Killers Kiss


“Can't you get it, Vinny? To me you're just an old man. You smell bad. ”

From Killer's Kiss, 1955

One of the most inventive, influential, and highly acclaimed filmmakers in the history of American cinema is Stanley Kubrick. He was born in the late 1920s and during his late 20s, already managed to direct his own films. His films are distinguished for its formal style and thorough attention to details. In the 1950s alone, he was able to produce and direct three films entitled Fear and Desire, Killer’s Kiss, and The Killing and the Paths of Glory. He was 26 when he filmed the Killer’s Kiss.

Killer’s Kiss movie is one of the thrillers that were released in 1955. Howard Sackler, and Stanley Kubrick wrote the screenplay of this film. Kubrick also directed, and edited this film. Gerald Fried composed its music. The Killer’s Kiss movie was shown in 1955. It was a short feature film running for slightly over an hour; 67 minutes to be exact.

The musical scoring, back then was naturally dubbed while filming. Unfortunately, Kubrick was not satisfied with the way it turned out so he redid everything and made post-dubbing. The movie starred Jamie Smith (taking the lead role of Davy Gordon) and Irene Cane (as the leading lady role of Gloria Price). It is also in Killer’s Kiss movie where Kubrick’s second wife, Ruth Sobotka, made her cameo appearance on screen. The film is distributed by the United Artists.

The protagonist, Davy Gordon (role played by Jamie Smith) remembers the events of last couple of days as he sits and waits for a train at Pennsylvania Station in New York. Davy is a young boxer aged about 29 years, busily practicing for this next boxing match with Kid Rodriguez.. His career as a welterweight boxer is on the wane.

He had a match with Kid Rodriguez a couple of days ago, and was preparing his moves mentally. From his small apartment, he is able to see the other end of the building. Right across this distance was the apartment of a beautiful young woman, Gloria Price (role played by Irene Kane), who worked as taxi dancer with a nightclub owned by Rapallo (role played by Frank Silvera).

Davy was attracted to Gloria, though he barely knew her. As he was leaving for his fight, she too was leaving for her work. While the two did come across each other on their way out from the apartment, each remained too intent on reaching their respective destinations. So, neither shared more than a glance.

Davy lost the fight. In the meanwhile, Gloria’s boss tried to kiss her in his office but she manages to escape. The two return to their respective homes. That night, Davy hears the screams coming from Gloria’s apartment, and looks through her bedroom window. From his room, he sees Gloria being attacked by her boss He finds that Rapallo is attempting to rape her. Davy rushes out to rescue Gloria, and is able to send Rapallo away.

Throughout the story, Vincent constantly interferes with their lives. Gloria tells him about her life, and that she needs the job desperately for her sustenance. She also lets him know about Rapallo’s sexual harassment. Feeling secure because of Davy’s presence, Gloria falls asleep.

The following morning the two decide to leave the town and go to Seattle. Davy has an uncle there. Davy suggests that they could stay with that uncle for a while. However, some monies were needed. Davy’s manager, Albert, owes him some monies. Davy decides to collect those monies. Gloria also calls up her boss, and tells him that she would be leaving for good. Rapallo doesn’t take it lightly. He sends his henchmen to bring Gloria, and kill Davy.

These henchmen go to Albert in search of Davy, and kill Albert presuming him to be Davy. But Davy had already collected his monies before that. Rapallo personally takes away Gloria, and keeps her captive in a warehouse that contains several mannequins. On returning, Davy starts searching for Gloria. He chases Rapallo over several rooftops in New York, before killing him. Not finding Gloria anywhere around, he presumes she has been killed. So he starts leaving the town without waiting for her. The train arrives, and he moves towards the platform. Just then, Gloria also arrives. Both of them get into the train together, and leave New York.

In January 14, 1994, New York Times’ film critic, Janet Maslin reviewed the Killer’s Kiss. He described how naturalistic Kubrick’s style was. Despite the limitations, he was able to produce a fantastic sound mix for the entire movie. The film was also notable for its on location shots in the Pennsylvania Station (also known as Penn Station). It was the major commuter hub in New York and one of the busiest stations in the world before it was demolished in 1963. A year later, 1956, the film was followed by The Killing. Three years after, in 1959, Kubrick won the Best Director Award in the Locarno International Film Festival.

The film, in a nutshell, is about a 29-year old welterweight boxer from New York named Davy Gordon, who, at the end of his boxing career, got involved in a love affair turned tragedy. His relationship with thebeautiful dancer, Gloria Price, caused him to face a lot of trouble when the lady’s employer, Vincent (played by Frank Silvera) tried to harass her. Eventually they leave that mess behind, together.

This film was funded by Kubrick’s family, more appropriately, borrowed money from his uncle. He was the writer, producer, and director of this film. The film didn’t make it big but it was part of Kubrick’s introduction to a long cinematic career in Hollywood.

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