First of all A kiss before dying is intriguing and somehow sexy in a vintage Technicolor kind of way. The noir film tells the story of Bud Corliss, an elegant and ambitious student who is quietly dating heiress Dorothy aiming to her family’s fortune. But when Dorothy got pregnant she risks being outed of the family heritage if her conservative father finds out. That would leave Bud with a wife and child to care of, and he wants none of that. For this reason he accepts his girlfriend proposal to basically elope and on that day instead he stages her suicide and throws her from the top of a building.
Shortly after. Bud starts dating Dorothy’s sister, Ellen, in order to regain the keys to her family wealth (keys he had lost with Dorothy). But the pieces are not quite fitting together and Ellen is being suspicious and soon starts doing her own investigations as she never believed that her sister committed suicide. Ellen is eventually proven right, her fiance is hiding some secrets, and with the help of a detective will solve the mystery behind her sister’s death and save her own life.
The movie is an adaptation from a novel by Ira Levin, and is a directorial debut, so I we can lower the bar of expectations. It might be easier now to watch this sort of movies, on a Tuesday night maybe. This vintage film is in fact entertaining in particular in the first part until where Dorothy is all about planning the secret wedding while Bud is instead arranging for her demise.
Personally I like watching old movies for their cars, their clothing, their vibe, their unique colors and the music they feature when some cliffhanger is about to happen. Bud is played by Robert Wagner which is a perfect dandy, selfish and distant, elegant in the posture and with hair stolen to the publicity; I also like Ellen, she would not stop at anything in order to find out what happen to her little sister Dorothy. Probably, you will root for detective Grant to ask Ellen out and win her affection in the end of the film.
It surprised me how independent and stubborn was designed Ellen’s character (I mean this film is from 1956!) and how was she able to defend herself even without the men who running up to save her in the last scenes of the film. She is not the damsel in distress waiting for someone to fight for her but she has total control of her life.
Don’t miss out this film, it is not particularly clever, there are not big plot twist and is not particularly well acted but it’s not the kind of film you either love or hate, you will just like it for what it is, your next pick for your vintage Tuesday at home sipping Martini.