The Hired Killer
Director:  Francesco Prosperi
Year:  1966
Rating: 6.0

Country: Italy

Aka - Tecnica di un omicidio

The last job is always the hardest. That final kill. You want out but out rarely comes. Not many professional killers are sitting around pools lapping up the sunshine in Miami Beach in their golden years. At least not in the movies. There have been a lot of films that have covered this subject and they rarely end happily for anyone. Still this Italian production felt a little different because of the casting of the hired killer. It is the American actor Robert Webber. He was ubiquitous in movies and then television from the 1950s through the 1980's - in comedies, drama, crime - rarely the leading man but always very noticeable around the film. Usually a white collar corporate type - often the bad guy behind the bad guy - so it is surprising seeing him out front here as a killer. A well-spoken one, calm not prone to violence unless necessary, always in a suit. But a killer when called upon.

He works for the organization and is paid per job. Paid well. He finishes what he tells his bosses is his last job with a well placed shot from a rooftop in NYC. Just one more job Clint. A rat named Secchy blabbed to the cops and is now in Paris with a new face. Go and kill him. Sorry. Then his brother is killed and the blame put on Secchy and he agrees to take it. But he has to take a rookie killer with him - mentor him - teach him the ropes. The kid is played by Franco Nero, a legendary Italian actor - but not then. This was only a few films into his career and with his glasses and without his moustache I would not have recognized him. He looks like a fresh faced fraternity boy. In the same year he was to star in the Spaghetti Western Django and he was on his way up.

Their contact who knows what Secchy now looks like is dead and they have no leads but keep on digging - bringing the bad guys out of the shadows but every lead turns into a dead end - sometimes literally. It is a slow moving film - no razzmatazz or big displays of gunfire.  Just a pro refusing to take the bait that is set out for him and honing in relentlessly on his target. But these films are never quite as simple as that as we know. Nicely shot with location shooting in NYC, Paris and in the Cinecitta Studio in Rome. Webber is excellent underplaying his character and Nero isn't given much room to play with. Directed by Francesco Prosperi though credited in the film as Frank Shannon.