Noir City Hollywood, the Home Game: KISS OF DEATH

Serious question: How the fuck have I not written up KISS OF DEATH before this?

I’ve seen it a dozen times or more, and I could have sworn that I already covered it for Noir City. Apparently not, but hey, I’m always up for a rewatch. Strap in, Faustketeers, because this flick will push you down the stairs and make you like it.

After a jewel heist goes bad, hard luck Girl Dad Victor Mature turns reluctant stool pigeon for the D.A. so he can spring his two daughters from an orphanage. He’s also desperate to fuck, ahem, I mean marry, the kids’ toothache-sweet barely-legal babysitter Coleen Gray. Which is admittedly a bit creepy by today’s standards but you can forget all of that because what I really want to talk about is Tommy Udo.

Noir City favorite Richard Widmark got a Best Supporting Actor nod for his debut role as the sadistic, sniggering psychopath who ties an old lady to her wheelchair and tosses her down the stairs. He’s a hyena in a fedora, deadly and mesmerizing, dominating every frame he’s in with this uniquely unpredictable and unsettling charisma. Gangster Peter Pan meets the Joker. Big Incel Energy.

In fact, the character was so popular that various fraternities started clubs in his honor dedicated to “putting women in their places.” A stark contrast to the real Widmark, who was by all accounts a kind-hearted, gentle guy who abhorred violence and was a passionate advocate for gun control.

Now, a quickfire list of Very Significant Shit that popped into my head on this last rewatch.

I forgot it was a Christmas movie.

Also, even though I didn’t love Coleen Gray’s goody goodgirl character, I dig a female voice over.

There’s a bondage/struggle scene.

You’re welcome, perverts.

Udo gets all the best lines, like “I wouldn’t give you the skin off a grape,” and ”Dames are no good if you wanna have some fun.”

Why yes, everything still has to be gay, thanks for asking! (Just you wait until we hit DESERT FURY.)

I think this flick may be neck and neck with I WAKE UP SCREAMING for best performance by Victor Mature’s hat. Ok, second best after the fez in SHANGHAI GESTURE.

Anyway, for these triple features I’ve decided to bump the matinee out to be its own post and will follow up with the evening double feature a little later in the day. So stay tuned for a Railroad Noir double header with CAIRO STATION and UNION STATION!

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