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A Kiss Before Dying


Price: $19.81 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Virginia Leith, Joanne Woodward, Mary Astor
  • Directors: Gerd Oswald
  • Writers: Ira Levin, Lawrence Roman
  • Producers: Robert L. Jacks
  • Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, Widescreen, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 3, 2002
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006L92X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,919 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Kiss Before Dying" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Robert Wagner gambled with his clean-cut image to play the ruthless, conniving killer in this unrelenting thriller co-starring Jeffrey Hunter, Virginia Leith, Joanne Woodward and Mary Astor. Based onthe novel by suspense master Ira Levin ( Deathtrap ), A Kiss Before Dying is riveting, sure-fire entertainment you can't miss! Wagner is Bud Corliss, a darkly handsome college boy so obsessedwith wealth that he'll do anything to get it. When his rich girlfriend Dorothy (Woodward) gets pregnant and is threatened with disinheritance, Bud stages her suicide, sending her plummeting from the roof of a high-rise. It's the perfect crime until Dorothy's sister Ellen (Leith) begins to unravel Bud's deadly scheme.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By cookieman108 on January 11, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I always thought Robert Wagner deserved a better film career than he got, as he's an excellent actor and did a number of movies, including All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960), and The Longest Day (1962), before transitioning to television in the late 60's working on shows like It Takes A Thief and his signature role as Jonathan Hart of the Hart to Hart series. Remember, back in the day it was looked as a major step down to go from films to television, a similar, contemporary comparison being that of working in theatrical releases and then finding yourself in direct to video market hell (Lou Diamond Phillips) or voice-overs for video games (Ray Liotta). Work is work, I suppose, and A Kiss Before Dying (1956) is certainly one of Wagner's finer film roles, in my opinion.

Based on a novel by Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives), A Kiss Before Dying was directed by Gerd Oswald, one of the more prominent directors in the early days of television, working on such shows as Rawhide, Bonanza, The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, and Star Trek, to name a few. The film stars, as I mentioned before, a very young Robert Wagner, Joanne Woodward, her next being The Three Faces of Eve (1957), Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon), Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers), George Macready (The Big Clock), and Virginia Leith, who saw her career bottom out six years later in the seminal sci-fi schlocker The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962). Also appearing is Robert Quarry, who would later achieve a cult-like following for his starring role in Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) and its' follow up, The Return of Count Yorga (1971).

The film opens on a young couple in a small room, the woman weeping softly on the bed, and the man looking as if to console her.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lee Hartsfeld on January 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"A Kiss Before Dying" is an outstanding thriller with Hitchcock-level suspense courtesy of Gerd Oswald, a director much better known for his TV work on "The Outer Limits" and "Star Trek." Robert Wagner is excellent as a sociopathic killer who carries out the perfect crime but is done in by his own ambition and cleverness. The whole thing could have become ridiculous very easily, owing to certain gaps in story logic, but the dead-serious tone, the fast pacing and editing, and the high artistry of all involved make this a classic, if unusually elegant, piece of film noir.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 13, 2005
Format: DVD
This movie is a vivid reminder of the type of Baroque psychodrama/thriller Hollywood produced with great relish in the 1950's, and now it has been released on DVD. At the forefront back then was German-born filmmaker Douglas Sirk, whose turgid Technicolor melodramas ("Magnificent Obsession", "Imitation of Life" among others) served as inspiration for Todd Haynes' recent critical hit, "Far From Heaven", with Julianne Moore. Another contributor to this genre was director Gerd Oswald, who filmed an early Ira Levin book (his later works include "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives") in 1956 and manages to capture all the lurid elements and Freudian pop sensibilities that make this good fun to watch.

A very young and dapper Robert Wagner plays a very cool and collected psychopath named Budd Corliss, who impregnates his naive girlfriend, Dorothy, played by an ingenuous Joanne Woodward in only her second film. That accident virtually guarantees her disinheritance from her wealthy, taciturn father, and so Budd spends the first half of the story plotting her murder ensuring her death will look like a suicide. The story telegraphs the inevitable event for quite a while, and the scenes that lead to it are tensely effective culminating in a camera-savvy push from a rooftop that is visually stunning. Similar to Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (and predating that classic by four years), the story shifts perspective to her sister Ellen and a detective who try to put the pieces together to figure out who murdered Dorothy. The twists in this part of the film include a tennis pro who is too helpful to Ellen for his own good, and Ellen herself, ignorant of Budd's previous relationship with Dorothy, begins an affair with Budd. Contrived? You bet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By kacunnin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2011
Format: DVD
`A Kiss Before Dying' (1956) is a passable adaptation of Ira Levin's novel (his first, coming years before `Rosemary's Baby' and `Stepford Wives'). The story involves callous gold-digger Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) who makes the unfortunate mistake of knocking up his heiress girlfriend Dorie Kingship (Joanne Woodward, in her first credited role) before he can meet her father and solidify his piece of the family fortune. Bud's plans for Dorie reveal him as more than a little bit sociopathic, but ultimately his inability to get the Kingship money out of his mind proves his undoing.

The first half of the film is better than its concluding scenes - both Wagner and Woodward are fine as would-be college sweethearts, and the initial murder scene is both creepy and believable. Later scenes and characters are not - including Virginia Leith (who seems oddly stiff and detached as Dorie's sister Ellen), Jeffrey Hunter (who's unconvincing as part-time police investigator Gordon Grant), George Macready (who plays patriarch Leo Kingship as a one-dimensional autocrat), and a ridiculous mid-film murder (with the victim literally sitting at his desk, begging pitifully, while the murderer debates which side of his head would be best for the bullet). The film was billed as a "noir" murder mystery, but its bright color pallet and zippy score make it seem too upbeat for that genre.

For those who have read the novel, this adaptation cuts out the third Kingship sister, which is a shame (since that also means we miss one of the novel's more interesting murders, as well as its final twist). More of a problem, however, is the lack of the background information on Bud Corliss provided in the novel - including his childhood, relationship with his mother, and his growing obsession with Kingship Copper.
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