Blu-ray Review: KISS OF DEATH (1947)

KISS OF DEATH was directed by Henry Hathaway, written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer, and stars Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray, Richard Widmark, Karl Malden, Taylor Holmes, and Mildred Dunnock. The score is by David Buttolph.

An icon of film noir, Kiss of Death (1947) tells the tale of a petty crook-turned-stool pigeon (Victor Mature) who, in his attempt to go straight, finds himself stalked by a psycho killer, the notorious Tommy Udo. One of cinema’s most frightening villains, Udo is incarnated in a startling début performance by the one and only Richard Widmark, whose career was launched here under the guiding hand of veteran director Henry Hathaway. Shot in documentary style on location in New York City, the film also features a striking score by David Buttolph.

This 1947 noir-classic follows Nick Bianco who goes to jail and is asked to snitch on a few of his fellow crooks. He refuses at first until a family tragedy strikes and he’s left to make some tough decisons so he squeals. As part of the bargain Bianco is set free but the justice system is flawed and doesn’t put away Tommy Udo like he was promised so he knows that he’s going to have problems with the psycho. Bianco not only fears for his life but his family’s safety as well when he finds out that Udo is still a free man. He decides to take matters in his own hands and decides to confront the psychopathic criminal on his own turf. This leads to a showdown between the two and even though Bianco knows he’s got a target on him, he has a plan to take down Udo red handed and it ultimately works.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Kiss of Death by Julie Kirgo and some alternate artwork. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were really good conidering the age of the film. There’s a little grain and some hissing at times but that can be expected and it’s not a problem with the viewing experience at all.

Bottom line is, Kiss of Death ended up being another fantastic first time watch for me and I really enjoyed it. The movie itself is a slow burn noir-thriller that follows this small-time crook who gets a second chance and will do anything to protect the ones he loves. Even take a few bullets! The movie features two strong performances by Victor Mature who plays sort of the anti-hero of the story and Richard Widmark who steals the show as his nemesis. Widmark’s portrayal as Tommy Udo will remind cinebuffs of iconic movie characters from movies like Scarface and even a certain giggling maniac from Batman. It’s that evil laugh and sleazy mannerisms! Director Henry Hathaway did a really good job capturing these stellar performances and telling this story and putting it all on screen. The Blu-ray is now available in a Limited Edition of 3,000 Units from Twilight Time and is definitely worth a watch.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 99 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High Definition (1.33:1) B&W / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 / English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: This Blu-ray includes Twilight Time’s trademark isolated track, two commentaries and the theatrical trailer. You can see the full list below.

  • Isolated Music Track
  • Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
  • Audio Commentary with Film Historians James Ursini and Alain Silver
  • Original Theatrical Trailer




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