A former prostitute relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society. But perverse secrets simmer beneath the wholesome surface.A former prostitute relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society. But perverse secrets simmer beneath the wholesome surface.A former prostitute relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society. But perverse secrets simmer beneath the wholesome surface.
the feminist macabre
I began looking into Sam Fuller after seeing a documentary about him on TV in which Scorsese, Tarantino, and Tim Robbins discussed his films. Scorsese also mentions Fuller in his "Personal Journey" film retrospective, in which he sites "The Naked Kiss" as a major influence. From what I've read, the studios found the material in "The Naked Kiss" to be a tad on the heinous side, and re-edited Fuller's film to the point where he didn't even want his name in the credits. His name is very much in the credits however, for soon after the film opens with a prostitute beating a man unconscious with the heel of her shoe, Fuller is named writer, director, and producer. I suspect that the discomfited staggering between camp, noir, and grotesque melodrama, might be more a result of studio tampering than Fuller's misdirection. It is also difficult to discern just what sort of censorship the studios achieved, for whatever they did was austerely permeated by social taboos the likes of abortion, prostitution, child molestation, and murder. These issues are treated by Fuller in a way that is decisively an ideological digression from noir, despite the film's sporadic use of noir's aesthetic. In noir, women are the enigmatic femme fatales: deceptive, seductive, fatal, and the primary antagonism of all men. It appears to be precisely the opposite in "The Naked Kiss." Fuller's protagonist, Kelly, an ex-hooker, tells a cop that you can always tell when a man is "a pervert" from his "naked kiss." Throughout the film, as Kelly encounters women dealing with abortion, prostitution, and pretty much just general depravity, Fuller shows men reinforcing and furthering their depravity, then condemning it when need be. The character of Griff, the cop, is the essence of this. To Fuller, there is a perversity in the way men treat women in American society, and it is reflected in the title of the film itself.
- Dec 25, 2004
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