USA Today - 06/14/1991
"...A nervy cheapie....Individual scenes excite..."
Sight and Sound - 10/01/2002
"...There's plenty to relish here..."
A.V. Club - 08/24/2011
"[A] prime example of how a clever, creative soul can make a lot out of a little."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Stanley Kubrick's second feature film, Killer's Kiss, made the world take notice. The young moviemaker won acclaim for this dazzling film noir about a struggling New York boxer (Jamie Smith) whose life is imperiled when he protects a nightclub dancer (Irene Kane) from her gangster boss (Frank Silvera). "Using his camera as a sandpaper block, Kubrick has stripped away the veneer from the prizefight and dancehall worlds," the New York Mirror proclaimed.
Killer's Kiss not only lends considerable insight into future Kubrick classics - such as The Killing and Full Metal Jacket - but is also a remarkable film in its own right: the boxing match may be the most vicious this side of Raging Bull, and the famed final battle remains an action tour-de-force. "An ambitious photographer...challenges the movie capital with Killer's Kiss," the New York Daily Times enthused. "The suspenseful venture augurs well for young Stanley Kubrick!"
KILLER'S KISS, Stanley Kubrick's second feature-length film (though barely more than an hour), tells the story of a down-and-out boxer who falls for a comely female neighbor, leading to kidnapping and murder. Davey Gordon has seemingly fought his last fight after being pummeled by Kid Rodriguez in the first round. Gloria Price is the hard-luck dame whose window faces Davey's. A dancer at Pleasureland, Gloria is trying to break up with her boss, Vincent Rapallo, but he would rather see her dead before allowing her to be with another man. So when Davey and Gloria start a steamy romance, it isn't long before murder enters the picture.
Somewhat similar to his 1951 boxing documentary, DAY OF THE FIGHT, Kubrick's gritty black-and-white film noir, told in flashbacks, was shot on location in the streets of New York, effectively capturing the dark underbelly of the city at night. The camera rarely rises above Kubrick's waist, and the low-angle and ground shots give the film a menacing look. Kubrick believed that a film, like a symphony, must be created by a single individual, so he served as writer, director, editor, and producer on the project. The result is a small picture that provides a fascinating look into the early work of a man who would soon become one of the world's most important and influential filmmakers.
Stanley Kubrick's second feature film tells the story of a struggling New York boxer who gets in trouble with gangsters when he protects a nightclub dancer.
Filmed in New York City (Times Square, Greenwich Village, Penn Station, and the Garment District).
Estimated budget: $40,000. Kubrick spent another $35,000 in postproduction costs.
Ruth Sobotka became Kubrick's second wife in January 1955; she served as art director and production designer on the film and also played the ballerina.
Kubrick felt that the film was a "frivolous effort done with conceivably more expertise though still down in the student level of filmmaking."
Producer Morris Bousel was a pharmacist--and Kubrick's uncle, who put up much of the money.
The love theme from the song "Once" was written by Norman Gimbel and Arden Clar.
David Vaughan, who played one of the conventioneers, was also the choreographer.
Kubrick was only 26 when he made the film, shot near his New York City apartment. "I wanted to film the smell, the feel and color of the city," he said.
To film the alley scene Kubrick had to negotiate with five men who lived there and would not vacate for the shooting. In another scene Irene Kane had to agree to have a drink with a truck driver so he would move his truck out of the way.
Kubrick took four months to edit the film, adding very detailed sound effects and redubbing the dialogue. Peggy Lobbin had to dub in Kane's voice because Kane was not available to dub in her own voice.
Kubrick used the film negative, instead of the developed film, to enhance the eerie look of the dream sequence.
KILLER'S KISS features a Kubrick trademark--voice-over narration; of all his films, only DR. STRANGELOVE, THE SHINING, and EYES WIDE SHUT do not feature any kind of narration.
The actual words on the letter Davey reads on the subway do not match what the voice-over says--Davey's uncle is supposedly reading the letter to the viewer. Working titles for the story included THE NYMPH AND THE MANIAC and KISS ME, KILL ME.
The shoot lasted about three months. The film was shot in virtual silence because of the excess noise on the New York City streets.