Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 23
The Naked Kiss October 29, 1964
The Naked Kiss opens

A prostitute thrashes the drunken pimp who has stiffed her. As they fight, he reaches up and grabs her hair — and winds up with a fistful of her wig. The bald hooker, Kelly, beats him into unconsciousness with her shoe, rifles through his wallet for the money she’s owed, and splits. It’s one of the most audacious opening scenes in movie history, and it’s the start of Samuel Fuller’s pulp melodrama masterpiece, The Naked Kiss, which opened October 29, 1964. After that bravura opener, Kelly is driven out of town by the pimp, landing in a small town where she tries to go straight by working at a children’s hospital. She falls in love with a local businessman and plans for marriage... until she discovers he’s a child molester, kills him, and then must prove her righteousness to the disbelieving townsfolk. Wrote Adrian Reeves at Senses of Cinema, “The Naked Kiss has the trademark Fullerisms, including plot holes you could fall into, chunks of exposition delivered as dialogue (try that in a screenwriting class and see how far you get), heavy-handed metonymy and a penchant for delivering key points as visual ‘headlines.’ Fuller’s recurring motifs are obvious and yet rather than being corny there is something strangely satisfying about them.” Indeed, The Naked Kiss endures because of that opening, its surreal interludes with the crippled children at Kelly’s hospital, and for the way it forces the audience to upend their traditional morality. In The Naked Kiss, Fuller’s 17th film, the violent prostitute is the hero and the town scion the depraved villain.” Wrote Reeves, “Fuller could condemn and praise at the same time. He could make violence virtuous and charity odious. His films live and breathe contradiction and leave us breathless.”


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