When you say film noir you generally think of dark shadowy black and white movies featuring criminals and other lowlifes fighting to get ahead. The term film noir is actually a moniker placed on a large group of films made from the 1940s to the 1950s. And while the majority of movies considered to be film noir are in black and white, there are a few that were shot in colour. Today’s Sunday Matinee is the 1956 A Kiss Before Dying.
Robert Wagner stars as a young man trying to achieve wealth by getting involved with the daughter (Joanne Woodward) of a wealthy business man (George Macready). There’s only one snag in his plan. Woodward ends up pregnant forcing Wagner to take drastic measures to ensue that he stays on his path to wealth.
Wagner kills the poor girl and then makes it look like a suicide. Woodward’s family didn’t realize that she was seeing Wagner so he starts seeing Woodward’s sister (Virginia Leith) so he can still marry into money. Things go fine for Wagner until Leith starts to suspect that her sister’s death wasn’t suicide.
This is a great movie which is based an a book by Ira Levin (The Boys from Brazil, Rosemary’s Baby). Stylish and thrilling the movie was shot in colour and in widescreen Cinemascope and looks impressive. Wagner is excellent as the psycho trying to find wealth the easy way. In some ways the movie’s plot is a little similar to Hitchcock’s Psycho which came four years later. Kino is releasing it on Blu-ray this week which looks excellent picture and sound wise but sadly no extras. There was a really crappy remake in the 1990s that should be avoiding at all costs.