Murder by Contract (1958) Irving Learner

Murder-by-Contract-1In a 1993 interview with The New York Times, Martin Scorsese talks about the influence Murder by Contract had on the then teenager. “It’s an example of an American B-movie that is 100 times better than the film it played with on a double bill.” He then went on to explain, “The film it was playing with when I saw it was ‘The Journey,’ by Anatole Litvak, with Yul Brynner. That film had nice color, but when ‘Murder by Contract’ came on the screen, it was surprising and lean and purposeful, and not like anything my friends and I had seen. Afterward, we talked about it on the street for days. When I saw it again years later, I was overwhelmed by the severity of the style, which was dictated by the budget.” Scorsese later said in the interview how he put a clip from the film in ‘Mean Streets, ‘ but he had to remove it out of the final cut of the film because it was too long. Continue reading

Where Are They? The Victors (1963)

 “Where Are They?” will be an occasional series on missing films. They are rarely, if ever, shown on TV and have never been released on video in any form. Some films I may have seen years ago and some I have never seen.  If anyone has any knowledge where these films have been shown, TV, a film festival or in a basement in your house please let me know.

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Directed by Carl Forman, “The Victors” is a film that has disappeared off the cinematic map. Unusual film for its time, a serious uncompromising anti-war film that was a big production for Columbia Pictures who had aspirations of Academy Awards for the film. Released during the prestigious Christmas holiday season at almost three hours in length, the film is a grim, epic anti-war drama with an all-star cast.

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The cast includes Vince Edwards, Melina Mercouri, Albert Finny, George Hamilton, Jeanne Moreau, George Peppard, Maurice Ronet, Romy Schnieder, Elke Sommer, Eli Wallach, Peter Fonda and Senta Berger. With this kind of cast it is strange this film has not seem a home video release.

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For Carl Forman this was the only film he ever directed. Better known as a writer (and some time Producer)  of such films as “The Guns of Navarone”,  “High Noon”, “A Hatful of Rain”, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “MacKenna’s Gold” among others.  

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Part of the film touches on the true life story of Private Eddie Slovik who was the only American solider executed during World War II.

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There are unofficial copies of this film available on the web. Beware! According to IMDB the film has a running time of 175 minutes. Some copies I have seen for sale are closer to 150 minutes. Then again, since Columbia/Sony is not releasing the film it may be the only version we can see.    

 Attached below are a couple of  interesting articles on the film.

Joe Baltake article on “The Victors”

1963 New York Times Review