A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

DailyView: Day 150, Movie 228

On the 150th day of the DailyView, we travel back to the mid-`950s for a noir/thriller starring Robert Wagner and Joanne Woodward.

Manipulative and ambitious, University student Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) was dating fellow student Dorothy Kingship (Joanne Woodward) in order to get closer to her wealthy father, Leo Kingship (George Macready) and his mining business. However, when Dorothy announced to him that she was pregnant out of wedlock, Corliss was afraid that she would be disinherited and he would miss out on the opportunity to get what he wanted.

He planned to murder Dorothy and make it look like a suicide. When his first attempt failed, he manipulated her to the roof of a building and shoved her off.

Though the police were convinced of her suicide (thanks to a note that Corliss had sent to her sister), Dorothy’s sister Ellen (Virginia Leith) was not convinced. She began to investigate the supposed suicide on her own and she believed she had found a potential suspect. Corliss followed her and arranged things to make it look like the suspects she had found was, in fact, the killer, who he shot and made look as if the man had killed himself.

Soon afterwards, Corliss ingrained himself into Ellen’s life, still looking to get involved in her father’s mining business.

This was a solid thriller with a lead villain that was seemed to be several steps ahead of everybody else. Robert Wagner played the slimy creep to perfection. Every move he made was designed to show what a letch this character was.

The third act reveal was excellent, with Ellen taking a step to become more of a character than she had been before. She was not just another fool to buy into his BS. Virginia Leith is strong in these moments when she was finding out the truth, harkening back to the strong woman she was prior to meeting Corliss.

Well written and acted, A Kiss Before Dying works on all levels and provides us with a protagonist that is not someone to root for.

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