Killer's Kiss

1955
Not rated

Drama / Suspense / Thriller

28 September, 1955

Stanley Kubrick's second feature film, Killer's Kiss was made on a budget of $40,000, all raised by Kubrick's relatives. The black-and-white drama was shot principally at night in a variety of seedy Manhattan locations. The plot, told in an extended flashback, covers two days in the life of boxer Davy Gordon (Jamie Smith) -- he meets nightclub dancer Gloria Price (Irene Kane); the two fall in love, and decide to make their futures somewhere other than New York City. But Gloria is lusted after by her ex-employer, Vince Rapallo (Frank Silvera), who not only won't take no for an answer but has no intention of losing her to a two-bit boxer. His machinations lead to murder, a police manhunt, and revenge in the best film noir fashion -- the very best, in fact, as Kubrick's use of real New York settings (and very ominous and sleazy New York settings at that) gives the action here a startling verisimilitude, as though we're watching a documentary, or the unfolding of actual events. The violence escalates as Davy and Rapallo find themselves going one-on-one, to the death if need be, with a climax in a warehouse filled with department store mannequins and their various component parts. Director-writer-photographer-editor Kubrick wasn't pleased with the studio-imposed ending added by its distributor (United Artists), but that compromise was a lot more logical and satisfying than the filmmaker's intended denouement. Irene Kane, who played the female lead, subsequently achieved success as TV commentator and journalist Chris Chase; also appearing in the film is Kubrick's then-wife Ruth Sobotka. And Frank Silvera, who plays the villain, was among the most prominent black actors working in theater and films during the 1950s, and eventually achieved stardom on television a dozen years later with his role on the NBC series The High Chapparal.~ Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide

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