A Kiss Before Dying (1956) 720p

Movie Poster
A Kiss Before Dying (1956) bluray - Movie Poster
Crime | Film-Noir
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
94 min
IMDB Rating:
6.7 / 10 
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Directors: Gerd Oswald [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Student Bud Corliss is wooing Dorother Kingship purely for her father's mining fortune. When he finds she is pregnant he realises she is likely to be disinherited, so cleverly stages her suicide. After a couple of months her sister back home finds evidence to question the suicide verdict, but by then has a new boyfriend of her own...


  • A Kiss Before Dying (1956) bluray - Movie Scene 1
  • A Kiss Before Dying (1956) bluray - Movie Scene 2
  • A Kiss Before Dying (1956) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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A Good Entertaining 50's Movie

Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Virginia Leith and Joanne Woodward stars in this 1956 movie entitled,"A Kiss Before Dying". This film based on the novel of the same title by Ira Levin.

It tells the story of College pretty boy and playboy Bud Corliss who intends to marry a heiress that belongs to the Kingship family. At first,he got involved with Dorothy Kingship.But when she got pregnant and learned that Dorothy would be disenfranchised,Bud killed her. Then he got involved with Ellen Kingship,who happens to be Dorothy's sister. But Ellen tried to solve her sister's death as she felt that it wasn't suicide as the police determined. Will this derail Bud's objective?

Viewing this movie,one can definitely see that it has aged a lot after it has been released 64 years ago as this review is being written.Added to that,it had the feeling of being dated as well. The production setting is obviously a testament to that.Added to that,we also see a lot of unevenness in the plot as it was slow at some parts of the story. The tension is definitely lacking as we already know from the start that Bud is up to no good.

But what makes this movie entertaining?First,we get to see the good performances from the cast especially Robert Wager,who played Bud.He portrayed the character with a lot of irony as we get to see a highly educated and intelligent college student who is actually a killer. Added to that,we also see a great colored film especially during its time of release when many other films are still released in black-and-white. Finally,we also get to see an interesting story. No wonder it was remade in 1991 with Matt Dillon and Sean Young starring in it. But comparing the two,I would consider this film a lot better than the 1991 remake.

Solid Classic Thriller

Well worth a watch if you like a good classic thriller. A little slow in places and unconvincing in some parts, but overall it is stylish and very watchable.

It kicks off on a taboo note for the time with pre-marital pregnancy, and the immorality goes down fast from there.

Another unusual element (for the time) is the sociopathy of the central character, played with chilling believability by Robert Wagner.

The cinematography is lush, but I found the music disconcerting. The jaunty theme tune and romantic strings when the killer is having his twisted way does not convey the underlying menace of the plot - is this some post-modern joke or was the director just tone deaf?

Overall, worth a watch, if you enjoy a good 1950s thriller.

The Kingship That Never Comes In

According to Alicia Malone, the beautiful and intelligent host at tcm, "A Kiss Before Dying" is considered by Joanne Woodward to be not only her worst picture but the worst picture ever made by Hollywood. Oh c'mon, Joanne, considering some of the turkeys that I have seen with you and your late husband, Paul Newman, you can't possibly be serious. Don't get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to a living, and it's nice work if you can get it. At any rate, considering that Dore is supposed to be a bit of a whining nebbish, Joanne plays the part quite well.

I couldn't help from comparing this story, originating from Ira Levin's novel, to that of Theodore Dreiser's "An American Tragedy" which was adapted to the silver screen as "A Place in the Sun". While Levin's and Dreiser's stories both center on the very determined ambitions of two young men from very modest, if not impoverished, backgrounds, the big difference is that George Eastman (Montgomery Clift) in "Place in the Sun" does not deliberately kill the woman he impregnates. He only WANTS to kill her in the worst way and then does nothing to help her when she, herself, manages to overturn their rowboat on Loon Lake. This significantly distinguishes Eastman from Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner), who, to me, is far less sympathetic and far more depraved than George. The scenes at the closed marriage license offices in both films are also very similar.

The entire cast is excellent, and I would argue that this is among Mr. Wagner's best roles as an unlikely psychopathic murderer. Noteworthy is his brief scene with Mary Astor when he scolds her, his mother, for her wardrobe choice moments before he introduces her to his wealthy girlfriend's family. This one scene defines his character and gives us an important glimpse of at least some of the circumstances behind his motivation. Are the short haircuts of both Mom and Dore a mere coincidence, or is there much more lurking behind that similarity? Mary Astor, an outstanding actor, has always contributed greatly to all of the movies in which I have seen her, including "Act of Violence", "Dodsworth", and "The Maltese Falcon", only a few that immediately come to mind. George Macready, including his distinctively resonant voice, is another seasoned professional whose appearance is a very welcome bonus here. I thought that Virginia Lieth acts very decently, and she looks beautiful, so I don't know why I have never seen her in any other film.

The technicolor photography of cinematographer Lucien Ballard on location in and around Tucson, Arizona, including the campus of the University of Arizona, is exceptional. There is a noticeable crispness to it as it captures the unique architecture and natural surroundings of 1956 Tucson, days that only survive as they are archived by films such as this. Note the copper colored Thunderbird that Dore Kingship drives as well as the corded telephone and the swimming pool ladders of the same color. Someone had a barrel of fun making this picture.

As is the case with any film, there are some peculiar instances, including the reluctance of Dwight Powell at least to attempt to fight for his life. And where is the truck driver at the end? I expected him to appear immediately at the scene instead of hiding in his cab until the police arrive. And does Bud actually push Ellen out of the path of danger, as I believe he does? Also, if Bud's service during the Korean War is a factor behind his behavior, this should have been developed more as it should have but wasn't in the case of George Loomis (Joseph Cotton) in "Niagara", another favorite of mine from the same era.
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