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Assassin for Hire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Assassin for Hire
Assassin for Hire FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byMichael McCarthy
Written byRex Rienits
Based onTV play by Rex Rienits
Produced byJulian Wintle
StarringSydney Tafler
Ronald Howard
Katharine Blake
John Hewer
CinematographyRobert LaPresle
Edited byEric Hodges
Music byRonnie Emanuel
Merton Park Studios
Distributed byAnglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors
Release date
  • April 1951 (1951-04)
Running time
67 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Assassin for Hire is a 1951 British crime film directed by Michael McCarthy and starring Sydney Tafler, Ronald Howard and Katharine Blake.[1] Its plot follows a contract killer who becomes stricken with remorse when he is led to believe he has murdered his brother.

It was the first feature film made by Anglo-Amalgamated. It was made at Merton Park Studios from a screenplay by Rex Rienits. It was intended as a supporting feature, although it may have been shown as a headline feature in some cinemas.

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Antonio Riccardi, a young British criminal of Italian heritage, works as a professional contract killer in order to pay for his gifted younger brother's violin lessons so that he can escape from a life of poverty and crime. A series of mistakes lead him to wrongly believe he has killed his brother, and he confesses his crimes to the police.[2]


Original Radio Play

Rex Rienits originally wrote the story as a radio play, which aired in Australia in 1944 in a production starring Keith Eden.[3] Another version was produced in 1952.[4]

Television Play

Rienits moved to London in April 1949 and in May 1950 reported he had sold the script to television. It was one of two television scripts he sold, the other being The Million Pound Note which would be filmed in 1954.[5]

The television film Assassin for Hire was screened by the BBC in September 1950 with Sidney Tafler in the lead.[6][7]

Film production

In November 1950 Rienits reported that film rights to his story had been purchased by Anglo Amalgamated, run by Nat Cohen. Filming started at Merton Studios on 13 November 1950 with Tafler repeating his television performance.[8]

Dallas Bower who directed the television version claims the movie "more or less started Nat Cohen off in the film industry because he decided he wanted to make this into a film and indeed he did" and "it made a mint of money." Bower thought Assassin for Hire might have been "the first occasion when a successful TV production also became a successful film."[9]


Rienits later turned the story into a novel. It was published along with the Rienits short story Wide Boy which was later filmed with Sidney Tafler in 1952. The Herald called the novel Assassin for Hire "a tightly written, quite exciting report on a professional killer."[10] The Advertiser called it "An exciting, if not a very convincing, novel.[11]

There was also talk the story would be turned into a play.[12]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Chibnall & McFarlane p.98
  3. ^ "THE WEEK'S RADIO FEATURES". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 16 December 1944. p. 5. Retrieved 9 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "From a Listener's Armchair". The Advertiser. Vol. 95, no. 29, 341. Adelaide. 25 October 1952. p. 15. Retrieved 9 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "TELEVISION FOR RIENITS' PLAYS". Truth. No. 2617. Brisbane. 21 May 1950. p. 46. Retrieved 9 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Chibnall & McFarlane p.97-98
  7. ^ "Latest Fiction". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 8 November 1952. p. 7. Retrieved 6 June 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "Australian's Television Play To Be Filmed". The Sunday Herald (Sydney). No. 93. New South Wales, Australia. 5 November 1950. p. 6. Retrieved 9 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Dallas Bower". British Entertainment History Project. 23 November 1987. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  10. ^ "NEW BOOKS REVIEWED". The Herald. No. 23, 538. Victoria, Australia. 1 November 1952. p. 14. Retrieved 9 August 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ "CRIME SHELF". The Mail. Adelaide. 8 November 1952. p. 2 Supplement: SUNDAY MAGAZINE. Retrieved 6 June 2015 – via National Library of Australia.
  12. ^ "Hat-Trick By Film Script Man". The Newcastle Sun. No. 10, 590. New South Wales, Australia. 20 December 1951. p. 7. Retrieved 5 July 2020 – via National Library of Australia.


  • Chibnall, Steve & McFarlane, Brian. The British 'B' Film. Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 March 2023, at 12:05
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