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The Naked Kiss(1964)
Kelly 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 and becomes a pediatric nurse 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, the town's philanthropist and most eligible bachelor, but a sinister secret he's hiding mars their chance for a happy ending, as she learns the true price of going straight.
For more about The Naked Kiss and The Naked Kiss Blu-ray release, see The Naked Kiss Blu-ray Review
Starring: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Virginia Grey, Patsy Kelly, Betty Bronson
Director: Samuel Fuller
» See full cast & crew
The Naked Kiss Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 13, 2011
Samuel Fuller's "The Naked Kiss" (1964) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc contain an interview with actress Constance Towers; collection of excerpts from an episode of The South Bank Show; collection of excerpts from an episode of the French television program Cineastes de notre temps; short segment from the French television program Cinema cinemas; and the film's original theatrical trailer. The disc also arrives with a 24-page illustrated booklet. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
(Note: Please be advised that our review contains minor spoilers).
The main protagonist in Samuel Fuller's The Naked Kiss is a beautiful prostitute named Kelly (Constance Towers, Shock Corridor), who arrives in the town of Grantville looking to settle down. Before she rents a room in a seemingly quiet neighborhood, she beds Griff (Anthony Eisley, One Way Wahini), the local sheriff, who pays her with a 20$ bill. Griff asks for change but does not get any.
Eventually, Kelly gets a job in the local hospital as a nurse. The job does not pay much but it is an honest one. In the hospital, she befriends Buff (Marie Devereux, The Mark), who has approached Candy (Virginia Grey, All That Heaven Allows), the local brothel's keeper, about becoming a bonbon girl (obviously, Candy's girls sell a lot more than bonbons). When Kelly learns that Candy has given Buff an advance, she goes to the brothel and warns her to stay away from her friend - and then stuffs the money in Candy's mouth.
Kelly also befriends J.L. Grant (Michael Dante, Arizona Raiders), the town's wealthy bachelor, who soon discovers that she is everything he ever wanted. Eventually, Grant asks Kelly to marry him. After she agrees, he also asks his best friend, Griff, to be the best man at the wedding.
Assuming that Kelly wants to marry Grant for his money, Griff visits the hospital and tells her to leave the town as soon as possible; if she refuses he will reveal to Grant and the rest of her new friends that she is a retired prostitute. Much to his surprise, however, Kelly informs him that Grant already knows about her past and is perfectly fine with it. Shocked and seriously upset, Griff walks away.
Convinced that her life is finally on the right track, Kelly overflows with enthusiasm for her future. Her plan has worked out perfectly and she could not be happier. Then, one day, she goes back to Grant's house and sees him playing a very strange game with a little girl.
If Samuel Fuller was still alive today, he would have probably attempted to shoot a film about the dark side of the American dream and the corrosive effects of success. He would have effectively exposed the hypocrisy behind the former and showed how the latter negatively impacts our ability to be good, or simply be ourselves. His The Naked Kiss does something quite similar - it takes off the veil of a small, prosperous and tranquil American town and then shows how rotten and irreversibly damaged everything in it is.
Naturally, with the exception of Kelly, the rest of the protagonists in The Naked Kiss are hypocrites. They have all done things that they are not proud of and are leading double lives. Some also have strange obsessions, while others have dark secrets that make them vulnerable.
Yet The Naked Kiss is a not a serious social drama. It is most certainly not a nihilistic film denouncing life either. On the contrary, it is an enthusiastic, celebrating life film, which simply approached its subject matter with a degree of honesty other American films at the time were lacking.
The Naked Kiss is filled with hilarious and insightful one-liners, Fuller's specialty, many of which have become legendary, and complimented by a light but very effective music score courtesy of Paul Dunlap. Cinematographer Stanley Cortez's lensing is intense and moody.
The Naked Kiss Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Samuel Fuller's The Naked Kiss arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm fine-grain master positive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, drain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisor: Maria Palazzola.
Telecine colorist: Gregg Garvin/Modern Videofilm, Los Angeles."
This is a good high-definition transfer, though slightly softer looking than I expected it to be. Generally speaking, fine object detail is good and clarity pleasing. The close-ups convey good depth, while the few panoramic scenes are well detailed. Contrast levels also appear relatively stable. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issue of concern, but some small traces occasionally are easy to spot. Various noise corrections appear to have been applied, and a few of the outdoor scenes look rather soft. Variations of light grain, however, are present throughout the entire film. There are also a couple of frame overlappings (28:42/28:49) but no serious stability issues to report in this review. Lastly, some inherited small scratches and flecks are also easy to spot. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Naked Kiss Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the optical track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was atenuated using Audio Cube's integrated audio workstation."
I don't have any reservations about the English LPCM 1.0 track - the dialog is clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. Its dynamic amplitude is quite limited but the audio has pleasing organic qualities. There are no balance issues with Paul Dunlap's music score. Lastly, I did not detect any annoying pops, cracks, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
The Naked Kiss Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Naked Kiss Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Samuel Fuller's The Naked Kiss is a raw yet at the same time notably elegant film. It is also a shockingly honest film, which is why it will likely rub a lot of people the wrong way. As expected, Criterion have put a good package for it. Let's hope that eventually Pickup on South Street will also make it to Blu-ray. RECOMMENDED.
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