Killer's Kiss (1955) was Stanley Kubrick's second feature film. Kubrick wrote, directed, produced, filmed, and edited. (He later left Hollywood for the U.K. so he could have more control of his pictures than any major studio would give him.) It's a small-budget film noir story of a down-on-his-luck boxer (played by Jamie Smith) who runs in to play knight-in-shining-armor to his blonde neighbor with the always-open window shade (Irene Kane) and ends up in trouble with gangsters.

(extreme subjectivity alert!!!)The film's probably most distinctive for the simultaneous descriptors of "Kubrick's" and, well, "not that great."* Kubrick himself later called it "pretentious and amateurish." The acting's abysmal (even if they do have interesting faces, the shots of which are occasionally incredible), and the story's clich├ęd. However, if you're a poor Kubrick-obsessed semi-film geek like me, it's interesting enough to sit through (only 67 minutes long) and probably worth the couple bucks to rent it just to watch for the small glimpses of a future genius. (He definitely already had his style, if not in any well-developed form. The near-surreal showdown in a manikin factory makes up for a lot. And even if they don't really seem to belong, I liked some of the montage sequences better than the movie itself -- they feel like pieces of possibly older footage that Kubrick went around New York City collecting as he fell in love with the camera and couldn't quite bear to throw away. It's like seeing quick galleries of interesting, living photographs.) Recommended immediate follow-up is Paths of Glory (1957) -- watch Kubrick blossom, gain great hope for what you might be capable of in just two years.

IMDB quotes the tagline as "Her Soft Mouth Was the Road to Sin-Smeared Violence!" This amuses me.

* I checked all the reviews I could find online. The ones not selling something mostly range from "interesting" to "this stinks." It's not just me!

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