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Dressed to Kill (1980)

 -  Mystery | Thriller  -  25 July 1980 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 18,381 users  
Reviews: 176 user | 91 critic

A mysterious, tall blonde woman, wearing dark sunglasses murders one of a psychiatrist's patients, and now she goes after the high-priced call girl who witnessed the murder.

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Title: Dressed to Kill (1980)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Ken Baker ...
Susanna Clemm ...
Brandon Maggart ...
Amalie Collier ...
Cleaning Woman
Mary Davenport ...
Woman in Restaurant
Anneka Di Lorenzo ...
Nurse (as Anneka De Lorenzo)
Norman Evans ...
Ted
Robbie L. McDermott ...
Man in Shower
Bill Randolph ...
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Storyline

While taking a shower, Kate Miller, a middle-aged, sexually frustrated New York housewife, has a rape fantasy while her husband stands at the sink shaving. Later that day, after complaining to her psychiatrist Dr. Robert Elliott about her husband's pathetic performance in bed, she meets a strange man at a museum and returns to his apartment where they continue an adulterous encounter that began in the taxicab. Before she leaves his apartment, she finds papers which certify that the man has a venereal disease. Panicked, Kate rushes into the elevator, but has to return to his apartment when she realizes she's forgotten her wedding ring. When the elevator doors open, she's brutally slashed to death by a tall blonde woman wearing dark glasses. Liz Blake, a high-priced call girl, is the only witness to the murder and she becomes the prime suspect and the murderess's next target. Liz is rescued from being killed by Kate's son Peter, who enlists the help of Liz to catch his mother's killer ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Latest Fashion In Murder See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

X | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 July 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dressed to Kill  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$31,899,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As a young man, De Palma, at his mother's urging, actually followed his father and used recording equipment to try and catch him with another woman. That incident inspired this film. See more »

Goofs

When Kate writes the second letter, the first one disappears and reappears on the table between shots. See more »

Quotes

Bobbi: Don't make me be a bad girl again!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pieces (1982) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Stunning exercise in audience manipulation,possibly even MORE effective than it's model,Psycho
30 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho may be one of the most influential movies ever-for a start it was at least partially responsible for the whole subgenre of 'slasher' movies and the shower scene has inspired more homages than you can count. Brian De Palma's thriller Dressed To Kill is basically a semi remake of Psycho,right from the structure of it's story to it's villain right down to certain specific scenes. It's also an absolutely stunning piece of audience manipulation and perhaps more importantly a cracking thriller. Watch this film knowing about the Psycho element and as long as you don't mind some graphic sex and violence you should have a whale of a time. In fact,to a modern audience it may very well be more effective than Psycho {and this is coming from a big Hitckcock fan}.

De Palma's intentions are apparent right from the beginning,which shows a naked woman, played by Angie Dickinson 'enjoying herself' in a shower,with huge close ups of her breasts {not Angie Dickinson's though}. A man suddenly surprises and assaults her. Than we cut to Angie and her husband having loveless sex on a bed. This whole opening sequence has it all-the Psycho reference,the slight twisting of that reference,the dreamy eroticism,the sudden shock,the surprise. It shows De Palma,more than anything else,playing with his audience,manipulating them like puppets on strings. Yes,like Hitckcock,but sometimes going further. Basically,if you like this opening sequence,you will enjoy the rest of the film.

While there definitely IS a plot {quite a familiar one,but you should know this by now},it is Dressed To Kill's set pieces that stand out,that show De Palma's brilliance. There's a dreamlike and subtly erotic sequence in an art gallery where Dickinson is picked up by a stranger,an incredible murder in a lift which is shocking without showing THAT much blood,a thrilling chase in an underground train station where the heroine is pursued not just by the killer but for a while by a gang of youths,a very scary ending about which I won't go into {except that it features another shower scene!}but where the tension is ramped up to an incredible degree. Here,De Palma is BETTER than Hitchcock.

Although the best scenes are those without dialogue,where De Palma just lets Pino Donnaggio's lush,darkly beautiful score take over the sound,there is quite a bit of fun to be had in the often deliberately humorous dialogue,and the really rather cute relationship between nerdy Keith Gordon and tough as nails Nancy Allen,who make a great team. The identity of the killer is not exactly hard to spot,perhaps more work could have been done here,but going by the cheeky attitude of the film in general this may have been intentional.

When Dressed To Kill originally came out it was heavily criticised for being misogynist,especially with the first third of the film {just in case you HAVEN'T seen Psycho,I won't go into detail}. I've always believed that this part of the film is about the possible dangers of indulging one's fantasies. De Palma is NOT a misogynist anyway really,think of the many memorable heroines of his films. Even if you disagree, see Dressed to Kill to see an oft criticised but occasionally brilliant director at the height of his powers.


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