with call girl Kathie Browne
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with call girl Kathie Browne
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT with Herschel Bernardi and Phillip Pie
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Prime target Caprice Toriel in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Steven Ritch in MURDER BY CONTRACT
Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT

Vince Edwards in MURDER BY CONTRACT

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