Notes On: This Gun For Hire (Laurie Dix)
A story of greed, murder and money. Classic noir.
Alan Ladd got paid off by a rich club owner in marked bills to retrieve some information wanted by an old man. The rich club owner hires Veronica Lake to work in his club. Her boyfriend is a policeman investigating the case of the stolen bills. When Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake cross paths, she gets pulled into his world and they must protect each other.
Clever intertwining stories make this a great noir, bordering on the traditional rules of farce. People being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the audience knowing more of what’s going on than the characters and paths crossing to create incidents.
Once you learn that the film was based on a book by Graham Greene, the twists and intricate plot are not surprising. What interests me about this film particularly is the callback to the song and dance routines; particularly in this scene, which is wonderfully charming, and works in a way, but seems odd to have a moment of almost vaudevillian sketch in the middle of a film revolving around murder.
The song in that scene is also the main theme for the score for the entire film, being revisited throughout in various forms.
This is not what I would class as a classic noir, as it does not adhere to a lot of the traditional tropes of noir (expressionist lighting, voiceover, etc) but it does work as a reflection of the American state of mind in the 40’s, which is what the essence of noir really is.
Essentially it comes down to good stories, well told in a stylish and stylistic manner.