14 March 2014

Selling Intent to KillTueurs à gages, really

A few final words about Jack Cardiff's Intent to Kill. Blame 20th Century Fox; its poster for the French release fairly demands comment.

Let's begin with the title, which is nearly identical to Tueur à gages, that given the French release of This Gun for Hire. I won't blame the powers at the time; Tueurs à gages is not only appropriate, but a more exciting title than Intention de tuer.

But what to make of "La lutte sans merci de 'SCOTLAND YARD' contra les TUEURES A GAGES"?

Scotland Yard doesn't figure in the film. Why would it? Not one scene takes place off the Island of Montreal. "La lutte sans merci" is limited to one man, Det Sgt O'Brien of the RCMP, played by Montrealer Paul Carpenter. He doesn't even appear until the second half of the film, when he's assigned to guard the intended target. O'Brien spends most of his time making smalltalk at the nurses' station.

"Do the Mounties always get their man, like they say?"
"Well, they got me."
This is not to say that O'Brien isn't effective. Screenwriter, Jimmy Sangster, may have been British, but he has the Mountie apprehend the hired killer in typically Canadian fashion.

"I'm Detective O'Brien, sir… RCMP."
O'Brien does indeed get his man, in the shoulder, just as the other assassins move in.

Not one of them carries a rifle, as they do in the French poster. They don't wear hats, either, which leads me to wonder if it was O'Brien's suit that had the French recast him as a member of Scotland Yard.

"You don't look like a Mountie."
"I left my horse outside."
That's it. You'll hear no more from me about Intent to Kill. Promise.

Tueurs à gages, on the other hand…

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