Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death

4.0 1
Director: Henry Hathaway

Cast: Henry Hathaway, Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray

     
 

Based in part on a true story, Kiss of Death is given a veneer of reality by being filmed on location in New York, per the insistence of director Henry Hathaway..Victor Mature plays Nick Bianco, a cheap crook who commits a Christmastime jewelry store heist with his gang, and manages to get the rap while the others slip by the police unnoticed. Nick refuses toSee more details below

Overview

Based in part on a true story, Kiss of Death is given a veneer of reality by being filmed on location in New York, per the insistence of director Henry Hathaway..Victor Mature plays Nick Bianco, a cheap crook who commits a Christmastime jewelry store heist with his gang, and manages to get the rap while the others slip by the police unnoticed. Nick refuses to testify on the others, and gets sent up the river for 20 years for robbery. Before he goes to prison, he's assured by the criminal element that his wife and children will be taken care of while he's behind bars (thanks in no small part to his refusal to testify), but this is a blatant lie: during his incarceration, he learns that the family has gone broke, his wife committed suicide and his children have been sent to an orphanage. Furious, Nick summons district attorney Louie d'Angelo (Brian Donlevy) and makes an unusual deal: parole, in exchange for his willingness to squeal on the others. Louie expresses particularly strong interest in nabbing sadistic mob torpedo Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark, in his chilling screen debut), and helps secure Nick's release with the understanding that Nick will ingratiate himself with Tommy. This he does, spending inordinate amounts of time with the psychopath and earning the man's trust. Meanwhile, Nick also falls in love with Nettie (Colleen Gray), marries her, and regains custody of his two young daughters. The family moves to a small house together (with Nick living under an assumed name), but Louie realizes that his cover will soon be blown. To make matters even more complicated, Louie soon comes calling and pressures Nick into testifying against Tommy. Nick hesitates, given his concern that Tommy will come after him as soon as police surveillance lifts. Moreover, Tommy has a few nasty tricks of his own, however, and vows to make life as difficult as possible for Nick. This is the film in which Widmark's character gigglingly pushes a wheelchair-bound old lady down a flight of stairs. Reviewer James Agee said it best: "You feel that murder is the kindest thing he is capable of." The film made Widmark a star--and also convinced him to start lobbying immediately for good-guy roles so that he wouldn't be typecast as maniacal killers for life. Kiss of Death was remade as the 1958 western The Fiend Who Walked the West, then re-remade under its original title in 1994, with David Caruso in the Mature role and Nicolas Cage in the Widmark part, and the violence and nudity dramatically elevated to conform with the times.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The 1947 version of Kiss of Death is best remembered for Richard Widmark's screen debut as a sadistic, tittering killer, but the film holds up well on its own as an example of film noir. It also features one of Victor Mature's best performances. Mature was traditionally considered more of a sex symbol than an actor, but his role in Kiss of Death backed up his fine work the year before as Doc Holliday in John Ford's My Darling Clementine. The typical but compelling noir plot -- based on the Oscar-nominated story by Eleazar Lipsky -- is given an impressive dose of realism courtesy of the on-location shoot in New York City, which differentiated the film from the stylized studio claustrophobia of most noirs, while maintaining the genre's trademark tension and suspense. Widmark, who would be remembered throughout his career for his role as the wonderfully named Tommy Udo, deserved the plaudits he received, including his only Academy Award nomination. Kiss of Death was remade as the Western The Fiend Who Walked the West in 1958 and again in 1995 with the original title, directed by Barbet Schroeder and starring David Caruso and Nicolas Cage.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/06/2005
UPC:
0024543183532
Original Release:
1947
Rating:
NR
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:39:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Commentary by film historians James Ursini & Alain Silver; Still gallery; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Victor Mature Nick Bianco
Brian Donlevy Louie D'Angelo
Coleen Gray Nettie
Richard Widmark Tommy Udo
Karl Malden Sgt. William Cullen
Taylor Holmes Earl Howser
Mildred Dunnock Ma Rizzo
Howard I. Smith Warden
Anthony Ross Williams
Millard Mitchell Max Schulte
Temple Texas Blondie
Jack Smart Skeets
Nina Borget Cashier
Anne Grey Actor
Robert Keith Judge
Billy O'Leary Policeman
Wendell Phillips Pep Magone
Bernie Sell Actor
Herbert Holcombe City Jail Guard
Irene Shirley Nun
Don Giovanni Gangster
Jack Rutherford Policeman
George Smith Policeman
Pat Malone Policeman
John Kullers Prisoner
Victor Thorley Sing Sing Guard
William Zuckert Sing Sing Guard
Steve Roberts Guard
Gregg Martell Guard
Iris Mann Congetta
Norman McKay Capt. Dolan
Richard Taber Taxi Driver
Jesse White Taxi Driver
Robert Karnes Hoodlum
Harry Carter Detective
Robert Adler Detective
Charles McClelland Detective
Carl Milletaire Customer
Mel Ruick Moremann's Assistant
John Marley Al
Alexander Campbell Train Conductor
Harold Gary Doorman
Dort Clark Man in Car
Perc Launders Lieutenant
Tito Vuolo Luigi
Dave Fresco Waiter

Technical Credits
Henry Hathaway Director
Ben Hecht Screenwriter
Norbert F. Brodin Cinematographer
David Buttolph Score Composer
W.D. Flick Sound/Sound Designer
Leland Fuller Art Director
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Fred Kohlmar Producer
Charles Lederer Screenwriter
Charles LeMaire Costumes/Costume Designer
Eleazar Lipsky Original Story
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Lionel Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Makeup
Fred Sersen Special Effects
J. Watson Webb Editor
Lyle Wheeler Art Director

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Kiss of Death
1. Main Titles [1:31]
2. Christmas Shopping [5:39]
3. Family Values [6:30]
4. Cellmates [3:43]
5. Widowed [3:58]
6. Welcome Visitor [5:15]
7. Cashing In the Policy [8:08]
8. The Children [3:43]
9. Attorney at Work [3:51]
10. Squealor [5:12]
11. Out [3:52]
12. Just Having Fun [7:30]
13. Happy at Last [4:03]
14. The Bubble Bursts [4:03]
15. The Long Wait [6:06]
16. Vacation [2:46]
17. For Protection [6:03]
18. Playing Offense [5:04]
19. How's the Family? [6:45]
20. The Takedown [5:00]

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