The Naked Kiss

Director: Samuel Fuller
Screenwriters: Samuel Fuller

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


A woman as the central character in a film noir, a genre that usually depicts females as the hero's downfall if it acknowledges them at all? Who is daring enough to attempt such a feat? Iconoclastic director Sam Fuller, of course.

Fuller is known as the king of the Bs—inexpensive movies designed to play on double bills at neighborhood theatres. During his 50-year career he made about 40 films, many of them in the crime genre, personalizing them with his distinct visual style and decidedly dark vision, which was shaped by his years as a crime reporter and soldier.

The Naked Kiss, made midway through his career, layers an eclectic array of elements, ranging from musical numbers to fantasy sequences, over its film noir structure. Its heroine, Kelly (Constance Towers), is a feminist who takes on the causes of abused women and disabled children. Originally a prostitute, she flees from the city to a small town where she reforms after she looks in the mirror and sees "nothing but the buck, the bed, and the bottle for the rest of my life." She falls in love with Grant (Michael Dante), the town's philanthropist and most eligible bachelor, but a sinister secret he's hiding mars their chance for a happy ending and sends the film in a darker direction. The Naked Kiss prefigures David Lynch's Blue Velvet in exposing the seaminess and corruption that often underlie a small town's simple, sunny surface.

This print was remastered from the original picture and sound-track negative in 1999 in a cooperative effort between UCLA and Warner Brothers.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

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