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Dressed to Kill
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love De Palma's style

Author: SnoopyStyle
11 July 2015

Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) is a sexually frustrated NYC housewife with science nerd son Peter (Keith Gordon). She goes to psychiatrist Doctor Robert Elliott (Michael Caine). She has an affair with a stranger and then is killed in the elevator by a tall blonde woman with a straight razor. Call girl Liz Blake (Nancy Allen) sees the killer in the elevator and picks up the razor. Detective Marino (Dennis Franz) investigates as she becomes the main witness, a suspect and the next target. Marino gives her 48 hours to find her out of town client who ran away after seeing bloody Kate.

I love director Brian De Palma's split screen style. He does it not only with actual split screens but also by splitting the action between background and foreground. There are three amazing high tension thrill scenes. The subway scene, the thunderstorm scene and the final bathroom scene are so memorable. They are all terrific. Dennis Franz is over acting as the hard-talking cop. Also I wasn't as concerned about the transgender serial killer stereotype back in the day when I first saw this movie. I think these are minor missteps that this thriller more than make up for.

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A fashionable mystery thriller.

Author: OllieSuave-007 from California, USA
19 June 2015

A classic mystery thriller starring Angie Dickinson as Kate Miller, a sexually frustrated psychological patient who gets into an affair with a man she met at a museum. After their rendezvous, Kate is murdered by a blonde woman, who subsequently goes after high-class call girl Liz Blake (Nancy Allen), who witnesses the crime.

It's an alluring mystery that blends in lust, drama and thrills from beginning to end. The first part of the movie with Dickinson is pretty mesmerizing as we learn of her character's psychological and sex life issues. It then leads to the enthralling lengthy museum scene, where she follows a stranger around, hoping for a rendezvous. The plot continues to keep you engaged when Nancy Allen comes on screen as the call girl, teaming up with Kate Miller's son Peter (Keith Gordon) to track down the killer.

While the second half of the movie does have some thrilling moments, I thought that it drifted away from the main Kate Miller plot too much. Also, some of the characters weren't emotionally connected to the story, especially when Kate's husband seemed unphased his wife's been murdered and her psychologist (Michael Caine) has not offered a "I'm sorry about your loss" to the son. Even worst is the detective investigating the case (Dennis Franz), who acted like an unsympathetic a-hole to all those affected by the tragedy.

Overall, though, it's a good, entertaining thriller that, for the most part, is well-paced and intriguing.

Grade B

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The most American-Giallo. Stylish, sexual, violent, and inventive.

Author: insomniac_rod from Noctropolis
7 February 2015

Fantastic entry in the Giallo sub-genre from Director De Palma who knows perfectly his references, mainly Dario Argento, although he has denied to being influenced by the Italian maestro.

This film is very sexual, violent, and creative in terms of plot. It also features plenty of humor courtesy of the young son of one of the killer's victims because of his investigation techniques (ahead of their time).

The acting is stellar, the plot very intriguing, and the gore is fantastic although is only present in one scene. Dario Argent should be proud of the elevator scene.

A great addition to the Giallo sub-genre.

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A stylish if not altogether satisfying thriller

Author: JasparLamarCrabb from Boston, MA
29 June 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bored housewife Angie Dickinson cheats on her husband and pays the ultimate price --- she's killed by a maniac who looks an awful lot like her. While this is certainly a stylishly made thriller, its script is a bit bit hollow. Nevertheless, Dickinson gives a gutsy performance; she's well matched by Michael Caine as her psychiatrist. As a hooker who witnesses the murder, Nancy Allen almost steals the film and Keith Gordon is very good as Dickinson's highly resourceful son. Director Brian De Palma keeps things moving with his never stopping camera, aided by a pulse pounding score courtesy of Pino Donaggio. The editing by Gerald B. Greenberg is fairly astounding. It's become a classic despite the fact that it's not particularly satisfying.

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Dial "M" for More Violence

Author: Sample ( from Hollywood
26 April 2002

De Palma's finest shocker... the director emulated Alfred Hitchcock in this more urban-sophisticated version of "Psycho," giving us the actual skin cutting instead of the mere suggestion of it (courtesy of the currently available DVD Unrated version).

The carnage takes place the first third of the film, and you'd be advised not to get too settled in this one because, who knows, there are more victims' lives to claim, and the straight razor is still missing.

Angie Dickinson does an admirable job, and says a few interesting things in one of several documentaries included on the DVD. De Palma is just now really getting his due as a director of considerable merit. It wasn't always so, especially since "Dressed to Kill" outraged (and shocked) many people when it was first released... female or not... and the reverberation from its violent impact is still felt by audiences today. Again, violent and shocking.

I liked this one immensely, but make sure you possess steel nerves before watching it.

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De Palma's problem with his Father

Author: vostf ( from Paris, Fr
14 June 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's always interesting for a movie enthusiast to look about for references. The Hitchcockian references in Dressed to kill are so numerous that it tends to be a psychotherapy for little de Palma to show he is as strong as his father.

Most de Palma's movies are full of such long-drawn-out references. Sisters and Obsession for instance are based on Psycho and Vertigo. Dressed to kill uses both to a wide extent. But neither did it avoids technical or visual clichés of the 70s.

(SPOILERS TO COME) The main idea for de Palma was to recycle the starting point of Psycho which is to get rid of the main character before the middle of the movie. Angie Dickinson's death is not so shocking as Janet Leigh's. Her wandering is just about sexual affection and even before she gets gored she is threatened by a possible venereal disease infection. This is much too heavy. Of course there is a shower scene at the beginning. Erotic the way 70 movies thought would be artistic (hazy-ach so). The museum scene is a nice homage to Vertigo (I dare use that word because there is much of a reference) but it turns into something breaking the visual pace. Something leading to unsafe raw sex. With the menace of the stranger tailing her.

De Palma appears to be less self-assured once he achieves part.1: the Hell with my main character. There is no such mystery as after you get flabbergasted under the shower in Psycho. The investigation revolves around Michael Caine's character. As with Norman Bates. He dresses like a woman. But he is quite original with his razor (reminds me the lift-shower scene is also a reference to the glasses reflecting the murder in Strangers on a train. Then the razor becomes a suspense key as was Robert Walker's lighter).

The final part is also made of references to Vertigo and Psycho. I shall add Rear Window since the peeping nerd is closer to the impotent Jimmy Steward sending Grace Kelly for a crime evidence. Anyway what Nancy Allen does inside Caine's flat is close to Kim Novak's ambiguous character in Vertigo. Then let's finish as we started: with Psycho. Caine's arrest is similar to Norman Bates' but above all, after a lovers'meal without Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, we go to asylum. Here we find the murderer more terrifying than ever with his interiorized insanity. Those last images are great and I have to acknowledge de Palma knows how to finish (Sisters'last images already made that good impression upon me). (END OF SPOILING SESSION)

Nevertheless this is a patchwork. Having seen previously the major Hitchcock movies I am surely very tough on that movie but I do not think it deserves leniency for there is little creativity in it. Not bad, sure but de Palma's directing is heavy with his industrious references. Go and see the original Hitchcock movies. I'll refund you twice the difference.

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A sex twist on Psycho (SPOILERS)

Author: narrator- from Sydney, Australia
24 March 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Brian De Palma tries his best to be Hitchcock and succeeds greatly in this brutal, intense and sometimes brilliant shocker. Great music score pervades this story about a teenager who tries to solve the murder of his mother, along with the help of a hooker who witnessed it. While it borrows heavily from Psycho (The apparent heroine is killed halfway through the film, and the killers motive is explained by a doctor in an almost identical way to the doctor explaining Norman Bates motive) and the dream sequence at the end is too similar to De Palma's Carrie, this is an intense and entertaining sex-thriller. 8/10.

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a walk on the sleazy side

Author: zane ( from santa cruz, ca
12 July 1999

I saw the first movie for the first time when I was about thirteen and it instantly became one of my favorites. Throughout the years, I've shown to all my family members and friends who, on the whole, have been much less enthusiastic about than I am. Seven years later, I can recognize that the movie has flaws. It's derivative(with a plot taken from Hitchcock's "psycho"), the rape fantasy scene is misogynistic, the scene of the hooker being pursued by street thugs is racist, the slow-motion scenes are excessive and melodramatic, and the resolution is an offense to transgendered people everywhere. But you know what...I DON'T CARE, I still love this move. I don't love it for De Palma's heavy-handed direction, which no longer impresses like it did when I was kid. I certainly don't love it because of the great acting although I think nancy allen (Mrs. De Palma at the time) never looked or acted better than she did in this film. This may not be saying much since, aside from the films she made with her husband, the highlight of her career has been the "Robocop" movies. However, I love this movie because, to me, it perfectly captures the mood and ambience of the sleazy underside of the New York city in the late seventies and early eighties. Outside of soft-core porn, you'll not find a better evocation of those grimy, trashy, sexually promiscuous "porno chic" days. Before Aids and before Times Square was turned into a Disney tourist attraction, New York city represented everything that was dirty, uncontrolled, and dangerous in American society and human sexuality. Since I wasn't an adult at the time, I guess I shouldn't romanticize an era that most people don't seem to looking back to but I can't help it. To me, De Palma's "Dressed to Kill" is a time capsule of a time and era when there were still taboos being broken and a lot of people were doing very bad things.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

a dark and intelligent mystery thriller that is brilliant

Author: johnathanfrost from new hampshire
26 May 2014

Brian DE Palma has always been A controversial director for his usage of violence and nudity in his films, and some people consider his films trashy and sexist. But in my opinion his films have a really deep meaning than a lot of people think. His films are violent and they do have nudity and sexuality but he does not use it just for the sake of having the kind of content he uses it in many ways like to explain something about A character or how much to characters feel about each other. but for some reason many people think this film is a Alfred Hitchcock rip of and to me that not true. Brian De Palma gave the film A style of its own that separate's the film for A Hitchcock thriller, like in the way he tells the story and the way the characters develops throughout the film. Dressed to kill has a wonderful cast with famous actors like Michael who gives A wonderful and memorable performance, And Angie Dickinson who is just wonderful in her role, I also love Nancy Allen in this film because She brings A feeling of realism to her character, I think everyone in the film brings the same feeling to me, Brian DE Palma has a style that to me completely separates him from Alfred Hitchcock. Pino Donnagio's score is gorgeous and unforgettable he is to me one of the best composers of his time. in the end dressed to kill is one of Brian DE Palmas greatest achievements of his long and wonderful career and established him as one of the master of suspense.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Good girl gone wild

Author: Raul Faust from Joinville, Brazil
11 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hey, my first congratulations for this movie is the way it developed until it revealed who was the woman in black. Considering this kind of movie rarely let you know who it is by giving you some hints, I didn't hardly try to figure out the lunatic. However, even if I did, I am convinced I wouldn't think that Batman's majordomo was the one. One thing to comment is how hardly my heart started beating in the infirmary hugging scene-- you'll know what I'm talking about. Furthermore, Brian De Palma surely made a GOOD movie with smart development, atmosphere and twist, but we have to admit he was very inspired in 1960's "Psycho" and the way Hitchcock used to make his movies. If it wasn't this lack of originality, I'm pretty sure this film would be much more recognizable. "Dressed to Kill" entertains, thrills and scares whenever it wants, showing how skilled director is. Recommended!

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