This Gun For Hire (1942)
So, this movie is awesome. If you want to watch a really good film noir, check this out. It’s intense and surprisingly raw (maybe even more so than Kiss Me Deadly), and although Veronica Lake’s bundle of patriotic dialogue sticks out from the rest of the script like a sore thumb (as does her musical numbers), it’s still a fun ride.
And watching this movie reminds me of how interesting Veronica Lake seemed as a person. To think that she ended up as a barmaid in Manhattan (and that her last movie was Flesh Feast)—it’s really hard to explain, I guess. Even in her heyday, she was inscrutable; it’s hard to really get a grasp on her, and maybe that’s why I find the whole thing so confusing. I know she had mental problems and substance abuse problems, but still. So did Alan Ladd, so did loads of other Hollywood stars. Hm.
Speaking of Ladd—This Gun For Hire is his first starring role (as it is, he’s third- or fourth-billed), and he steals the movie. His scenes with Lake are amazing, and it’s not surprising that the studio paired them up in three other movies after this. You completely forget that Robert Preston is supposed to be Lake’s love interest (or, hell, even that Preston is supposed to be the star).