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Naked Kiss, The (Criterion)
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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.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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."
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on June 8 2004 by Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela
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
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
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 morePublished on March 15 2004
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 morePublished on June 15 2002 by APC Reviews
Veteran director Samuel Fuller clearly pushed the envelope with this raw, uncomprising look at the life of a prostitute who wants out. Read morePublished on April 15 2002 by Marc T. Smith
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 morePublished on Jan. 4 2002 by Joseph P. Menta, Jr.
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 morePublished on Sept. 21 2001 by BRIAN W. BRODY
That right there makes this a rare find! Quite risque for its time. Very daring, and yet refreshing. Read morePublished on June 25 2001