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Prize-fighter Davy Gordon intervenes when private dancer Gloria Price is being attacked by her employer and lover Vincent Raphello. This brings the two together and they get involved with each other, which displeases Raphello. He sends men out to kill Davy, but they instead kill his friend. Gloria is soon kidnapped by Raphello and his men, and it is up to Davy to save her. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
The first-class suspense film that foreshadowed conscious and technique...
In 1955 a young man, who had produced a couple of 35mm. shorts and a feature which were so little known that they were never even shown in England, made a suspense thriller From the fact that he co-produced it, wrote it, directed it and did the photography and editing himself you may deduce that he had more talent than backing The movie was called "Killer's Kiss," and the multi-talented man who made it was the young Stanley Kubrick
"Killer's Kiss" is a fascinating movie to look back as it is a notable thriller in its own right It is a film about lonely people; alone people, which is not quite the same thing; their roots almost severed from a past which was once good and is now lost; solitary in the impartial big city at the end of the line
It starts with a confident, quiet slowness that few directors would dare in the frenetic Seventies It takes its time to develop, and for nearly half the film you can't guess what the plot is going to be But this carefully measured film gives you a deep feeling for the characters and their context that leaves you, even after all the suspense, with an overwhelming feeling of the humanity of the movie
The narrator, Davy Gordon (Jamie Smith) is a young and fading boxer, past it, but not defeated in his heart The girl Gloria Price (Irene Kane), who lives in the same apartment block, has, like him, no family nor friends She's come down to working as a dance partner in a shabby hall run by a baddie called Vincent Rapallo (Frank Silvera).
Kubrick slowly, and movingly, shows the two principals taking the downgrade: Davy fighting a losing bout in the ring while Gloria is trying to push off some heavy passes from Rapallo
Even he, Rapallo, is made human, understandable When he stands in his shadowed office, making up his mind to some malice, his eyes fall on cozy family photographs in nice domestic frames that he takes the trouble to keep there; and, when his mind is made up, he gestures irritably, guiltily, as if knowing he's letting them down and trying weakly to dismiss summarily aside their silent reproaches
The whole story is condensed into three days Yet it seems to have the natural, inevitable pace of real life; and the moments briefly taken out for little touches of New York street scenes add to the reality and place it in a context of truth
Very little violence is actually shown except in Davy's boxing match which, in just a few minutes, gives a better feeling than most movies of what it's like to lose a fight in the ring But, in spite of all, you're on the edge of your seat and you're glad to be there
There is a classic chase over the rooftops, but even here there are human touches that kill cliché These villains are not supermen, any more than Davy is: they can stumble on a fire escape, and not for laughs; one of them can fall as you or I would fall and drop out with a twisted ankle
The suspense is not lessened by these touches: it is increased, because it is more real, seems less contrived
"Killer's Kiss" was a first-class suspense film that foreshadowed conscious and technique that Kubrick was to take to the limit in later years And, after all, the ending was fair enough for the Fifties In the Seventies, Gloria would probably have got raped by the railway porter, and there'd have been a lot of unlovely detail and no suspense at all
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