The Art of Cinema #151


Killer's Kiss
(Stanley Kubrick; 1955)

4 comments:

SomeNYGuy said...

Great poster, stupendous copy line, but (and I admit it's been years since I've seen the film) none of the figures seem to me to resemble the actual actors!

Irene Kane (better known as the journalist Chris Chase) was a cool, willowy blonde. Jamie Smith's head didn't resemble The Elephant Man's. And the artist seems to have substituted Joe Silver for Frank Silvera.

There's also a perfectly awful little movie called STRANGERS KISS that's a fictionalized retelling of the making of KILLER'S KISS, recommended only to Kubrick ephemera completists and committed masochists.

Tom Sutpen said...

It's possible that whomever came up with the poster was working from nothing more than the title and a rough outline of the plot; which is a lot more info than some poster artists were given. Hell, over at American-International they would often come up with the poster first, then make the film roughly in accordance with it (not the worst strategy I've ever heard tell of).

Stranger's Kiss is barely even worth mentioning were it not for the film's fictionalized depiction of Stanley Kubrick and James B. Harris. Something tells me the filmmakers were informed not so much by the true dynamics of their partnership, but by a kind of cinephilic re-imagining of it, where Harris is portrayed as little more than a callow stooge along for the ride while Peter Coyote's Kubrick manque is writ large as Stanley Sensational.

There's something marginally disgraceful about this.

I always thought it one of the minor tragedies of film that Kubrick didn't make more films on the streets of New York. Were it not for his proto-Nouvelle vague cinematography I don't know that there'd be a lot to recommend Killer's Kiss

SomeNYGuy said...

Can't buy your theory, Tom -- surely KILLER'S KISS was a UA pick-up of a completed (or nearly completed) film. If there was no time or opportunity to screen it for the advertising agency, at least there would be some production stills. As much as I like the overall layout of the poster, I'd say it's more likely this was a case of carelessness or apathy. (I guess I should mention that I'm a veteran of decades in the movie ad biz and worked on ad materials for many films that had yet to be shot or that were in very early stages of production.)

And STRANGERS KISS has no apostrophe in the title. I had the misfortune of working on the campaign for its initial U.S. release.

Much of the charm of KILLER'S KISS lies in the fact that it was made at all and the peculiar circumstances of its creation -- the story STRANGERS KISS botches into dullness. My own guess is that Chapman made it in the hope it would prompt Kubrick to meet him, or at least sue him.

swac said...

Peter Coyote as Kubrick?

Gah.