Murder by Contract

V'18

Murder by Contract

Irving Lerner
USA, 1958
81min, OF

Bild: Sammlung Österreichisches Filmmuseum  Bild: Sammlung Österreichisches Filmmuseum

Murder by Contract

Irving Lerner
USA, 1958
, 81min, OF

Cast: 
Vince Edwards
Phillip Pine
Herschel Bernardi
Caprice Toriel
Michael Granger
Kathie Browne
Joseph Mell
Screenplay: 
Ben Simcoe
Camera: 
Lucien Ballard
Composer: 
Perry Botkin Sr.

Production: 
Columbia Pictures
Format: 
35 mm
Black/White

At the time of MURDER BY CONTRACT’s production the double-feature as an institution was gradually coming to an end. The film tells a story that runs closely parallel to this change. A pedantic but shrewd petty-bourgeois and compulsive character hires himself out as a contract killer. But he doesn’t succeed in accomplishing his mission. His victim is a woman who is the key witness in a trial and very well guarded. We see her at home, playing the piano. The killer approaches her from behind to strangle her but doesn’t have the heart to do it. His client then puts two men on him while the killer in turn searches for the client he now wants to kill. The film plays through the dialectics of the relationship between subject and object as conveyed by a tool that triggers a process in which all positions are exchanged. The object becomes the tool and the tool wants to become the subject. A catastrophe of Hegelian dimensions. At the same time, MURDER BY CONTRACT is an example of a B-movie liberated from the slavery of large-scale productions, that for Hollywood are merely a means of making money, and able to reveal breathtaking dialectical counter-aesthetics. (Hartmut Bitomsky)