Kiss of Death (1947) **1/2
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Now I was recently introduced to Victor Mature earlier in the week with the very entertaining, but imperfect, "I Wake Up Screaming." Here, six years later, he has matured (no pun intended) with a more serious and less playful role as the flawed hero Nick Bianco. After a jewel heist gone bad, Nick is sent to jail where he is asked to rat on the other three people that were involved in the heist. He decides that he will when one of the members, the rat Tommy Udo, ends up abusing his wife until she decides to kill herself, and he also wants to protect his two children.
"Kiss of Death" is slow, almost painfully slow to an extent. It does take its sweet time telling this story, often lingering on one scene for more time than is needed. Mature is fantastic here, and it was no surprise that I read that this is often cited his best role, as it is also filled with much depth. Compared to "I Wake Up Screaming," which seemed a less serious murder story-with him being the charming lead with the charming smile etc-this is much more heavy, and this character is filled with as much flaw as their is good. But in the end it lost some impact just because of the pacing, and the second half just seemed to drag on and drag. Actor Richard Widmark, in his first film role, is great as Tommy Udo, one of the sickest characters I've seen in the genre, and he barely even gets any screen time. But when he is revealed in between the closed door, the shot is just plain chilling.