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KILLER’S KISS (1955) ** ½

A down on his luck boxer falls for a lonely prostitute who lives in his apartment building.  Her pimp doesn’t like that, so he has his manager killed and kidnaps the ho.  In the end, the pissed-off pugilist has to duke it out to the death with the flesh merchant and his underworld underlings in order to secure a happy ending for himself.

 

Killer’s Kiss is a minor work by a young Stanley Kubrick.  It’s basically just a standard issue film noir drama with a one-note script and no real surprises.  And although the flick runs a scant 67 minutes, it still has way too much padding.  (The lame-o flashback that was nothing more than five straight minutes of a ballerina twirling around endlessly was especially annoying.)

 

Because this is Stanley Freakin’ Kubrick we’re talking about here, I got to say that the film did have moments of fleeting brilliance.  These moments had nothing to do with the plot or acting however, which was kinda unfortunate.  The film’s chief asset is Kubrick’s excellent cinematography.  Even on a shoestring budget he still manages to make little shots seems larger than life.  (There’s a really cool shot where our hero gazes yearningly into a fishbowl.)  Authentic fight footage and heaps of classy film noir atmosphere help to make the flick watchable and the final fight in a mannequin warehouse was pretty sweet too. 

 

If you’re a Kubrick fan, you’ll probably have fun spotting his signature touches and visual flourishes.  I did too, yet the thin plot and lazy acting left me wanting more.  Killer’s Kiss’s strengths are mostly superficial and/or technical but it’s not a total loss.  At worst, it’s an undercooked film noir movie; at best, it offers a glimpse of a burgeoning talent that would go on to be one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.

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