Friday, February 15, 2008

The Naked Kiss

A former prostitute goes to a small town to redeem herself from her past and encounters a town of people who seem innocent on the outside but harbor some serious dysfunctional traits. Such is this great and sometimes campy film by Sam Fuller, The Naked Kiss from 1964. This was Fuller's follow up to Shock Corridor. There's a scene where the lead character Kelly (played by Constance Towers) gets off the bus and the local movie theatre marquee is showing Shock Corridor. The second she is off the bus, offering her wares (in this case bottles of Angel Foam champagne) she runs into the head of the local police, played by Anthony Eisley (he of television and Al Adamson's Frankenstein Vs. Dracula). There are episodes showing Kelly becoming a nurse because she can't children of her own. She's done turning tricks but when she refuses to go to the local brothel when Eisley's character orders her there, she sets off an avalanche of events that culminates with her being arrested and charged for murder.
  This was an unconventional film for the period. It begins with Kelly beating the shit out of her pimp and removing her wig, exposing her bald pate. 
There are flashbacks, unsettling imagery of children in peril, and more bitch slapping than was available that year in all the films made. It is a brutal, campy, beautiful and sometimes corny but all the while brilliant film. Kelly is a strong character that refuses to return to her previous life and doesn't put up with anyone's shit. 
Double crossed, jailed but eventually redeemed, she leaves town at the end, looking for hope in her new destiny.

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