7.5/10
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Kiss of Death (1947)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | September 1947 (USA)
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2:20 | Trailer

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With his law-breaking lifestyle in the past, an ex-con, along with his family, attempt to start a new life, knowing a betrayed someone from the past is bound to see otherwise.

Director:

Henry Hathaway

Writers:

Ben Hecht (screenplay), Charles Lederer (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Victor Mature ... Nick Bianco
Brian Donlevy ... Assistant D.A. Louis D'Angelo
Coleen Gray ... Nettie
Richard Widmark ... Tommy Udo
Taylor Holmes ... Earl Howser--Attorney
Howard Smith ... Warden
Karl Malden ... Sgt. William Cullen
Anthony Ross ... 'Big Ed' Williams
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Storyline

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 <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It will mark you for life as it marked him for... Betrayal See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Stoolpigeon See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,520,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Henry Hathaway wasn't happy with the choice of Richard Widmark as the villain and wanted him removed from the picture. When Darryl F. Zanuck overruled him, he tried to make the shoot as uncomfortable for Widmark as possible. Widmark decided this wasn't for him and decided to quit one lunchtime. Hathaway persuaded him to stay and they completed the movie with a new respect for each other. They would go on to make another five movies together and Widmark was pallbearer at Hathaway's funeral. See more »

Goofs

While talking to convict Nick Bianco (Victor Mature) the Prison's Warden (Howard Smith) calls him "D'Angelo" ; which was the name of the Assistant District Attorney (Brian Donlevy). See more »

Quotes

Tommy Udo: I'm askin' ya, where's that squealin' son of yours?
[weird laugh]
Tommy Udo: You think a squealer can get away from me? Huh?
[crazy laugh]
Tommy Udo: You know what I do to squealers? I let 'em have it in the belly, so they can roll around for a long time thinkin' it over. You're worse than him, tellin' me he's comin' back? Ya lyin' old hag!
[maniacal laugh]
See more »

Alternate Versions

For the theatrical release in Manitoba, the shot of the woman in the wheelchair going down the staircase had to be shortened. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Street Scene
(uncredited)
Music by Alfred Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Shocking Screen Debut
26 December 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Richard Widmark belongs to a select few players who from their screen debut became instant stars. No bit parts, no walk-ons, Widmark's first feature role netted him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and stardom.

Widmark's portrayal of Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death shocked audiences nationwide. When Widmark tied up Mildred Dunnock and threw her down a flight of stairs, gasps aplenty came from audiences. That maniacal giggle became his trademark and fodder for impressionists from then on in. Widmark in fact had to really convince his bosses at 20th Century Fox that he was capable of more than being a psychopathic killer.

Widmark was fourth billed in this film and so dominates it that it's forgotten that Victor Mature is the lead and contributes a good performance in his own right. Mature is a career criminal who was left holding the bag for his associates during a jewel heist. He refuses to rat them out and gets a stretch in prison for it. By his refusal to be a stoolie, Mature gains the friendship of Widmark who has a special hatred for the breed.

Things then go bad for Mature when his wife commits suicide and his two little daughters wind up in an orphanage. At that point he rethinks becoming a stoolie for District Attorney Brian Donlevy and the main action of the film begins.

Mature gives a very good performance of a man running out of options. He's caught between concern for his family and living up to the honor system that criminals have among themselves. Brian Donlevy, usually a villain, does a good job as the District Attorney.

One other performance is worthy of note. Though he only has a few scenes, criminal defense attorney Taylor Holmes is also a real stand out. His Earle Houser is definitely one of the sleaziest lawyers ever portrayed on the screen.

For all the many good performances Richard Widmark has given in his 91 years, his debut film turned out to be the only time he was ever nominated for an Oscar. That's a shame because I could think of a couple of other films like Night and the City, Pickup on South Street and Panic in the Streets that would have been worthy of consideration.

Hopefully the American Film Institute will give Widmark a Lifetime Achievement Award and soon.


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