Christiane Newkirk

Written by Christiane Newkirk

Modified & Updated: 19 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


“This Gun for Hire” is a classic film that has captivated audiences since its release. It tells the intriguing story of a hitman named Raven, played by the iconic actor Alan Ladd, who becomes entangled in a web of deceit and betrayal. As one of the most significant films of its time, “This Gun for Hire” has left an indelible mark on the noir genre and continues to be celebrated for its gripping storyline, stellar performances, and stunning cinematography. In this article, we will delve into 40 fascinating facts about “This Gun for Hire,” shedding light on behind-the-scenes secrets, interesting trivia, and the impact this movie has had on the world of cinema. So sit back, relax, and discover everything you need to know about this cinematic gem!

Key Takeaways:

  • This Gun for Hire” is a classic film noir that catapulted Alan Ladd to stardom and influenced future crime thrillers with its intense cat-and-mouse chase and iconic performances.
  • The movie’s enduring popularity lies in its timeless themes, captivating storytelling, and influence on future films, making it a must-watch for fans of film noir.
Table of Contents

Alan Ladd’s breakthrough role

This film marked Alan Ladd’s breakthrough role in Hollywood, establishing him as a leading man and cementing his status as a film noir icon.

Based on a novel by Graham Greene

The movie is based on the novel “A Gun for Sale” written by renowned British author Graham Greene, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

Veronica Lake’s iconic hairstyle

Veronica Lake’s character, Ellen Graham, popularized the “peek-a-boo” hairstyle, where the hair falls over one eye. This became one of Lake’s signature looks and a trendsetter for many women at the time.

Sinister villain played by Laird Cregar

Laird Cregar delivers a chilling performance as Willard Gates, the corrupt and sadistic antagonist of the film. His portrayal of the villain is often regarded as one of the highlights of the movie.

Noir cinematography

The film showcases stunning cinematography with its stylish and atmospheric visuals, capturing the dark and shadowy world of film noir.

Intense cat-and-mouse chase

The plot revolves around a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase as Raven seeks revenge on those who double-crossed him and framed him for murder.

Memorable lines

The movie is known for its memorable lines, such as Raven’s famous quote: “I’m not human tonight, Tommy. I’m a thermos bottle full of ice.” It adds to the overall allure of the film.

Impact on future films

“This Gun for Hire” had a significant influence on the film noir genre, serving as a template for many future crime thrillers.

Relationship between Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake

The on-screen chemistry between Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake was palpable, leading to their collaboration in several other successful films, making them one of the most memorable on-screen duos of the era.

Music by David Buttolph

The movie features a compelling and evocative score composed by David Buttolph, which enhances the tension and suspense throughout the film.

Critically acclaimed

“This Gun for Hire” received critical acclaim for its gripping narrative, stylish direction, and standout performances. It still holds a prominent place in the history of film noir.

Frank Tuttle’s directorial skill

Director Frank Tuttle skillfully captures the essence of the film noir genre, utilizing visual motifs, lighting techniques, and atmospheric set designs to create a compelling atmosphere.

Impact on future hitman films

The portrayal of Philip Raven as a complex and conflicted hitman influenced many future films featuring hitman characters, turning them into more three-dimensional and morally ambiguous figures.

Powerful storytelling

The narrative of “This Gun for Hire” is engaging, filled with suspense, unexpected twists, and moral dilemmas, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

Success at the box office

The movie was a commercial success, further establishing the popularity of film noir and contributing to its continued popularity among audiences.

Social commentary

This Gun for Hire” subtly touches upon social issues of the time, such as corruption, greed, and the impact of World War II on society.

Noir elements

The film incorporates classic noir elements, including femme fatales, moral ambiguity, and a gritty urban setting, adding depth and complexity to the story.

Adaptation challenges

Bringing Graham Greene’s novel to the screen presented several challenges due to its dark and morally complex themes. However, the adaptation successfully captured the essence of the source material.

Recognition as a classic

Over the years, “This Gun for Hire” has gained recognition as a classic film that exemplifies the best qualities of the film noir genre.

Preservation by the National Film Registry

In 1996, this iconic movie was deemed culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress.

Engaging performances

In addition to the standout performances by Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, the supporting cast, including Robert Preston and Laird Cregar, deliver compelling and memorable performances.

Honesty in character portrayal

The film delves into the complexity of its characters, exploring their flaws, vulnerabilities, and desires, which adds depth to the overall story.

Exploration of moral ambiguity

“This Gun for Hire” delves into the gray areas between right and wrong, highlighting the moral ambiguity faced by the characters, making it a thought-provoking viewing experience.

Noir influence on dialogue

The script of the film showcases the influence of film noir on dialogue, with its sharp and witty exchanges between the characters.

Timeless themes

Although set in the 1940s, “This Gun for Hire” explores timeless themes such as betrayal, revenge, and redemption, making it resonate with audiences across generations.

Pioneering use of darkness and light

The film pioneers the use of darkness and light to visually represent the moral conflicts and clashes within the story, creating a visually striking atmosphere.

Historical context

Being released during World War II, the film reflects the anxieties and uncertainties of the time, contributing to its authenticity and resonance with contemporary audiences.

Complex characterization

The characters in the film are multi-dimensional, with their pasts, motivations, and actions carefully crafted to provide a deep understanding of their behavior.

Noir influence on visual style

“This Gun for Hire” influenced the visual style of future film noir movies, with its use of deep shadows, striking angles, and contrasting lighting.

Legacy in the film industry

The impact of “This Gun for Hire” can be seen in the numerous films in various genres that draw inspiration from its storytelling techniques and visual aesthetics.

Relevance in modern cinema

Despite being over seven decades old, “This Gun for Hire” still captivates audiences today, showcasing the enduring appeal of the film noir genre.

Exploring the psychological aspects

The movie delves into the psychological aspects of its characters, exploring their motives, fears, and inner conflicts, adding layers of depth to the narrative.

Trust as a recurring theme

The idea of trust, or lack thereof, is a recurring theme in “This Gun for Hire,” fueling the suspense and driving the character’s actions.

Impact on the careers of the cast

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake’s performances in “This Gun for Hire” catapulted them to stardom and opened doors for future successful projects in their respective careers.

The role of fate

The film explores the role of fate in shaping the destinies of its characters, imbuing the story with a sense of inevitability and tragic consequences.

Exploration of the criminal underworld

“This Gun for Hire” takes a deep dive into the dark and dangerous world of the criminal underworld, shedding light on its inner workings and the individuals who inhabit it.

Notable screenplay adaptation

Screenwriter Albert Maltz successfully adapted Graham Greene’s novel into a screenplay that captured the essence of the original story, whilst making it suitable for the silver screen.

Intertwining of love and betrayal

The film explores the complex relationship between love and betrayal, showcasing how these two powerful emotions can intertwine and drive the characters’ actions.

Influence on neo-noir films

This Gun for Hire” laid the foundation for future neo-noir films, with its exploration of the dark and murky depths of humanity and a gritty visual style.

Enduring popularity

Despite being released nearly eight decades ago, “This Gun for Hire” continues to captivate audiences, solidifying its place as a timeless classic in the annals of film history.


This Gun for Hire is a classic film that has captivated audiences for decades with its thrilling story, memorable characters, and outstanding performances. With its noir atmosphere, gripping plot, and iconic moments, it has cemented its place in movie history. Whether you’re a fan of film noir or simply enjoy a compelling crime drama, This Gun for Hire is a must-watch. From the brilliant direction to the talented cast, this movie continues to be celebrated for its contribution to the genre. So grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and immerse yourself in the world of This Gun for Hire.


Q: Who directed This Gun for Hire?

A: This Gun for Hire was directed by Frank Tuttle.

Q: When was This Gun for Hire released?

A: This Gun for Hire was released on May 13, 1942.

Q: Who are the main stars of the movie?

A: The movie features Alan Ladd as Philip Raven and Veronica Lake as Ellen Graham. They deliver captivating performances that have become iconic in the film industry.

Q: What is the plot of This Gun for Hire?

A: The movie follows the story of Philip Raven, a hitman who becomes embroiled in a web of crime and conspiracy. Along the way, he encounters a nightclub singer named Ellen Graham, and together they uncover a deadly plot that puts their lives at risk.

Q: Is This Gun for Hire based on a book?

A: Yes, This Gun for Hire is based on the novel of the same name written by Graham Greene.

Q: Is This Gun for Hire considered a film noir?

A: Yes, This Gun for Hire is regarded as one of the quintessential film noir movies, known for its dark and mysterious atmosphere, morally ambiguous characters, and gritty storytelling.

Q: Are there any notable scenes or moments in This Gun for Hire?

A: Yes, one of the most memorable scenes involves Veronica Lake’s character performing a sultry rendition of the song “I Put a Spell on You” in a nightclub. This particular scene has become iconic and is often associated with the movie.

Q: Has This Gun for Hire received any awards or nominations?

A: While the movie did not receive any major awards or nominations, it is highly regarded by critics and has obtained a significant following over the years.

If you enjoyed learning about "This Gun for Hire," why not explore more captivating facts about film noir at festivals dedicated to this genre? Dive into classic cinema with intriguing trivia about Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt." Discover lesser-known details about Veronica Lake's enchanting performance in "I Married a Witch." Each article offers a unique perspective on the golden age of Hollywood, guaranteeing an entertaining and informative read for any movie enthusiast.

Was this page helpful?

Our commitment to delivering trustworthy and engaging content is at the heart of what we do. Each fact on our site is contributed by real users like you, bringing a wealth of diverse insights and information. To ensure the highest standards of accuracy and reliability, our dedicated editors meticulously review each submission. This process guarantees that the facts we share are not only fascinating but also credible. Trust in our commitment to quality and authenticity as you explore and learn with us.