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The Vault: Killer's Kiss (1955)

Those only familiar with the broad strokes of Kubrick's career might be surprised to learn that he started off working in film noir. Very early in his career, Kubrick was already igniting the screen with his trademark blend of amazing cinematography, plots steeped with moral grey areas, and iconic imagery. The first such example of this is his 1955 outing Killer's Kiss.

Film noir, and especially neo-noir is too often waist-deep in its own tropes to be enjoyable. Bogged down by the baggage that the genre forces, many films suffer from being too predictable. The most notable film noir is the work that departs from the strictest confines of the genre. Genius that he was, Kubrick never confined himself to predetermined casts of what a film should be, and Killer's Kiss was no different.

Essentially a marriage of the boxing film and the noir, Killer's Kiss documents the love a washed up boxer has for his neighbour, and the consequences of his being asked to throw a fight by a local mob boss. Both plot lines are clearly in the domain of Kubrick's career long theme of moral relativism.

While not on par with Doctor Strangelove, 2001, Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket or The Shining, Killer's Kiss does provide some memorable scenes, particularly during the climactic chase and fight. Fans of any genre should be able to enjoy this film; it's not the most exciting movie on the shelf, but it has a broad range of merits and historical significance.


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