6.7/10
2,753
65 user 28 critic

A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 12 June 1956 (USA)
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A ruthless college student resorts to murder in a futile attempt to marry an heiress.

Director:

Gerd Oswald

Writers:

Lawrence Roman (screenplay), Ira Levin (novel)
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Inspired by the article "A Kiss Before Dying" by Pamela Colloff, published by Texas Monthly.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Wagner ... Bud Corliss
Jeffrey Hunter ... Gordon Grant
Virginia Leith ... Ellen Kingship
Joanne Woodward ... Dorothy ('Dorie') Kingship
Mary Astor ... Mrs. Corliss
George Macready ... Leo Kingship
Robert Quarry ... Dwight Powell
Howard Petrie ... Howard Chesser, Chief of Police
Bill Walker ... Bill, the Butler
Molly McCart Molly McCart ... Annabelle Koch
Marlene Felton Marlene Felton ... Medical Student
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 June 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ein Kuss vor dem Tode See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 9 critic reviews. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: A Test Before Trying (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Set the pace for modern thrillers
3 June 2006 | by cryofrySee all my reviews

Set against the backdrop of the shiny 1950s, "A Kiss Before Dying" is a taunt thriller that can arguably be voted the predecessor of many modern thrillers.

When the film starts, it looks like a glamorous, teenybopper flick. The opening song compliments this heavily, as does the numerous logos and neon colours used in the opening credits. Thinking back on it now, I find it to be a very unusual, brilliant style of film-making that isn't seen very often. It tricks the viewer into something it is not. It is not a 1950s college comedy, but a relentless thriller with lots of unexpected twists and turns. I thought this movie was going to be tame, being a 1950s film and all, but I was pleasantly surprised in how raw the plot was in some places.

A young Robert Wagner portrays Bud Corliss, a darkly handsome college student with an obsessive taste for riches and fine dining. Bud is a trouble 25 year-old man who still lives at home with his aging widowed mother (Mary Astor). He feels unfulfilled in his life and a little uncertain about his future. Dorothy Kingship (Joanne Woodward), a girl with whom he is having a secret relationship with, may be the only glimmer of hope that will lift him up out of his bland, disappointing life. Dorothy's father is incredibly wealthy, and Bud knows this. However, Dorie falls pregnant and Bud is threatened with disinheritance and the inevitable prospect of working as a gas station attendant in order to pay the bills for his wife a baby. This is where the film really takes off and we get to see how dark, desperate and evil Bud really is.

Bud devises a plan: stage his girlfriends suicide. The plan seems simple enough and actually works in Bud's favour. He is free of Dorie and the prospect of disinheritance, and is now able to court Dorie's older sister, Ellen (Virginia Leith), who is totally oblivious of the fact that Bud is Dorie's old flame (and murderer). Enter rookie detective Gordon Grant (Jeffrey Hunter), an intelligent young man who questions the circumstances surrounding Dorie's death, as well as the integrity of Ellen's new lover, Bud. He just has to put the gruesome pieces together to solve the complex puzzle of deceit and murder.

I recommend this movie to fans of the thriller genre, as well as those who want to take a trip down memory lane. Great film with top performance by all. Kudos to Jeffrey Hunter.


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