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Kiss of Death (Fox Film Noir)

Victor Mature , Brian Donlevy , Henry Hathaway    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Kiss of Death (Fox Film Noir) + The Street with No Name (Fox Film Noir) + Where the Sidewalk Ends (Fox Film Noir)
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Richard Widmark's bravura debut as snickering gangster Tommy Udo, and particularly his infamous encounter with an old woman in a wheelchair, enjoys such pop cachet that the movie itself has been somewhat underrated. More's the pity. Henry Hathaway's third entry in 20th Century–Fox's series of post–WWII thrillers is just about the best of the bunch. These films incorporated the semidocumentary techniques and wondrously persuasive on-location shooting Hollywood learned from Italian neorealism and the wartime filming of some of its own best directors. Kiss of Death is more fictional than documentary in thrust, with a solid script by ace screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer. But that only makes its imaginative, atmospheric use of real places and spaces--e.g., a superb opening robbery sequence in a New York skyscraper--the more remarkable.

Victor Mature belies his rep as one of the Hollywood star system's bad jokes with his intense performance as Nick Bianco, a career criminal driven to turn squealer. Nick's motivation is family values: although he had gone to Sing Sing (yes, they filmed there, too) as a stand-up guy, "the boys" failed to take care of his wife and daughters as promised, with devastating results. Despite the best efforts of an assistant D.A. (Brian Donlevy), Nick is forced to lay everything on the line to rescue his family's future. The movie abounds in evocative texture, thanks to the no-frills excellence of Norbert Brodine's camerawork and an exemplary supporting cast including Millard Mitchell (as a sardonic police detective), Karl Malden (another D.A.), and Taylor Holmes (a flannel-mouthed Mob shyster). Kiss of Death was remade twice, as a Western titled The Fiend That Walked the West and as a straight thriller again in the '90s. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

Henry Hathaway's directorial skills brought a heightened sense of realism to crime dramas in this classic 1947 original that marked Richard Widmark's Oscar -nominated debut. When a small time crook (Victor Mature) gets a twenty year sentence for robbery, he refuses to reveal his accomplices, even after a D.A. (Brian Donlevy) offers to help him. But he changes his mind once he learns that his wife has committed suicide and a psychopath (Widmark) has threatened his children.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Suspense-filled postwar film noir Sept. 13 1999
Format:VHS Tape
3 1/2 stars. This is one of a number of on-location thrillers (House on 92nd Street, Dark Corner, Boomerang, Call Northside 777) made by Twentieth Century Fox after World War II. In this case too, on location filming and a razor-sharp script produced a first-rate suspenser. Mature showed his mettle as a good actor, and Widmark in his debut played a skull-faced ,giggling, almost moronic psycopathic hood with such glee that he still remains in the memory of many film buffs. The whole movie was so well done that one wonders if the 1995 remake was really necessary.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nick Bianco- True Noir Protagonist June 8 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Henry Hathaway's 1947 noir drama Kiss of Death is one of the first films to deal with the subject of criminal informing. An informer, commonly referred among criminals as a squealer, stoolie, rat, or pigeon is often trapped in an earthy purgatory. Shunned by the underworld and suspectly viewed by law enforcement, an informer's life becomes shrouded in self doubt concerning the principles of right and wrong. In Kiss of Death, Nick Bianco's ( Victor Mature) decision to turn informer against a demented, murdering gangster named Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark) is justified by his duty as a father to provide security for his two young daughters. When Nick Bianco's testimony fails to convict Udo, Bianco's safe environment becomes disrupted and threatened by the violence that was once part of his criminal past. Widmark making his screen debut as the cackling Udo is memorable with shaven eyebrows,intimidating drawl, and dark gangster suits. Mature's performance is first rate as the ex-hood who showers his new wife (Coleen Gray ) and children with the bliss of blue collar euphoria. Hathaway's New York filming locations add to the realism of Bianco's plight. Legendary Sing Sing prison in Ossining, "The Tombs" prison cells in NYC, St. Nicholas Boxing Arena in the Bronx, and the gray streets of Greenpoint Brooklyn provide ample imagery to the noir motif. Hathaway deftly and subtlely escorts Udo and Bianco into a private bordello. Most viewers are not aware that the double entry doors manned by the tall, dark figure is a whorehouse. ( Bianco- "What's that smell?" Udo- "Perfume"-camera fades out). The one major flaw is Coleen Gray's fairy tale voice over ending. After being shot at close range, four times with a 45. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Tommy Udo May 19 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The Sylvester Stallone of his time, Victor Mature was regarded as little more than a joke until his fine performance in the crime drama "Kiss of Death." Unfortunately for Mature, a New York stage actor was making his film debut in the Henry Hathaway directed thriller, and "Kiss of Death" remains famous for having introduced Richard Widmark to film audiences. As the giggling, psychopathic Tommy Udo (is there a true film buff anywhere in the world unfamiliar with that name?), Widmark would create a character much imitated in the years that followed, though still not surpassed for cruelty. It is in this film that Widmark pushes an old lady tied into her wheelchair down a flight of stairs, maniacally cackling as she makes her way to the bottom. The scene is still quite chilling, and there isn't a moment nearly as memorable in the adequate 1995 remake with Nicolas Cage and David Caruso taking over for Widmark and Mature. The rest of this original "Kiss of Death" holds up pretty well, too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars What A Film Debut! April 1 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Kiss of Death is a crime thriller that kept me more involved then I was expecting. Perhaps it's the fact that the Victor Mature character is pretty sympathetic. Mature (a better actor than he was given credit for) plays the internal conflicts of his character with a lot of conviction. The location filming and the straightforward direction help to add a lot of realism to the film. The supporting cast, with the exception of Colleen Gray, contribute good performances. But it's Richard Widmark, in his film debut, that leaves the strongest impression. His giggling, psychopathic killer Tommy Udo is one of the most memorable characters you'll ever see, and the wheelchair scene is justifiably famous. Kiss of Death is a gripping crime drama.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
20th Century Fox presents "KISS OF DEATH" (1947) (98 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- A gritty tale of deceit and manipulation filmed with an almost documentary-style realism, this hard-edged noir thriller stars Victor Mature as a gangster who takes the rap for a jewelery-store heist to protect his wife and children --- But when his friends on the outside fail to honor their promise, he turns the tables on the mob and works with the FBI to incriminate the men who helped put him away --- Richard Widmark debuts as the evil mobster with the manic laugh.

Noir doesn't get any better than this classic film --- Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Widmark) & Best Original Story.

Under the production staff of:
Henry Hathaway [Director]
Ben Hecht [ Screenwriter]
Charles Lederer [Screenwriter]
Eleazar Lipsky [Story]
Fred Kohlmar [Producer]
David Buttolph [Original Film Score]
Norbert Brodine [Cinematographer]
J. Watson Webb Jr.[Film Editor]

1. Henry Hathaway [aka: Marquis Henri Leonard de Fiennes] - [Director]
Date of Birth: 13 March 1898 - Sacramento, California
Date of Death: 11 February 1985 - Hollywood, California

2. Victor Mature [aka: Victor John Mature]
Date of Birth: 29 January 1913 - Louisville, Kentucky
Date of Death: 4 August 1999 - Rancho Santa Fe, California

3. Brian Donlevy [aka: Waldo Brian Donlevy]
Date of Birth: 9 February 1901 - Cleveland, Ohio
Date of Death: 5 April 1972 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California

4. Richard Widmark [aka: Richard Weedt Widmark]
Date of Birth: 26 December 1914 - Sunrise Township, Minnesota
Date of Death: 24 March 2008 - Roxbury, Connecticut

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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great story love victor
Published 13 days ago by Brenda Di
5.0 out of 5 stars Nick Bianco vs. Tommy Udo
It was a nice December day in Dark City (in this movie, Dark City takes the name of New York City). "Christmas is a happy time - for the lucky ones," we are informed via... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2004 by Alice Rhys
4.0 out of 5 stars Henry Hathaway
Henry Hathaway,s fine drama with something extra. Real New York locations are seen in this film..... Read more
Published on March 18 2000 by charles pope
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid classic
This great piece of cinema has lost none of its punch in more than 50 years. Even more starkly photographed than most "film noir. Read more
Published on March 15 2000 by Lee J. Stamm
5.0 out of 5 stars For a new comer to the movies Widmark is great quite chillin
Most review the movie about the same Wheelchair cruel etc.You can't help but love him in the part and will not forget him. Read more
Published on Oct. 2 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth your time if you love classic suspense!
Classic dress, classic dialogue, class actors! You can't go wrong if you want classic suspense! KISS OF DEATH is a great piece for Vic Mature & anyone who loves his look... Read more
Published on Sept. 10 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Kiss!
Henry Hathaways film still packs a punch. Widmark,s debut as Tommy Udo, Matures turn as Nick Bianco, look for Taylor Holmes as a crooked lawyer, Brain Donlevy as the Asst. D.A. Read more
Published on Aug. 19 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lost Art!
Take your 50-100 Million Hollywood budget today, 2/3 of it in promotional costs, and just try and equal the gut-wrenching suspense of this little black and white post-war classic! Read more
Published on May 28 1999
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