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Naked Kiss, The (Criterion)

Constance Towers , Anthony Eisley , Samuel Fuller    Unrated   DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Until Sam Fuller came along, movies in the 1960s were still bound by Hollywood's self-imposed and often hypocritical rules of discretion. The crimes and misdemeanors of lurid pulp fiction remained on drugstore spin-racks and newsstands, diluted on screen until Fuller, with his cigar-chomping audacity and confrontational style, liberated movies from artificial restraint and kicked them into the meaner, darker, but more honest maturity of the post-Kennedy era. Shock Corridor announced Fuller's brazen agenda a year earlier, but The Naked Kiss is even more astonishing because its trashy, provocative plot dares to find depth and humanity beneath the hardened shells of corrupted souls.

The film begins like no other before it: Kelly (Constance Towers) beats her pimp with a handbag, grabs the cash he owes her, adjusts her telltale wig and makeup, and sets out to begin life anew, free from the shame of prostitution. Two years later she's in Grantville, a typically Rockwellian slice of Americana, working wonders with disabled kids and gaining distance from her miserable past. She's even engaged to the town's most respected citizen, but dark clouds are gathering: a corrupt cop knows Kelly's hidden secrets; a nearby brothel taints the community; and a pedophile is lurking in the shadows. Through it all, Fuller calibrates The Naked Kiss with such precision that sentiment and sordidness can run parallel without colliding, shifting from outrageous vice to shameless tear-jerking with equal facility. With twisted tricks up his sleeve, Fuller can be accused of tabloid tackiness, but that would be missing the point: In Fuller's cruel and ugly world, compassion still finds a way to survive. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

The setup is pure pulp: A former prostitute (a crackerjack Constance Towers) relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society. But in the strange, hallucinatory territory of writer-director-producer Samuel Fuller (Shock Corridor, The Big Red One), perverse secrets inevitably simmer beneath a seemingly wholesome surface. Featuring radical visual touches, full-throttle performances, brilliant cinematography by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter), and one bizarrely beautiful musical number, The Naked Kiss is among Fuller’s greatest, boldest entertainments.


Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars DON'T MAKE KELLY MAD..... Oct. 19 2002
Format:DVD
Sensational 60's b&w shocker from Sam Fuller about a hooker named Kelly who, as we see in the opening, has a nasty temper. Her "tout" shaved her head bald while she was passed out and she beats the hell out of him with her clutch bag! She splits and becomes a traveling hooker. (Well, I guess it beats peddling Mary Kaye.) She winds up in a very small town and her first customer is the local cop. Coming to like the small town life, she rents a room from a sweet old lady who has her own sad story and decides to go straight. But the cop is nervous about having Kelly around so he sends her across the river to a whorehouse run by Candy who takes a liking to her and offers her a job as one of her "Bon-Bons". But Kelly nixes the offer and goes back to the small town and gets a job as a nurse's aide in the crippled children's wing of the local hospital. There she finds what she's been looking for---purpose. Kelly is really a good person. But she has to make one more trip across the river to Candy's. She beats the hell out of Candy (with that trusty clutch bag again) for trying to recruit a down-on-her-luck co-worker at the hospital. She then stuffs the money Candy had given the girl right in Candy's mouth. Then things really begin to happen. A rich guy who's the "pillar" of the community wants to marry her and Kelly thinks she's met her Prince Charming until she catches him molesting a little girl! That nasty temper flares again and she shoots him. Of course this isn't the end but I can't say any more. The serpentine story never stops. The acting is first rate and the cast is perfect for each of their individual roles. Especially Constance Towers as Kelly and Virginia Grey as Candy. The two have memorable confrontations. As Kelly sits in jail for murder, Candy is called in to give a statement. She does. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Full Range of the Human Experience July 8 2002
Format:DVD
THE NAKED KISS opens with such a shocking, lurid and erotic scene of a prostitute violently beating her pimp, seen blow by blow from his point of view, that the viewer is immediately jolted and gripped by these images and is mesmerized. Director, Samuel Fuller hooks you and he doesn't let go. The statuesque Constance Towers is the prostitute named Kelly and eventually she arrives at a new town where she ultimately decides to start a new life that leads to her working with disabled children. Certain aspects of her past experiences lead her to conclusions that are unspeakable about the "normal" society that she has now established herself in. This is truly a remarkable film because director- writer Fuller takes the viewer to avenues of unexpected emotional response both subtle and outlandish touching raw nerves along the way leaving one disconcerted and devastated. The chiaroscuro cinematography by Stanley Cortez shooting the light and dark elements of Constance Towers face and figure within each frame lends to the off beat and sensational visual expression of this torn figure of a woman. Towers and Cortez both complete Fuller's vision of a hard world speckled with fleeting moments of sentimentality and an ever-elusive sentimentality.
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4.0 out of 5 stars As Good As Low Budget Gets! May 2 2002
Format:DVD
This is an important film to me because it made me realize a major difference between truly American directors, and the European expatriates like Hitchcock, Wilder, David Lean, that mainstream Americans remember from this same period. I believe at their core American film directors want to preach; though, "preach" is a pejorative word for it. And directors either went at the system head-on -- e.g., Welles and Kubrick -- and were then forced out of the US, or they worked below the radar: and Fuller is the most outspoken American director that tried to stay under the radar (though even he was eventually forced from our land of free speech in order to finance his films -- alas, free speech is anything BUT free, if you want anyone to hear you anyway). I could write a thesis on both of the paradoxes mentioned above, but it would bore you.
I think "The Naked Kiss" was meant more as an entertainment than "Shock Corridor", but it sure as [heck] ain't a film for average Joe and Jane Q. American where the freedom to say what you mean and mean what you say is edited and re-edited in order to meet a democratic, social, money-paying group. I do think if you have aspirations to make films it's an important film to understand. Fuller's sense of humor, irreverence, and yet heart are quintessentially American. Any American artist (filmmaker, writer, architect, etc.) you've ever heard of usually has these qualities, and there are few other places where they are more naked than in "The Naked Kiss."
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5.0 out of 5 stars CRIPPLED SOULS April 23 1999
Format:DVD
Produced, written and directed by Samuel Fuller, THE NAKED KISS is a little jewel. Constance Towers, in a " à la Gena Rowlands " role, gives a performance you won't forget easily. A great thanks then to Criterion which allows us to rediscover this wonderful movie.
Samuel Fuller, from his 1940 debut in Hollywood until his last movies in France, deserves to be considered as one of the great american directors of the last fifty years. He mainly visited the western, war movies and film noir genres and gave us such masterpieces as FORTY GUNS, SHOCK CORRIDOR and UNDERWORLD, U.S.A. With no big stars but with a style of its own. Raw, violent and provocative, for the eyes and also for the intellect.
THE NAKED KISS is a movie destined to shock the audience. An emotionally ultra-violent first scene prepares us to a journey through Cinderella Land and the Garden of Evil. Samuel Fuller won't let anybody unharm. The Charming Prince, the Hooker with a heart big as the world, the Cop blasé : everybody will suffer in front of Fuller's camera.
It's the third time I watch THE NAKED KISS, the first time on DVD, and I like it even more now. Its atmosphere is one of the strangest you can find on film. Remember Charles Laughton's NIGHT OF THE HUNTER ? One can feel a bit of this dreamy atmosphere in Fuller's movie. The child song Constance Towers sings with the handicapped children will give you the chill.
Image is great, a few white spots now and then coming from a non-perfect copy. The sound is good but you'll have to turn your volume control. Scene access and theatrical trailer as bonus features.
A DVD for your library.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The double moral
Fuller gave us a ravishing work. plenty of kinetic energy, without anu pause, directly he engages the viewer, around a prostitute who refuses making that job, and to establish in... Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
3.0 out of 5 stars Whatever you were expecting....
doesn't prepare you for the musical number halfway through the picture. Jarring is perhaps the best description. Just roll with it and enjoy the denouement.
Published on June 2 2004 by C. P. Manor
3.0 out of 5 stars an interesting and unusual film
This review is for the Criterion Collection edition
In this film a former prostitute who moves to a small town to try and get on with her life. Read more
Published on March 23 2004 by Ted
2.0 out of 5 stars So bad its...bad.
Don't get me wrong; I like trash. But this manages to be both very dull and very over the top at the same time. Read more
Published on March 15 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Film - An Awful, Insulting Print And Transfer
This is one of the great, cult, Fuller films. Notable for its trashy blend of noir fatalism, stereotypical American settings and characters, and subversive anti establishment... Read more
Published on June 15 2002 by APC Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A one-two punch from a pro!
Veteran director Samuel Fuller clearly pushed the envelope with this raw, uncomprising look at the life of a prostitute who wants out. Read more
Published on April 15 2002 by Marc T. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark doings in small-town America
Beyond the "exploitation movie" premise and several admittedly effective "shock" scenes, this movie delivers a pretty good story about a prostitute moving to a... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2002 by Joseph P. Menta, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars I HATE BRIAN DEPALMA
Fuller's best film. Well acted and brutally honest. A cop out ending can't even spoil this fine, fine film. By the way did I mention I hate Brian Depalma...Oliver Stone too. Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2001 by BRIAN W. BRODY
4.0 out of 5 stars Child molestation in 1964?
That right there makes this a rare find! Quite risque for its time. Very daring, and yet refreshing. Read more
Published on June 25 2001 by "time-traveller"
5.0 out of 5 stars A smack-your-pimp-with-the-phone classic!
This film is amazing. Sam Fuller continues a series of films that make him cinema's wild man director. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2000 by "skipmccoy"
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