A Kiss Before Dying (1956) - Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery

Hohum Score

9

Engaging

A ruthless college student resorts to murder in an attempt to marry an heiress.

IMDB: 6.7
Director: Gerd Oswald
Stars: Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter
Length: 94 Minutes
PG Rating: N/A
Reviews: 7 out of 69 found boring (10.14%)

One-line Reviews (60)

It starts with perky titles promising a silly romantic comedy, then has a long dialogue scene between Bob and Joanne all in one take, a tumble by a pregnant woman that *doesn't* result in a miscarriage (surely a movie first), and indescribably odd moments like a sixtyish woman in a see-through blouse sashaying through an intense dialogue scene that pauses to honor her passing, and a postal clerk whose delicate cough serves as a Pinteresque interruption to an otherwise inconsequential line.

Perhaps she's too intelligent-looking to be believable as the sweet, dull mom.

Unfortunately, the tricky plot gets a little too contrived for comfort before the plot is resolved and all the pieces fit.

It doesn't quite succeed, but is nonetheless worth watching at least once, especially for viewers who like dark, brooding, twist-laden thrillers.

'A Kiss Before Dying' starts out promisingly enough, what with its attractive, talented leads, its intriguing premise and the added allure of the indecent, amoral plot line (what a stir this must've made in 1956!

I found this very gripping.

Tension mounts as the pieces to the puzzle begin to fall into place leading to an exciting conclusion.

A Super-Suspenseful Re-Working of an Unfilmable Novel .

Still, the film remains suspenseful throughout and concludes most satisfactorily.

Added to that,we also see a lot of unevenness in the plot as it was slow at some parts of the story.

Anyway, that's the setup for what turns out to be in essence a poor man's "A Place in the Sun" (1951), but nevertheless a film that remains quite entertaining in its own right.

The good points about the film are the plot, which is gripping even though it's been shortened markedly from the book, and some of the acting, particularly Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward -- and I also enjoyed George Macready as the father of Dorie and Ellen.

Someone above has mentioned the scene where Bud and Dorie are having an intense conversation when suddenly a middle-aged woman in a completely see-through blouse with a great big bra underneath walks between them and halts the conversation; she has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, and when it happened I literally burst out laughing at the incongruousness of it.

And what a gripping piece of morbid psychopathology is Wagner's slip-sliding through the chemistry lab as he prepares a toxic.

The 1950s produced more handsomely bland actors than any other decade and if I liked Robert Wagner in this film it might be due to the fact that he gets to play a killer.

A little predictable, but enjoyable.

This suspenseful and lavishly produced film is a cross between a melodrama and horror, as you're taken on a ride, you can't get off until the end and leaves you wondering, was it all worth it?

But despite the inadequacy of the cast and a formulaic script, Oswald gives the film real zip and Lucien Ballard's widescreen cinematography gives it the look of a film noir in colour and ensures it is never less than handsome on the eye.

I'm glad I didn't, because it was very enjoyable, and just as soapy and dramatic as I'd expected.

It is not a 1950s college comedy, but a relentless thriller with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

Dorothy Kingship (Joanne Woodward), a girl with whom he is having a secret relationship with, may be the only glimmer of hope that will lift him up out of his bland, disappointing life.

As the film begins he is learning of the unexpected pregnancy of his girlfriend Dorothy (Joanne Woodward).

The girlfriend who gets it is Joanne Woodward and she's bland and uninteresting.

In fact, one could point at the ridiculous Police procedures and personnel (contrived to a part-time Nephew "on the case").

Oswald does a wonderful job directing, and while the story is slow moving at first, it worked well to allow us to really study Wagner's character, the depths of his roguish villainy, and also to set up Woodward's character for a spectacularly shocking demise (don't watch the trailer prior to watching the film, as it will spoil this).

Remade clumsily as a Matt Dillon thriller in 1991, this really is the better version completely because of the great looking cast (incl Joanne Woodward and Mary Astor) and the immensely enjoyable Cinemascope 50s set design and art direction.

That one is a TOTAL waste of time!

The film's conclusion, however, is predictable and just a tad melodramatic.

Corliss is intense, crafty and full of guile and at the same time lacks any sincerity, passion or spontaneity.

Surprsingly entertaining .

Suspenseful waiting to see who gets murdered next.

enjoyable '50s fare .

Peculiar but entertaining mixture .

But what makes this movie entertaining?

Kiss Before Dying, A (1956) *** (out of 4) Flawed but suspenseful thriller has Robert Wagner playing a fortune hunter who will stop at nothing to marry into a rich family.

What actually happened, though, was my having to endure a drawn-out, slightly confusing, tiresome film that just smacks of 'struggling to be Hitchcock' while never managing to achieve the tension, drama or self-importance necessary to be a memorable film.

If the ending is contrived and highly improbable, at least the incremental steps by which doubt invades Ellen's awareness are cleverly done.

A little predictable, but I enjoyed it.

I wanted to applaud, but then it occurred to me -- unless -- unless -- is Gerd Oswald such a newbie, such a clumsy and innocent tyro, that he's unaware of the cliché and just hasn't THOUGHT of it?

But one senses that here the exposition would have benefited from shorter cutting, as the earnest Ellen and nice-but-dull Grant are not a very dynamic couple when alone on screen.

Overall this is an enjoyable film that works thanks to strength in several areas.

As others have noticed, there are certain intriguing similarities between A Kiss Before Dying and the plot of Psycho which came four years later: both films begin with furtive discussion of lovers discussing the implications of illicit sex, go on to feature the premature demise of a blonde and then, in a second half, the investigation of mystery by a determined female relative.

A Good Entertaining 50's Movie .

The film presents us a situation that was a classic dilemma for the times in which it was filmed: an unexpected pregnancy.

Rarely have I seen such an ugly, rotten-to-the-core being hidden by such a handsome and absorbing façade, except maybe in the Omen films (especially the last one with Sam Neill).

It is Ellen's and Mr. Kingship's quick verbal barbs that were supposed to increase the tension, further the plot and reveal motives - but they truly only bore and annoy.

Since I do not advocate murder under any circumstance, this is a stunning combination of writing and directing.

There are echoes of Vertigo (1958) too in the dangerous heights of City Hall where Budd finally commits his heinous crime, and more than a taste of Hitchcock in some of the of the suspenseful machinations of the plot - most especially in the chemistry supply room scene where Corliss furtively steals his poisons, or during the tense roof scene.

Seeing Wagner as a psychopath back in 1956 had that same kind of stunning non-narrative shock for viewers, especially since we know he's the bad guy almost from the opening frame.

Beyond all of this, though, the storyline remains relatively uninteresting, and the means by which the characters endeavor to solve the various crimes themselves is dangerous, nonsensical, and truly stupid.

Robert Wagner gives a startlingly compelling performance as the killer (he is identified right from the start) and receives outstanding support from the lovely Virginia Leith.

Though Virginia Leith is a bit bland as Dorie's inquisitive sister, Joanne Woodward shines as Corliss' doomed girlfriend.

So predictable !

The manner in which Bud is visually revealed as Ellen's new boyfriend and the way in which Dorie's murder is depicted, are just two further highlights of this interesting and absorbing melodrama.

Suspenseful, worth a watch .

The other Actors are placed throughout as so many Pawns, void of much personality and as boring as Hell.

Hunter is solid if uninspiring and the support cast are pretty much the same.

An excellent gripping suspense with a nice soundtrack.

Wagner's relationship with his mother (Astor) presents some intriguing possibilities that are only hinted at and largely forgotten later in the picture.

Although Lionel Newman's score and his title song (lyrics by Carroll Coates, sung by Dolores Hawkins) have been criticized, I found both very suspenseful.