A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown's girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.
Small-time crook Nick Bianco gets caught in a jewel heist and despite urgings from well-meaning district attorney D'Angelo, refuses to rat on his partners and goes to jail, assured that his wife and children will be taken care of. Learning that his depressed wife has killed herself, Nick informs on his ex-pals and is paroled. Nick remarries, gets a job and begins leading a happy life when he learns one of the men he informed on, psychopathic killer Tommy Udo, has been released from custody and is out for revenge against Nick and his family. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
This is one of the better remembered crime films of the forties, and boasts excellent direction by Henry Hathaway, a good script by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer, and fine New York location photography by Norbert Brodine. Victor Mature plays a small-time crook who's enlisted by an assistant D.A. to infiltrate a gang of criminals whose leader, played by Richard Widmark, in his movie debut, is a psychopath with a very bent sense of humor. Psycho killers were relatively new to movies in the forties, and Widmark's may be the most famous of the lot. One can see his influence in films for years to come, as any number of actors made their debuts playing similar roles. No one surpassed Widmark for sheer sadism, however, as when he ties up an old lady in a wheelchair and sends her tumbling down a flight of stairs. This remains his most famous role, and when his obituary is written, the author, if he knows his movies at all, will mention it in the first sentence. Kiss Of Death is a decent crime story, at times very tense, but not otherwise exceptional. Surprisingly, Victor Mature gives a warm, emotional performance in the leading role, and Widmark's villainy would not have been so nearly as effective without this. How dull this picture might have been had Dana Andrews or Mark Stevens played this part.
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