The setup is pure pulp: A former prostitute (a crackerjack Constance Towers) relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society. But in the strange, hallucinatory territory of writer-director-producer Samuel Fuller, perverse secrets inevitably simmer beneath a seemingly wholesome surface. Featuring radical visual touches, full-throttle performances, brilliant cinematography by Stanley Cortez, and one bizarrely beautiful musical number, The Naked Kiss is among Fuller’s greatest, boldest entertainments. —The Criterion Collection
Noted for his tabloid-influenced storytelling style, breathless camera work, and extreme close-ups, Fuller was a pugnacious, tough-as-nails man whose movies reflect a uniquely personal vision; obsessed with themes of falsehood and deception, his films illuminated the cultural divisions at the heart of American society, depicting a grim, immoral world far removed from the placid surface typically on display in more mainstream fare. Celebrated as a genius by his fans, and denounced as a sensationalist by his detractors, Fuller was a deeply patriotic man quick to criticize his country’s flaws, as well as a raw, anarchic filmmaker capable of moments of inexpressible beauty; such contradictions fueled and ultimately defined both him and his body of work, which continues to exert tremendous influence over such prominent filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch. Samuel Michael Fuller was born August 12, 1912, in Worcester, MA, and raised in New York City; at the age… read more
With the opening scene just bursting out of the frame and attacking the audience right at the start (reminding me of the opening scene from the silent masterpiece Ménilmontant), The Naked Kiss grabs your attention and won't let go. With traces of Sirk's melodrama and the pulpy noir atmosphere, Fuller tells a dark and sinister tale, moving between cynicism and unabashed sentimentality. Gutsy work, highly recommended!
Fuller's twisted masterpiece tackles the dark underside of suburbia and the taboo subjects of prostitution and paedophilia in a startling and frank manner. Towers is a revelation as the hooker desperate to change her lifestyle after uprooting to a small town but never really being able to shake off her past. And to think that Fuller made this in the same year that Mary Poppins was spooning out the sugar. Remarkable..
Also: Artificial Paradises, Turn Me On, Dammit!, Philip Kaufman, Cindy Sherman and more.
Here it is, my first foray into Samuel Fuller’s world of pulp, The Naked Kiss. I still don’t quite know what my feelings are. When the ending credits rolled, I was a bit indifferent, but after a heady… read review