Summer Moviethon 2016: Killer's Kiss

July 10: #26, Killer's Kiss

Well anyway, I guess the whole thing is silly...know a girl for two days and fall in love.”

Stanley Kubrick's second feature film Killer's Kiss fakes out the viewer as it appears to be another film noir exercise where nothing works out for anybody until pretty late in the movie. Still, the black and white film shows off Kubrick making excellent use of light and shadows and even filming a pretty visceral low-angle boxing sequence, to boot. Of particular note in the fight is how Kubrick captures the disorientation of a downed fighter.

However, the film's acting and dialogue are not particularly memorable, and are downright bad in scenes such as an early moment where female lead Irene Kane (playing Gloria, lead character Davey's neighbor) argues with her employer/lover, the nefarious Vincent Rapallo (played by Frank Silvera).

For the sake of the film's very fast pace, Davey and Irene fall in love literally within a day or two, which Davey himself even mentions as peculiar a couple of times as the film proceeds. Davey is then instantly willing to risk it all for his new girlfriend, getting himself embroiled in serious trouble due to a misunderstanding that all starts with a stolen scarf on the street.

It's all a little silly, but Kubrick manages to shine with imaginative shots such as a wide shot of Vincent's henchmen advancing toward a cornered man in the darkness and a long, dark alley shot during a chase scene that gives way to a shot looking down from the fire escape as Davey scampers up it to get away from his pursuers. There's some clever, if obvious, symbolism as well (the “Watch Your Step” sign that's in the foreground midway through the film as Irene confronts her boss).

At the end, everything gets tied with a neat little bow and Killer's Kiss becomes a film that isn't bad, but is only really notable because of what Kubrick would do after it.

Grade: C+

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