Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 26th, 2016
BluRay released: May 3rd, 2016
Approximate running time: 94 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
A Kiss Before Dying was directed by Gerd Oswald whose other notable films include, Crime of Passion and Screaming Mimi. Key collaborators on A Kiss Before Dying include, screenwriter Lawrence Roman (Vice Squad), cinematographer Lucien Ballard (The Killing, The Wild Bunch) and composer Lionel Newman (Kiss of Death, Nightmare Alley). The screenplay for A Kiss Before Dying was adapted from author Ira Levin’s novel of the same name. Other Ira Levin books that have been made into films include, Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil.
Content wise, this film owes just as much to film noir genre as it does to post noir thrillers that rose to prominence by mid-1960’s. And nowhere its film noir’s influence over this film more evident then when it comes to its protagonist Bud Corliss. He is a character that is cut from the same mold that black widow and femme fatales were cut from. With the main difference being gender, since the overwhelming amount of those type of characters in noir films where female.
Visually is the one area where this new kind of thriller differs from the aforementioned the film noir genre. With the shift from black & white to color and from academy ratio to widescreen being to prime examples. Another Significant change when it comes to the post noir thrillers is that it is not so much about who the guilty party is, but why the reasons behind their actions have now become the focal point.
Every great thriller starts with a strong premise which is ultimately backed up by meticulously constructed plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. And in this regards A Kiss before Dying does a superb job setting up who everyone is and what their motivations are? Also there are just enough moments of misdirection along the way and each of these moments are given just right amount of time to resonate.
From a production stand point the one area of this film that is most inconsistent are its visuals. They come off as something one would expect from a melodrama, not a thriller. With that being said this film’s standout moment visually is the scene where Bud Corliss throws his pregnant finance Dorothy Kingship over the ledge of building and to her death.
Performance wise the cast are very good in their perspective roles. With this film’s standout performance coming from Robert Wagner (The Pink Panther) in the role of Bud Corliss. Cast against type Wagner delivers a solid performance that easily ranks amongst his best performances. Other notable cast members include, Joanne Woodward (The Three Faces of Eve) in the role of Dorothy Kingship, Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon) in the role of Bud Corliss’s mother and Jeffrey Hunter (Sergeant Rutledge) in the role of Gordon Grant, a friend of deceased girl and it is through his persistence investigating that the truth is ultimately uncovered.
A Kiss Before Dying comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The sources used for this transfer is a marked improvement over previous home video releases. The image looks crisp, colors look accurate, black levels and shadow detail look very good throughout. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression or DNR and prints related debris is minimal.
This release comes with a one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. There are no issues with background noise or hiss and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things sound rather limited at times and dialog always comes through clearly.
Extras for this release are limited a trailer for the film (2 minutes 17 seconds). Overall A Kiss Before Dying gets a strong release from Kino Lorber.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber on DVD.