Stanley Kubrick's second feature film, Killer's Kiss, made the world take notice. The young moviemaker won acclaim for this dazzling film noir about a struggling New York boxer (Jamie Smith) whose life is imperiled when he... more » protects a nightclub dancer (Irene Kane) from her gangster boss (Frank Silvera). "Using his camera as a sandpaper block, Kubrick has stripped away the veneer from the prizefight and dancehall worlds," the New York Mirror proclaimed. Killer's Kissnot only lends considerable insight into future Kubrick classicssuch as The Killing and Full Metal Jacketbut it is also a remarkable film in its own right: the boxing match may bethe most vicious this side of Raging Bull, and the famed final battle remains an action tour-de-force. "An ambitious photographer...challenges the movie capital with Killer's Kiss," theNew York Daily News enthused. "The suspenseful venture augurs well for young Stanley Kubrick!"« less
Early Stanley Kubrick film is a preview of things to come...
Marc-David Jacobs | Portland, Oregon, United States of America | 04/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Stanley Kubrick was making Killer's Kiss, he was only 26. At this time, he was still writing his own stories and post-dubbing his films. However, though many Kubrick fans dismiss this film as an early effort, I consider it to be one of his great films. The plot is simple (and the story of a boxer borrows heavily [in both plot and imagery] from his first film, a documentary called Day of the Fight ) and concise (at 64 minutes, it is his shortest feature-length film), but packs a punch that transcends his career.Davey Gordon is a has-been boxer who still fights, but rarely wins. Across the street, lives a girl by the name of Gloria Price. Gloria is disillusioned and pessimistic (her sister, Iris [played in flashback by Kubrick's second wife, Ruth Sobotka] committed suicide on the same day her father died) and dancer with men for money. Her boss, Vincent Rapallo is desperately in love with her, but, when he advances on her in her apartment, she screams and Davey runs to help her. They fall in love and decide to move away to live with Davey's family. However, when Gloria goes to collect her check from Vincent, Vincent tells his thugs to beat up Davey, who is waiting outside. However, when Davey runs after some Shriners who steal his scarf, the thugs beat and kill Davey's manager, Albert, who was scheduled to meet Davey. Davey is framed and Gloria has been kidnapped. Davey confronts Rapallo, who takes him to Gloria, but Davey is knocked unconscious by the thugs. When he recovers, he sees Gloria trying to get Rapallo to spare her but leading him on. Depressed, Davey escapes by jumping out a window. A chase ensues, leading up to a brutal fight between Davey and Rapallo in a mannequin factory...The movie itself contains many elements that Kubrick will utilize in his later films. One is Davey's dream sequence, which mimicks the Star Gate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Another is the mannequin fight between Davey (with a long poker) and Rapallo (with an axe), with is very similar to the fight between Spartacus (with a Thracian knife) and Draba (with a trident and net) in Spartacus (1960). As said before, both the preparation for the boxing match and the fight itself are direct recreations of sequences from Day of the Fight (1951). Also previously mentioned is the post-dubbing, which caused Irene Kane (Gloria Price) to be completely dubbed over by another woman when she got tired of repeating her lines over and over again. Irene later became TV journalist Chris Chase and had a brief cameo in All That Jazz (1979). Frank Silvera (Vincent Rapallo) was the star of Kubrick's first feature, the rare Fear and Desire (1953).All in all, this is a marvelous film. You will get swept up in the plot itself, and Kubrick's camera, as always, is right on track, capturing emotion and drama at the same instant. Upon viewing this film, one is able to clearly see that Kubrick, who went on to so much better, was destined for fame from the start."
Killer's Kiss on DVD
Bryant Bell | Baton Rouge, LA United States | 09/09/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being an avid Stanley Kubrick fan, I was very frustrated to find there were no copies of "Killer's Kiss" for sale or rent where I live. The day I bought my DVD player I found a copy of it on DVD, and I had to have it."Killer's Kiss" is the so-so film noir tale of a boxer who loses a fight and is ready to return to his home, where his family is, until he gets entangled with the dark life of a dance-hall girl. Through falling in love with this girl, he gets caught up with her jealous ex-lover, a crime king-pin. The story and the dialogue here are weak, but the film is redeemed by its own quirkyness and the beautiful black-and-white camera work. The DVD of "Killer's Kiss" has only one extra feature... A trailer of the film. It's nothing special, but it is somewhat interesting for historical purposes. The redeeming quality of this DVD ends up being the clarity of the picture, which, I feel is very good for an obscure 1955 film.It all really comes down to don't buy the "Killer's Kiss" DVD unless you love Kubrick, or have seen the movie and know you like it. You really have to wonder if this was the "Pi" or "Being John Malkovich" of its day."
Picture By The Director As A Young Man
Mike Stone | 07/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Killer's Kiss" would most assuredly be relegated to the dustbin of history, repository of a thousand and one [less expensive] noir knock-offs, if it hadn't been directed by a 25-year old Brooklyn-born novice filmmaker who grew up to be Stanley Kubrick. Still, save for the novelty of a few directorial flourishes and motifs that would pop up in Kubrick's later films, "Killer's Kiss" is little more than light entertainment. It's not an important film. Which is fine, because it was never intended to be. Kubrick intended it as a calling card to Hollywood, and on this level, ultimately, it is a success.Davy Gordon (Jamie Smith) is a prizefighter, once fraught with potential, but now saddled with a reputation for a glass jaw and bad luck in important fights. He's fed up with New York City, and is thinking about going to live on his Aunt and Uncle's horse ranch in Seattle. After another defeat, alone in his apartment, he sees that a woman (Irene Kane) in the next building is being threatened by a much older gentleman (Frank Silvera). Ever the do-gooder, Davy runs to her aid. It is this choice, to get involved in the affairs of a stranger, which propels the film down its perilous path.Gordon is a very laid-back presence. He has not the usual angst of the film noir hero. Instead, he relies on an affable, but brooding, charm to get through the picture. Silvera does little more with his creepy dance-hall manager than sweat and stammer and try his best to look menacing. Even his touches of philosophical cynicism ("Can happiness buy money?" he asks at one point) don't really work as well as they should. He's also not a very intimidating presence, which hurts the film some. Kane, I have mixed feelings about. Upon first seeing the film I thought she was a revelation, bringing some sorrow and depth to the role of a dime-a-dance girl with a past. She may not have much in terms of acting chops, but she does have promise. Add to that the fact that she has Audrey Hepburn-esque beauty (a grand statement to make, I know, but she won me over on first glance), and you'd think she'd be a star for a long time. Alas, fate conspires against her, for due to a problem with his soundman, Kubrick had to redo the actors' voices in post-production. Kane, a stubborn girl who later became a respected journalist, refused to do any more work on the picture, so her voice was dubbed by someone else.Kubrick, even in his nascent period, was still a force behind the camera. A rooftop chase scene is exciting even though the only sounds we hear are a moody, atmospheric percussion score (the rest of the film fluctuates between aggressive jazz, and soaring, melodramatic strings). The sight of shadowy figures, racing in the dusk of day across a New York skyline, is wondrous to behold. He handles the scenes set in Time's Square with aplomb, made even more impressive by the knowledge that he had no permits to film there. Often, his camera had to be hidden in the back of a car. The director's more oddball touches are also all over the film. Besides the dream sequence that foreshadows "2001", a shot in negative of a drive down a narrow alleyway, he does a lot of weird work with windows and mirrors. One shot is set up from the bottom of a fishbowl. Another gets the point-of-view of a picture frame, moments before it is shattered by a shoe. There's also a boxing scene early on that appears to be shot from every angle possible. I'll have to look again to make sure, but I believe we even get a glove's-eye-view. It's a rather manic approach to capturing the sweet science on celluloid ("Raging Bull" it isn't). But Kubrick does come up with something visceral, giving the audience a taste for being in the ring.The final duel takes place in a mannequin warehouse. The two combatants begin fighting over a girl, then, using stray limbs lying around, end up fighting *with* girls. It's unintentionally comic, a little surreal, and a tad overlong. It would have become a classic film scene if: 1) "Killer's Kiss" had been a success; or 2) the fighter's had been less inept with their weapons (even armed with an axe and a spear, it takes forever for someone to draw blood)."All my life I've really spoiled the things that meant the most to me," says Silvera's Vincent at one point. It's a startling confession, coming from a film noir stock character. These people aren't supposed to have any self-awareness -- for they are little more than pawns on a cinematic chessboard -- and yet here's Vincent acting as his own psychologist. It's flourishes like this, along with Gloria's monologue about why she chose the profession she did (played as the voice over of a scene showing a single dancer performing a moody ballet), that somehow elevate "Killer's Kiss" over similar pulp fare. Look at me go on and on. I was going to give this film 3-stars (which it probably deserves if you aren't a Kubrick completist), but I appear to have talked myself into a better rating. Kubrick, ever the effective polemicist, strikes again."
Don't miss it
Eric Gomez | Sherman Oaks, California USA | 01/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this movie a little while back because it was a Kubrick film. I love Kubrick's work. This is the only of his I haven't seen. The movie is just great. This movie really shows you what talent is. It doesn't have to wow you with mindless violence, it just does it with a great script. It works great as Noir because it has that quick and dirty feel of the great noir films. Like Detour. It does move fast, but at the same time it doesn't make you feel like your just along for the ride. Don't blink because you'll miss something great."
Shows what a master craftsman can do on a small budget
Eric Gomez | 05/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The five stars are more in appreciation of the limits of big budget. On pocket change Mr Kubrick knocked off a clever liitle film that acts as a " prequel " to the astonishing things to follow. It's interesting to watch this again after the seminal Eyes Wide Shut. Mr Kubricks world view never deserted him. Love the goldfish bowl shot, the street buskers and the mixed up rendevous in the street, the fight in the fashion dummy factory shows that even then Mr Kubrick could ellicit astonishingly real performances. Great little movie. Don't miss it."