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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.

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Doctor Robert Elliott
... Kate Miller
... Liz Blake
... Peter Miller
... Detective Marino
... Dr. Levy
Ken Baker ... Warren Lockman
... Betty Luce
... Cleveland Sam
Amalie Collier ... Cleaning Woman
Mary Davenport ... Woman in Restaurant
Anneka Di Lorenzo ... Nurse (as Anneka De Lorenzo)
Norman Evans ... Ted
Robbie L. McDermott ... Man in Shower
... 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:

Brian De Palma, Master of the Macabre, invites you to a showing of the latest fashion... ...in murder. See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 July 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vestida para matar  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$31,899,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It took poster photographic art director Stephen Sayadian five days to find the stiletto high heel shoes that were used in the one-sheet theatrical poster. Moreover, since said shoes were size eleven they had to be stuffed with tissue paper in order for the model to wear them. See more »

Goofs

At 55 minutes in the unrated version, Keith Gordon looks in the visor of his Super 8 camera. The format of the visor is 'Cinemascope', which has never been really possible with S8. Later, when we view the resulting movie, it is in the standard 4/3 format. 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.
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Connections

Referenced in RuPaul's Drag Race: Queens of Talk (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

It's a rip-off, but a stylish and mostly enjoyable one.
25 July 2003 | by See all my reviews

** 1/2 out of ****

Director Brian De Palma has never helmed a truly original film his entire career, but let's face it, he's just as good as anybody else when it comes to crafting palpable suspense, and it's this talent of his that makes his more blatant rip-offs immensely watchable. Dressed to Kill is one such example. Taking a few cues from Alfred Hitchcock, it's an erotic thriller that (mostly) emphasizes character and suspense over sleaze.

Angie Dickinson stars as Kate Miller, a sexually dissatisfied wife (though quite loving mother) who needs some things to spice up her personal life. She relates her problems to her psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Elliot (Michael Caine), to the point of almost prodding him to sleep with her, but he refuses. On a random day in an art museum, she encounters a mysterious man with whom she plays a little game of cat-and-mouse. Following him to a cab, they enage in a tryst inside the taxi, all the way to his apartment, where they proceed to go at it for several more hours. Then as she awakens to leave, she finds out through a little note by the health department he's got STD's! In a panicked state, she runs to the elevator, but is brutally murdered by a tall, blonde woman brandishing a razor blade. The rest of the film focuses on Miller's son, Peter (Keith Gordon), who teams up with a gold-hearted prostitute (Nancy Allen) to find his mother's killer.

Dressed to Kill doesn't get off to the best start. For the first half-hour, the sexual frustrations of this middle-aged woman are less than captivating, and until the elevator scene, this is a snoozer. But the remaining 2/3's or so of the picture is often first-rate entertainment, delivering an abundance of suspenseful moments and shocking violence.

The film improves drastically when it focuses on the relationship between Gordon and Allen. Both deliver good performances, and there's a non-sexual chemistry between them that works superbly. Too bad De Palma doesn't really focus on this interesting couple until the last half-hour.

The last five minutes are among the film's most suspenseful (and you get to see Allen naked!), though I think we're all in a little agreement when we say that the final shock is a bit gratuitous. Also excessive is the film's resemblance to a certain Hitchcock film. Even without that resemblance, though, Dressed to Kill would still have been predictable. I mean, come on, I knew the identity of the killer in a heartbeart. You'll figure it out just as fast, too.

Pino Dinaggio's score is chilling and among his better works. De Palma graces the screen with his usual camera work, there are a lot of uninterrupted shots and split-screens. A lot of people see Dressed to Kill as a "have safe sex" message, which I could kind of agree with, even though Dickinson's character would still have been offed in a horrible manner even without that tryst.

The first of De Palma's two erotic thrillers, Dressed to Kill happens to be the weaker of the two. Yeah, it's often suspenseful and entertaining, but Body Double stands out more, with better pacing, suspense, and direction. My advice, take a look at both and decide for yourself.


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