Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 2nd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1947
Director: Henry Hathaway
Writers: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, Eleazar Lipsky, Philip Dunne
Cast: Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray, Richard Widmark, Taylor Holmes, Howard Smith, Karl Malden, Anthony Ross
BluRay released: February 14th, 2017
Approximate running times: 99 Minutes
Aspect Ratios: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Twilight Time
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: When a diamond heist goes wrong a small-time crook named Nick Bianco is given the chance to reduce his sentence if he snitches on the other three men who got away. Not wanting to be a stool pigeon Nick is sent away to prison. And while he is serving his time he receives word that his wife has killed herself. Not wanting his children to have to grow up without both of their parents. He has a change of heart and agrees to work with the district attorney to help bring a psychopath gangster named Tommy Udo to justice.
Kiss of Death was directed by Henry Hathaway who’s other notable films include, Call Northside 777, Niagara, The Sons of Katie Elder and Nevada Smith. Key collaborators on Kiss of Death include, screenwriters Ben Hecht (Howard Hawks Scarface, Spellbound) and Charles Lederer (His Girl Friday, The Thing from Another World), cinematographer Norbert Brodine (Of Mice and Men, Thieves’ Highway) and composer David Buttolph (Tobacco Road).
Though this film has many of the ingredients which have since become synonymous with the Film Noir genre. There are a few ways in which goes against the norm, most notably its use of a female voice as the film’s narrator. Another area where this film differs from more traditional Film Noir’s is its use of lightning, which goes for a natural look that is more in line with Italian cinema’s Neorealism film movement.
The premise for this film is well executed and this film does a superb job keeping the viewer in the dark when it comes to where this film will go next. The characters are well defined and their motivations are never in doubt. And where other crime themed films almost always made a clear distinction between the good and bad guys. It is the criminals in this film who ultimately exude the most sympathy.
From a production stand point, there is not an area where this film does not excel. With its aforementioned visuals being one of its most durable assets. Standout moments visually include, the film’s opening bank heist and the thieves subsequent escape. And when discussing this film no scene is more ingrained in viewers minds, then the scene where this film’s villain Tommy Udo throws a wheel-chaired bound woman down a flight of stairs.
Performance wise the cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s most memorable performance being Richard Widmark (Don’t Bother to Knock, Night and the City) in the role of Tommy Udo. He delivers an iconic performance that is arguably one of the best debut performances in the history of cinema. Another standout performance includes, Victor Mature (My Darling Clementine, Cry of the City) in the role of Nick Bianco. Other notable cast members include, Brian Donlevy (Hangmen Also Die!, The Glass Key) in the role of assistant D.A. Louis D’Angelo, Karl Malden (One-Eyed Jacks, The Cat O’ Nine Tails) in the role of Sgt. William Cullen and Coleen Gray (Nightmare Alley, Red River) in the role of Nettie, the nanny who fails in love with her former boss Nick Bianco.
Kiss of Death comes on a 50 GB dual layer (25.9 GB) BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. Details look crisp, black and contrast levels remain solid throughout. Grain looks healthy and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 20 seconds), an option to view the Twilight Time catalog, an eight-page booklet with an essay about the film written by Julie Kirgo, an option to listen to a Isolated music track and two audio commentaries – the first audio commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman and the second audio commentary with Film Historians James Ursini and Alain Silver.
Topics discussed in the audio commentaries include, how the film being narrated by a woman is a rarity for the Film Noir genre, locations featured in the film, the screenplay, the cast and information about them, Henry Hathaway and information about other films he directed, cinematographer Norbert Brodine and the look of the film, Darryl F. Zanuck and his comments about the film, 20th Century Fox and how their Film Noir’s differed from the other Hollywood studios, composer David Buttolph and the score, key moments and their thoughts about the film.
Overall Kiss of Death gets an exceptional release from Twilight Time, highly recommended.
Note: This Blu-Ray release is a limited-edition release of 3,000 copies.