Cast & Crew
American James Nevill, president of Amalgamated Industries in London, is horrified to discover that eccentric professor Cyrus McGowan no longer plans to purchase the huge cache of supplies that Jim has procured for him. Realizing that he and his company will now be financially ruined, Jim stoically asks his board members for forty-eight hours to present a new plan. Although no one knows that Jim is in trouble, his secretary, Joan Peterson, who secretly loves him, recognizes that something is amiss. That night, while Jim's beloved wife Andrea throws a party, Jim invites his old friend, Paul Kirby, into his office. There, Jim berates Paul for having stolen money from him in the past and gambling it away. Then, explaining that he wants to secure Andrea's future with a large insurance payment, Jim orders Paul to murder him within five days. Paul refuses, but is forced to agree when Jim threatens to expose an earlier murder Paul committed. By the end of the party, Paul is so drunk that Jim asks board member and family friend Peter Glanville to escort him home, and when Paul insists on stopping at the bar where his girl friend, Eileen, works, Peter subsequently overhears him reveal Jim's scheme to her. Over the next few days, Jim travels to Dublin to give Paul time to gather his courage. The afternoon he returns, McGowan bursts into his office and announces that their deal is on once again. Overjoyed, Jim instructs Joan to tell Paul that their arrangement is cancelled, but Joan cannot locate Paul. At home that night, Jim manages to soothe Andrea, who is furious with him for leaving town so suddenly. Desperate to find Paul, Jim asks Peter to watch after Andrea, and races to Paul's apartment, where he is shot at. By the time he revives, Joan has tracked him there and insists that he tell her the truth. Over the next four days, Joan hires a private detective to track down Paul, and soon receives a message asking Jim to meet Paul at an apartment building. When Jim goes there, however, he is chased through the streets by an unknown assailant in a car. He visits Eileen, but she tells him that Paul has fled the country and shows him a letter Paul wrote to her from abroad. In the office the next day, a bomb hidden in Jim's desk detonates, but no one is harmed. Now knowing that the killer is not Paul but has access to his office, Jim suspects his nemesis, board member Heisen. Although Heisen admits that he loathes Jim for his often questionable business tactics, he presents a secure alibi. The next day, Jim, now desperate and exhausted, finally reveals everything to Andrea, and they ponder who could have shot at him in Paul's apartment. Andrea suddenly realizes that Peter did not attend the theater with her that evening, but instead went home early. They return to the house and invite Peter over. As Jim waits in the dark, he hears Andrea scream outside and rushes to the greenhouse, where he finds Peter holding a gun to Paul's back. After Peter reveals that he and Andrea learned of Jim's plan to have himself killed, and decided to kill him themselves to gain the insurance money, Andrea appears in the doorway and confirms Peter's claims. Peter orders Paul to shoot Jim and then himself, to make the act appear to be a murder-suicide, but just then Joan arrives and calls out for Jim. Paul grabs Peter's gun and it goes off several times, killing Andrea. Jim tries to strangle Peter but finally stops when Joan screams that she loves him. While Paul holds his gun on Peter until the police arrive, Joan sadly watches a heartbroken Jim carry Andrea's dead body into the house.
Howard Marion Crawford
John "pinky" Green
Robert L. Lippert
J. Elder Wills
Paid to Kill
This was one of the low-budget programmers that Hammer Films cranked out before it became famous for their gothic horror revivals of classic movie monsters and horror stories. Like so many of those earlier films, it's a thriller with a twist and it runs just under 75 minutes. It was a formula that Hammer had perfected, at least as a successful business plan. A quota law in Britain required that theaters play a minimum number of British productions. By importing American actors whose stardom was on the wane and could be hired inexpensively, Hammer could also export these production to the U.S. to play as second features through American distribution partner Lippert.
For Paid to Kill, the American headliner was Dane Clark, the New York-born actor and Actor's Studio member who found success playing "Joe Average" parts in Hollywood through the forties. By the 1950s, as studio parts dried up stateside, he moved out of respectable studio production to work on TV, in independent films, and in European productions, such as Gunman in the Streets (1950). Paid to Kill was his second film for Hammer and they made use of his knack for intense, tortured characters to play a hotshot American dealmaker running a British firm. His brash, competitive business manner alienates the more conservative members of his board of directors while his workaholic drive keeps him away from home, much to the frustration of his British wife (Thea Gregory). Cecile Chevreau plays his secretary Joan, a loyal gal Friday who pines for her boss, but he's so smitten with his wife that he never gives Joan a second glance, and Canadian actor Paul Carpenter plays his childhood friend, now a pathetic ne'er do well gambler, drunk, and petty thief.
It was directed by Montgomery Tully, a journeyman filmmaker who worked steadily in the British film industry, mostly in the realm of low-budget crime-dramas and thrillers from the 1940s through the late 1960s. Tully does his best to hide the budgetary constraints but he's at his best when taking the action out of the studio, or at least out of the office and apartment sets. In one nocturnal scene on a street, he turns an ordinary alley into dark, dangerous trap with slashes of light and an onrushing truck. Screenwriter Paul Tabori scripted a number of earlier Hammer films, including the low budget science fiction thrillers Four-Sided Triangle (1953) and Spaceways (1953), both directed by Hammer's star director Terence Fisher.
A more notable presence is assistant director Jimmy Sangster, who had worked his way up through the studio and put his production apprenticeship to good use. Paid to Kill was his last film as an assistant director. His first screenplay was produced by Hammer in 1955 and he quickly made his name as Hammer's top screenwriter after scripting the studio's breakthrough horror hits The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Horror of Dracula (1958), and The Mummy (1959), highlights in a very busy career as a writer and later as a director for Hammer.
The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes. Titan Books, 2007.
Hammer: House of Horror: Behind the Screams, Howard Maxford. Overlook Press, 1996.
by Sean Axmaker
Paid to Kill
This film was originally released in England under the title Five Days.