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Dressed to Kill (1980)

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A mysterious blonde woman kills one of a psychiatrist's patients, and then goes after the high-class call girl who witnessed the murder.

Director:

Brian De Palma

Writer:

Brian De Palma
Reviews
Popularity
3,383 ( 195)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Doctor Robert Elliott
Angie Dickinson ... Kate Miller
Nancy Allen ... Liz Blake
Keith Gordon ... Peter Miller
Dennis Franz ... Detective Marino
David Margulies ... Dr. Levy
Ken Baker Ken Baker ... Warren Lockman
Susanna Clemm ... Betty Luce
Brandon Maggart ... Cleveland Sam
Amalie Collier Amalie Collier ... Cleaning Woman
Mary Davenport Mary Davenport ... Woman in Restaurant
Anneka Di Lorenzo Anneka Di Lorenzo ... Nurse (as Anneka De Lorenzo)
Norman Evans Norman Evans ... Ted
Robbie L. McDermott Robbie L. McDermott ... Man in Shower
Bill Randolph ... Chase Cabbie
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Storyline

While taking a shower, Kate Miller, a middle-aged, sexually frustrated New York City housewife, has a rape fantasy while her husband stands at the sink shaving. Later that day, after complaining to her psychiatrist Dr. Robert Elliott about her husband's pathetic performance in bed, she meets a strange man at a museum and returns to his apartment where they continue an adulterous encounter that began in the taxicab. Before she leaves his apartment, she finds papers which certify that the man has a venereal disease. Panicked, Kate rushes into the elevator, but has to return to his apartment when she realizes she's forgotten her wedding ring. When the elevator doors open, she's brutally slashed to death by a tall blonde woman wearing dark sunglasses. Liz Blake, a high-class call girl, is the only witness to the murder and she becomes the prime suspect and the murderess's next target. Liz is rescued from being killed by Kate's son Peter, who enlists the help of Liz to catch his mother's ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Every nightmare has a beginning...This one never ends. See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 July 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dressed to Kill See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$31,899,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Critics seemed to love Angie Dickinson's put upon housewife Kate Miller performance, and to hate Nancy Allen's sassy call girl Liz Blake performance. Many critics have openly wondered why Dickinson's tragic performance did not get an Oscar nod; whereas Nancy Allen got a Razzie nomination that year for Worst performance. This may have to do with audiences being more accepting (at that time) of women in victim roles than heroic roles. See more »

Goofs

When Kate gets into the taxicab after the museum, there is a specific rate listed on the outside of the taxicab. When she gets out, there is a different rate. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Robert Elliott: How are things going with you and Mike?
Kate Miller: Fine.
Doctor Robert Elliott: Good.
Kate Miller: [considering for a moment] No, they're not fine. What a stupid word that is. He gave me one of his wham-bang specials today and I'm mad at him. Isn't that right? Shouldn't I be mad at him?
Doctor Robert Elliott: Yeah. Did you tell him?
Kate Miller: Of course not. I moaned with pleasure at his touch - isn't that what every man wants?
Doctor Robert Elliott: I don't know. Is it?
Kate Miller: Don't start that stuff with me.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the last scene of the film, where Bobbi slashes Liz's throat with a razor, and she awakens, realizing it's only a nightmare, an extreme close-up on Liz's throat that shows the bleeding, gaping wound, was cut to avoid an X rating. See more »

Connections

Featured in Terror in the Aisles (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

The Shower (Main Title Theme)
(uncredited)
Composed by Pino Donaggio
Conducted by Natale Massara
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
prime form, trite contents
31 October 2006 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

In France, it's considered polite from French critics to genuflect to the apparently cohesive chain of films Brian De Palma left behind him. However, a good proportion of his films are marred by bombastic effects "Carrie" (1976), "the Fury" (1978) "Scarface" (1983) without mentioning his borrowings from Hitchcock. Here, in "Dressed to Kill", it's impossible not to think of "Vertigo" (1958) for the long sequence in the museum while the key moment in the lift makes inevitably think of the shower anthology sequence in "Psycho" (1960). About our involved film, I don't want to revive the old debate: does De Palma rip off Hitchcock? Instead, i would tend to be generous and to classify "Dressed to Kill" in the category of De Palma's winners alongside "Sisters" (1973) and "Obssession" (1976). With however some reservations and they're the ones I previously enumerated which fuel the bickering between De Palma's rabid fans and his detractors.

If there's one sure thing in "Dressed to Kill" which can generate general agreement among film-lovers, it's De Palma's virtuosity in directing. He wields his camera just like a filmmaker expert is supposed to do. His sophisticated camera work brilliantly fuels the suspense which entails a rise of the tension and a discomforting aura. The audience is easily glued in front of the screen. This is helped by the use of several long silent sequences during which everything depends on looks and gestures. By the way, in "Psycho", there were also long silent, suspenseful parts...

But the main drawback in De Palma's 1980 vintage is that the quality of the plot can't be found wanting and appears to be a rehash of many formulaic, corny ingredients pertaining to an incalculable number of murder stories. The prostitute is the sole witness of the crime. Then, she's suspected by the police and has to act on her own (with a little help from the victim's son from the scene in the subway onwards)) to track down the murderer and to prove her innocence. Apart from the fact that De Palma uses a type of character who for once isn't demeaned at all, it's a menu which smells the reheated. And the filmmaker ends his film on a sequence that echoes to the opening one. Yes, it's superbly filmed but when one discovers its real function, one figures: "it's almost gratuitous filler". Perhaps De Palma wanted to stretch his film beyond one hour and a half when at this time the viewer knows (and even before) who the killer is.

The two central mainsprings in De Palma's set of themes articulate hinges on manipulation and voyeurism. The latter theme is well present in "Dressed to Kill" from the first scene onwards which makes the film almost look like a soft porn movie. And the filmmaker isn't afraid to film his main actress and wife Nancy Allen in her underwear. I find his approach about this theme rather doubtful. But maybe the first sequence was conceived to be a mirror of the viewer and De Palma wanted to stir his peeping tom side.

I don't want to demean at all De Palma's work. His prestigious work in directing which entails a communicative treat to film redeems the global weakness of the story and its doubtful aspects. Twenty six years after, the controversy he aroused amid movie-goers isn't ready to subside.


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