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


Gerd Oswald


Lawrence Roman (screenplay), Ira Levin (novel)





Complete credited cast:
Robert Wagner ... Bud Corliss
Jeffrey Hunter ... Gordon Grant
Virginia Leith ... Ellen Kingship
Joanne Woodward ... Dorothy Kingship
Mary Astor ... Mrs. Corliss
George Macready ... Leo Kingship
Robert Quarry ... Dwight Powell
Howard Petrie ... Police Chief Howard Chesser
Bill Walker ... Bill
Molly McCart Molly McCart ... Annabelle Koch
Marlene Felton 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


Some secrets can't be kept ... they have to be buried !


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Did You Know?


The Kingship's big black limo is a 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood 75. Despite only 889 being made, this car is not in demand with collectors with top examples being worth less than $35,000 at auction in 2019. See more »


Near the end, Gordon is riding to the mine in a Cadillac limousine that has air conditioning, as indicated by small air scoops on both sides behind the back doors. The next shots (after the accident) show a different Cadillac without them. Cars of this era with factory installed air conditioning had half of the system in the trunk, requiring outside air via those little air scoops. See more »


[first lines]
Bud Corliss: Crying isn't going to help.
Dorothy Kingship: I just can't help it.
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Referenced in Living Single: A Kiss Before Lying (1993) See more »


A Kiss Before Dying
Music by Lionel Newman
Lyrics by Carroll Coates
Sung by Dolores Hawkins
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User Reviews

Peculiar but entertaining mixture
1 January 2011 | by Felix-28See all my reviews

I read Ira Levin's book when I was young, sometime in the 1960s, and loved it. It's very chilling, and I think as good as Rosemary's Baby. Better than the Stepford Wives and Boys from Brazil.

This film is a quite bizarre mixture of the chilling and the comical. Someone above has mentioned the scene where Bud and Dorie are having an intense conversation when suddenly a middle-aged woman in a completely see-through blouse with a great big bra underneath walks between them and halts the conversation; she has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, and when it happened I literally burst out laughing at the incongruousness of it. I also laughed at Jeffrey Hunter's ridiculous attempts to manipulate heavy Clark Kent spectacles and an unlit pipe in a vain attempt to appear mature.

The good points about the film are the plot, which is gripping even though it's been shortened markedly from the book, and some of the acting, particularly Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward -- and I also enjoyed George Macready as the father of Dorie and Ellen.

The fact is that I was consistently interested or amused or gripped by something or other for the whole of the film. You can't really ask for much more from a film.

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Release Date:

12 June 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Kiss Before Dying See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Crown Productions (II) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)| Mono (Western Electric Recording) (35 mm optical prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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