Monday, June 4, 2012

Killer's Kiss (1955)

A once promising boxer turned palooka (Jamie Smith) is all set to move out of the seedy cesspool that is NYC to life of peace and quite in Seattle. He plans are briefly thrown out of wack when he saves a taxi dancer (Irene Kane) in the apartment across his from being attacked by her gangster boss/boyfriend (Frank Silvera). The boxer and the dancer find themselves drawn to each other, while the boss is figuring a way to take back what he believes is his.

If I had no idea who the director was after seeing this extremely low-budget film, I'd assume that he was a very talented individual who knew how to use the camera in interesting ways. If he was lucky, he probably went on do some nice-looking films, and plenty of TV shows. But since this is Stanley Kubrick's second turn as a director, I look at it more as a prelude of the much superior The Killing (1956), in addition to his other classic works. The gritty streets and crumbling buildings of NYC are well utilized to create an atmosphere of dread, assisted by interesting cinematography; The camera is place in front of a fish bowl to distort the features of the hero, and races down an empty street in a processed-negative dream sequence.

And though I have to give Kubrick well deserved credit for making a lot out of a little, the constant reminders of the minuscule budget he had to work with are hard to ignore. There are situations where "tell, don't show" is employed, usually when a character talks about events in voiceover. The actors are adequate, thought not particularly memorable. The plot is really nothing to write home about, lacking any real suspense or surprise in the story. The dialogue is bearable, though again, not great. It's kinda understandable why Kubrick never worked with an original script after this.

Kubrick fans and film noir conisuers should definitely should check it out. This is a case where creative stylistics win out over a rather bland story. Which is a shame; if the story matched up with the exciting visuals, this could have made a first-rate noir, instead of the okaish one that it is.

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