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STANLEY KUBRICK'S FILM NOIR BOXING FABLE OF 'KILLER'S KISS'

Lobby Card for Killer's Kiss YEAR OF RELEASE: 1956
When it's not a primal, jazz piano, mamba-like rhythm as gangster/dance club owner Frank Silvera tries keeping his trophy girl from being romanced by someone truly deserving, the deepest, more soulful orchestration is very reminiscent of (years later) THE GODFATHER score...

Despite director Stanley Kubrick referring to KILLER'S KISS as a student film, his rudimentary Noir is a beautiful, intentionally-simplistic tale with the auteur's metronomic, haunting rhythm intact. Harboring such a flowing, naturally offbeat groove throughout, it's hard to fathom that, at this point, with only an even more low-budget (and unreleased) movie under his belt, he already possessed a vibe and structure all his own, which would then fully establish itself in, a year later, the multi-structured Noir, THE KILLING, and then his signature style would be cemented with the anti-war courtroom drama masterpiece, PATHS OF GLORY...

Jamie Smith in Killer's Kiss
In KILLER'S KISS, the performances are very good as opposed to really great, especially Silvera, whose underline threat is palpable over sleek and slender ingenue Irene Kane (dubbed by another actress) as she's equally vulnerable to our leading man, who can be deemed "Burt Lancaster Light," Jamie Smith, a boxer who's lost his edge, and in the Kubrick canon overlooked and underrated (much like John Getz in the Coen brothers' BLOOD SIMPLE). Though in most cases lead roles and/or buried leads are often the least intriguing, and usually ultimately thankless...

Killer's Kiss's included in this DVD
Yet KISS is 90% the artist's canvas, ignited from Kubrick's sense of still life photography into a flowing dreamlike aura liken to a fable: of bleak B&W aesthetic where New York City seems more windblown, hollow and vacant than its usual cinematic hustle/bustle — a drowsy aftermath effect on the melancholy senses for both the characters and the audience, especially during trash-blown daylight hours before venturing into dire, shadowy alleyways...

Killer Score: ****
Yet it's not all so noticeably cultivated: A foot chase climax winds things up inside an eerie mannequin shop, making one painfully overlong narrated sequence involving a ballerina the only real flaw in a low-budget, independent, labor-of-love Film Noir so limited in scope, structure and storyline it hardly lacks what's necessary had it been an intentionally fulfilling motion picture to begin with: Think more of a proverbial storybook rather than the meticulous novel approach that was soon to come for the auteur, hence making Stanley Kubrick an iconic art-house-hold name. Like RESERVOIR DOGS allowed Quentin Tarantino to kickstart a groundbreaking career, KILLER'S KISS opened doors that gave Kubrick a real shot — to score!
One scene that stands out given the artistic photographic background of director Stanley Kubrick
Like Rocky Balboa later on, this boxer spends meantime watching his aquatic beasties pass their own meantime
Last dance of the film's only fight that he lost, the audience telling "Loser, you're finished!"
A very artistic if somewhat obvious way of saying that the fight and our fighter means little to the scheme of things
Jamie Smith and Irene Kane in Stanley Kubrick's KILLER'S KISS
Jamie Smith on Naked City: A Hole In The City with Robert Duvall
Jamie Smith on Naked City: A Hole In The City with Robert Duvall
Jamie Smith like a "mouse in a box" on Naked City circa 1961

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