|Index||3 reviews in total|
First of all, it is a silent movie from 1928 which is charming per se. As the title says it is about a gang of gangsters who lead a perfect life with some kind of profession and reputation - outwardly. Then while "committing" their real job they just change their silk hats into woolen hats and don't talk too much. This movie lives very much on the facial expressions and gestures of the actors (and actress). Everybody enjoying gangster movies situated in the 1920th will find abundance of the cool slang (in the titles in-between), the wonderful cool little eye-movements expressing everything (again in order not to talk too much). A young girl disguises her real identity to get the attention of these gentlemen to proceed in her own affair. This lady brings about a good portion of humor into the all so serious gangster world, she is very vividly played by Mary Astor. I enjoyed the film very much and gave it a 9/10. Make sure you can see it with live music!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Actually, the word that is used throughout this 1928 film is "Mob," not
gangster. The characters, settings, and plot of DRESSED TO KILL would
all become staple elements of the Hollywood gangster film, and are
indelibly linked to late 1920s-early 1930s popular culture; I almost
expected Dick Tracy to show up and clean up this racket.
Here, however, the police is far from being depicted as heroic or even competent. Instead we are introduced to a bevy of tuxedo-clad, cigarette-smoking tough guys with nicknames like Silky and Ritzy, whose boss--played by the suave Edmund Lowe--always manages to evade implication in the crimes he masterminds. Ever conscious of "stool-pigeons" and women in general, the rest of the Mob is leery when Barry (Lowe) decides to take on a new "associate" as the gang's "stall moll" (the beautiful Mary Astor).
The story is minimal, though there is a nice twist with Astor's character--and Lowe's final decision seems somewhat incredible in light of how long he has known his "moll." Irving Cummings (who also directed Astor and Ben Bard in ROMANCE OF THE UNDERWORLD, another 1928 gangster flick for Fox Studios), brings some stylish touches to the film, creating moods of tension and menace through lingering, extensive close-ups.
The film unfortunately ends later than it should have. I have the feeling that the studio (or someone in charge) ordered the rather ridiculous last scene to be shot in order to ensure that all the criminals received their comeuppance. The scene immediately before this was surely intended as the end of the film; left as such, it would have left a more powerful impact.
Perhaps a precursor to the crime/comedy films of Billy Wilder, Scorsese
and the Coen brothers, 'Dressed to Kill' is a wonderful gem of a comedy
dealing with the glorification of gangsters. We are introduced to two
of the lead gangsters in a scene where they change into robbers'
clothes, hold up a bank and nonchalantly change back into dress
clothing during their getaway. The majority of the film then deals with
Edmund Lowe's character attempting to lure Mary Astor's character into
his circle of crime and own personal affections. His advances are
comically deferred by Astor's dodges. Another nice comedy element in
the film is the band of roughneck criminals, whom contrast with the
I was lucky enough to see a great 35mm print accompanied by a live piano score. Afterwards, I was surprised to see the low vote count on IMDb and can only hope this underrated classic will someday be seen by a larger audience.
|Ratings||External reviews||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|