Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948)

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948), directed by Norman Foster.

American GI Burt Lancaster had a bad war and he is having a bad peace in London after the war. When pushed he punches and that will kill an ordinary person. On the run, he forces nurse Joan Fontaine to hide him. Oddly enough, she doesn't turn him in. Maybe because she lost her own soldier in the war.

The screenplay has a great symmetry of design: he gradually moves out of his PTSD toward her world -- although never relaxing -- but she is pulled into his world of crime and violence. They meet in the middle. At least they are together.

The overly lurid title -- from the book -- is terribly false advertising for what is a noirish romance with a crime background. This perhaps has kept it from an audience that would enjoy it. I would have ended it differently and stuck with a "we're doomed" plot, but under the Code criminals had to either die or turn themselves in. We tack on that ending in the last minute.

Lancaster and Fontaine both have the amazing ability to draw our attention without letting us see how they do it. It is a craft I will never understand. His intense physicality is always an asset in this sort of picture.

Robert Newton provides extra color as a jolly criminal with an unfunny hold over our lovers.

Music by Miklós Rózsa and photography by Russell Metty, a powerhouse pair. Metty goes deeply black in the shadows here, an amazing treatment for a crime romance.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino with a commentary track by Jeremy Arnold. He says the film has not been well known because of the poor editions available on home video. This Blu-ray solves that.