Rewatching This Gun for Hire (1942) this weekend made me wish I’d been present for the film’s initial release when audiences first experienced the iconic pairing of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. I recently submitted an article on Ladd and Lake for The Dark Pages (which should go to print very soon), so I was eager to see their magic work on the big screen.
Alan K. Rode provided yet another stellar introduction to the film, commenting on Ladd’s humble beginnings as he climbed through the Hollywood system. Such humble beginnings stayed with Ladd and he never forgot where he came from or the people who helped him along the way. One of those people was director Frank Tuttle, who directed him in This Gun for Hire and later in Hell on Frisco Bay (1955). Ladd referred to Tuttle as the only director who ever believed in him.
Quiet Please, Murder (1942) is one of those films that makes Noir City events essential for noir fans. The film has never been available on DVD or Blu-ray and I’m not sure if it’s ever played on TCM. Rode said that in the case of this film, persistence paid off. The Film Noir Foundation asked 20th Century Fox for a print of the film years ago and the studio finally searched the vault and found it.
It’s a real treat: George Sanders is totally unleashed here as Jim Fleg, a forger who steals and copies a valuable Shakespeare folio. One of his customers (Sidney Blackmer) discovers he’s been duped and demands his money back. Meanwhile, detective Hal McByrne (Richard Denning) tries to get to the bottom of the case by interrogating Fleg’s partner Myra, played by Gail Patrick. (For more on the amazing life of Gail Patrick, please check out my previous post on the film.) Most of the film takes place in a public library on lockdown and as a public librarian, I think you’ll love the goofy shenanigans that ensue. Humor is seldom used as a constant in most film noir titles, but it’s certainly delightful here.
You can read my thoughts on both of these films from my Noir City San Francisco posts from earlier this year.
Stay tuned, there's much, much more.