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A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

 -  Crime | Mystery | Romance  -  12 June 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,791 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 11 critic

A ruthless college student resorts to murder in a futile attempt to marry an heiress.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Title: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

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Complete credited cast:
Bud Corliss
Gordon Grant
Virginia Leith ...
Ellen Kingship
Dorothy ('Dorie') Kingship
Mrs. Corliss
Leo Kingship
Dwight Powell
Howard Petrie ...
Howard Chesser, Chief of Police
Bill Walker ...
Bill, the Butler
Molly McCart ...
Annabelle Koch
Marlene Felton ...
Medical Student


Student Bud Corliss is wooing Dorother Kingship purely for her father's mining fortune. When he finds she is pregnant he realises she is likely to be disinherited, so cleverly stages her suicide. After a couple of months her sister back home finds evidence to question the suicide verdict, but by then has a new boyfriend of her own... Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

12 June 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Kiss Before Dying  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)| (35 mm magnetic prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The picture was made and released about thirty-five years before the remake movie A Kiss Before Dying (1991) was made in 1990 and released in 1991. See more »


At the beginning of the film, where Dorie is crying on the bed, Bud goes over and turns on a small lamp on the dresser. The bright light streaming through the blinds in the window behind, spilling on to the far wall disappears - not instantly or all at once, but more slowly from right to left and finally in the window itself, as if a "barn door" or other shutter system was being closed on a light offstage. See more »


[first lines]
Bud Corliss: Crying isn't going to help.
Dorothy Kingship: I just can't help it.
See more »


Referenced in Girlfriends: A Kiss Before Lying (2001) See more »


A Kiss Before Dying
Music by Lionel Newman
Lyrics by Carroll Coates
Sung by Dolores Hawkins
See more »

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User Reviews

A well-delivered clash between genres and expectations
25 September 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When his girlfriend Dorie becomes pregnant, Bud Corliss knows that he will be trapped into a marriage and a child that he didn't want. Telling her to keep the whole thing a secret, Bud fools Dorie up onto the roof of a civic building before pushing her to her death and making it look like suicide. The police see it as open and shut but Dorie's sister smells a rat and believes that Dorie was going to the building to be married and that her intended groom was the one that killed her.

Opening with a theme music and bright colours that suggested a 1950's comedy, I was worried that I had been misled by the title that suggested much darker fare. However the story quickly unfolds with a young couple in trouble, suggesting it would be a dated melodrama; but as the story progresses it does become more sinister and much more of a dark thriller. The story doesn't always ring true but it is more than enough to engage and makes for a good base for the film even if it is other aspects that make it stronger.

Oswald's direction is a big plus because he mixes styles and genres well. He uses the colours and sets of a typically 1950's melodrama but at times the lighting, shot framing and music of a noir of sorts. The clash of genres works well, complimenting one another and making it seem more tense for being such a tough story within such a colourful and homely world of college students. The performances are roundly good. Wagner steals the show of course with a ruthless and selfish performance that could easily have been an one-note affair were it not for the script and Wagner's ability to bring out character in a couple of strong scenes (including an excellent one with his mother at a pool party). Woodward is convincingly naïve and works well with her character but I didn't think Leith suited Ellen that well, although I didn't totally buy her character either. Hunter is solid if uninspiring and the support cast are pretty much the same.

Overall this is an enjoyable film that works thanks to strength in several areas. The story is engaging enough but it was the direction, visual style and use of music that impressed me more. Add to this a dominating central performance from Wagner and you have a film that is worth checking out.

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Does the title sequence seem a tad light-hearted? br9young
Original so much better than the remake danskelle
I don't get it pebble1024
never noticed before ajprice-1
locations, locations, locations... mistercopacetic
Virginia Leith/Sean Young similarities usc_rick
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