Murder by Contract | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Murder by Contract 

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This rarely screened 1958 gem about the mind of a contract killer is one of Martin Scorsese's favorite thrillers, and it's easy to see why. The film follows an existential hipster (Vince Edwards) who coolly regards his work as a business until he gets thrown by a big-time assignment to rub out a woman about to testify in court. Neither the screenwriter (Ben Simcoe) nor the director (Irving Lerner) ever made it big, but here they achieved something nearly perfect--with a memorable guitar score, a witty feeling for character, dialogue, and narrative ellipsis, and a lean, purposeful style. Lucien Ballard did the black-and-white cinematography. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Thursday, June 27, 6:00, 443-3737.

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