Stanley Kubrick’s sophomore feature film, Killer’s Kiss, makes its arrival on 4K UHD by way of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith) is a middleweight boxer nearing the end of his career. Early on in the film, Davey meets a nightclub dancer, Gloria Price (Irene Kane). Davey and Gloria start a relationship, much to the dismay of her boss, Vincent Rapallo (Frank Silvera). This is really the gist of it. Vincent sends his people after Davey but they end up killing his manager. Later, they kidnap Gloria while police think Davey killed his manager. If this film were any longer, it might become a comedy of errors. Things work out in the end for everyone. Except Vincent because karma is a bitch.
While Kubrick came up with the story, Howard Sackler penned the script without credit. Other than this, Kubrick basically does everything else: producing, editing, cinematography, and sound. It’s very much the do-it-yourself kind of film and the final product shows. During production, the filmmaker used the back of a truck for tracking shots rather than a dolly. There’s not much of a budget here, if any. In watching the scenes set in and around Times Square, you can tell that this is not an experienced filmmaker. At one point, someone walks into the frame, stops in front of the camera, and looks back as if they’re watching what’s happening. It’s far from the level of Dr. Strangelove or 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Kubrick had to sync the sound recording in post without lead actress Irene Kane because she was not available to re-dub her lines. The run time comes in at slightly over an hour, which is rather short for a feature film. One might expect this for an earlier silent feature but not a 1950s feature film. In any event, Killer’s Kiss is a Kubrick film but he’s still growing as a filmmaker at this point.
Killer’s Kiss is an amateurish effort but one can only wonder what kind of film that Kubrick could have pulled off with the backing of a studio. It’s a fine effort but there are better noirs out there and certainly better films about boxing.
- Brand New Dolby Vision HDR Master – From 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
- NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Imogen Sara Smith
- Theatrical Trailer
DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
SCREENWRITERS: Howard Sackler
CAST: Frank Silvera, Jamie Smith, Irene Kane, Ruth Sobotka
United Artists released Killer’s Kiss in theaters on September 21, 1955. Grade: 3/5
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