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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Frank Tuttle
U.S.A. 1942

Adapted from a novel by Graham Greene, This Gun For Hire is the edgy story of love, power and betrayal set in the seamy underworld of the 1940s. Philip Raven (Ladd) is a cold-blooded professional killer who's been double-crossed by his client. Ellen (Lake) is a beautiful nightclub singer who's spying on her corrupt boss. Lt. Michael Crane (Robert Preston) is a dedicated cop who wants Ellen's love and Raven's capture. The tension mounts steadily ... and before the case is wrapped up, someone will pay with his life.

***

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. 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.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

***

Outstanding film noir, based on Graham Greene's novel A Gun For Sale, which presents one of the most disturbed (and disturbing) killers ever to cross the screen. Ladd is scary because he doesn't care; he is simply a killing machine hired out by whoever will pay. Only when Lake takes the time to break through the emotional fortress that he has built around himself does Ladd show any signs of humanity.


This is the film that made Alan Ladd a star. Although director Tuttle had originally intended to cast Preston in the lead role, he later decided to hunt for an unknown. When Tuttle was introduced to Ladd, the director was convinced that the 28-year-old blond could make the cold-blooded killer Phillip Raven a sympathetic character. Contracted at $300 per week, Ladd underwent screen tests, and even had his hair dyed black in keeping with his character's name.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: 13 May 1942

Reviews                                                                            More Reviews                                                                            DVD Reviews

 

Comparison: 

Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal Pictures (UK) - Region 2, 4 - PAL vs. Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the NTSC DVD screen captures!

1) Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

2) Universal Pictures (UK) - Region 2, 4 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

  

Distribution

Universal Studios

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal Picture (UK)

Region 2, 4 - PAL

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:21:12 1:17:57 (4% PAL speedup) 1:21:00.939
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.3 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.3 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 26,416,680,391 bytes

Feature: 25,211,953,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  NTSC

 

Bitrate:  PAL

 

Bitrate: 

Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1562 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1562 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1627 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1627 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Subtitles English, Spanish, French, none English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
Keep case

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date:
February 12th, 2007
Transparent Keep case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Shout! Factory

 

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 26,416,680,391 bytes

Feature: 25,211,953,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Alan K. Rode And Steve Mitchell

• Trailer (2:10)
• Image Gallery (6:50)


Blu-ray Release Date:
May 14th, 2019
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Shout! Factory Blu-ray (May 2019): Shout! Factory bills their Blu-ray transfer as a "NEW 4K Scan Of The Original Film Elements". As we have seen from almost all 4K-restorations of older films - it doesn't bring up sharpness as some anticipate, but rather the desirable film-like heaviness. So, compared to the DVDs, it looks lighter - almost smokier - and it suits the presentation on my system. This looks very strong in-motion - consistent, clean and accurately darker. We don't lose detail - it is just more subtle in the well-layered contrast. The texture on this film is... delicious.

Shout! Factory use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel mono track (24-bit). Even the gunshots are fairly modest in depth. The score by David Buttolph (Western Union, Pete Kelly's Blues, Rope, Three Secrets, Kiss of Death, Blood and Sand and many more) sounds excellent in heightening the mood and suspense of many scenes. There are optional English subtitles on this Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.

Extras have a great new commentary by film historians Alan K. Rode and Steve Mitchell. Rode and Mitchell fill the film's running time with some great anecdotes and facts about the cast and crew and the most minute details on the stars histories. There is also discussion of some cut scenes of 'Raven' as an abused child (his bad wrist because of an evil aunt - as he relates in the film). I think this commentary is worth the price alone. There is also a theatrical trailer and a gallery with many HD photos and posters.

Probably my favorite (such a rich premise) of the Ladd/Lake Noir films - great acting from both of them. I will be re-watching this (and re-listening to the info-stacked commentary) multiple times. This Blu-ray is a must-own for 'Dark Cinema' aficionadas, and strongly recommended to everyone else. 

***

ON THE DVDs: The picture quality is almost exactly the same. I see no appreciable differences.  Both are single-layered and progressive. Actually it looks quite strong and is possibly the best of the transfers of the Noir Films crop from Universal back in 2004. Contrast looks good and there is film grain peeking through.

One bugaboo is the UK case states a 2:1 anamorphic transfer (wrong!) The PAL is region 2 + 4 and both offer English subtitles. There are no extras which seems quite unjust. This is not only a staple of Noir but it may have the best opening characterization scene in all of the 'black style'. The electricity between Ladd and Lake is so thick you hardly even notice Preston (2nd billing) is in the film. Let's see this in an SE with Muller commentary!

 - Gary W. Tooze

 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

DVD Menus

(Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Universal Pictures (UK) - Region 2, 4 - PAL RIGHT


 

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal Pictures (UK) - Region 2, 4 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal Pictures (UK) - Region 2, 4 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal Studios - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Universal Pictures (UK) - Region 2, 4 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Captures

 

Box Cover

 

  

Distribution

Universal Studios

Region 1 - NTSC

Universal Picture (UK)

Region 2, 4 - PAL

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 




 

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Gary Tooze