Killer's Kiss (1955)

Killer's Kiss (1955), written, produced, photographed, edited and directed by Stanley Kubrick.

I am only a modest fan of Kubrick, but the early talent he displays here is very impressive. At age 26 the tone and composition of his little shoestring film, only 67 minutes long, is heads and shoulders above many studio pictures of the period. The elegance of his designs is apparent here near the very beginning of his career, starting with the film titles.

It's a simple tale, like a short story from pulp fiction. A boxer and a dance hall girl get mixed up with gangsters. We still have time for stories within stories told with flashbacks. Who do you trust, and what would you do to survive?

It builds to a running and fighting segment culminating in a surreal battle among the naked mannikins in a warehouse. It's funny and brutal at the same time: the bad guy has an axe.

Lush classical score. Real NY street locations. The exciting boxing segment is finely photographed, much more realistic than many others. No natural sound at all.

The studio insisted on the improbably happy ending. The point of film noir is "we're screwed" but maybe that doesn't sell tickets.

Available on Criterion Blu-ray on the same disc as The Killing (1956),