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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interview with star Constance Towers by film historian and filmmaker Charles Dennis
  • Excerpts from a 1983 episode of The South Bank Show dedicated to director
  • Samuel Fuller
  • Interview with Fuller from a 1967 episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps
  • Interview with Fuller from a 1987 episode of the French television series Cinéma cinémas
  • Original theatrical trailer

The Naked Kiss

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Samuel Fuller
Starring: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Virginia Grey
1964 | 90 Minutes | Licensor: F&F Productions

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #18
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: January 18, 2011
Review Date: January 18, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

The setup is pure pulp: A former prostitute (a crackerjack Constance Towers) relocates to a buttoned-down suburb, determined to fit in with mainstream society. But in the strange, hallucinatory territory of writer-director-producer Samuel Fuller, perverse secrets inevitably simmer beneath a seemingly wholesome surface. Featuring radical visual touches, full-throttle performances, brilliant cinematography by Stanley Cortez, and one bizarrely beautiful musical number, The Naked Kiss is among Fuller's greatest, boldest entertainments.

Forum members rate this film 6.8/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion gives us a much needed reissue of Samuel Fuller’s The Naked Kiss, presenting the film in the aspect ratio of about 1.75:1 on this dual-layer disc in a new 1080p/24hz transfer.

Criterion’s previous edition presented the film in a ratio of about 1.66:1, while other DVD editions presented the film open matte in 1.33:1. While I would assume more is trimmed from the top and bottom because of this when compared to Criterion’s previous DVD but nothing stood out.

As to the actual transfer it of course looks far better than the old DVD, which presented a soft, non-anamorphic image, laced with artifacts and digital problems. This image is far sharper and cleaner with finer details present. Contrast also looks different and whites appear to be blooming at times, but this may be intended. Film grain is present but stable and remains natural through the entire running time. There are some minor blemishes in the print but nothing problematic and it is still a substantial improvement over the print used for the previous DVD.

Though I probably shouldn’t be, considering Criterion’s track record, I was still surprised by this. It’s a stunningly sharp presentation.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

I was also surprised by the improvements in the lossless PCM mono track, which, while still a little flat, is far more lively than I expected. It’s also clean, free of any background noise, and dialogue is intelligible and clear.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Supplements are also improved upon with Criterion including few supplements, most of which are interviews.

The first interview is with Constance Towers conducted by Charles Dennis and recorded in 2007. She covers her early career to an extent (an interview with her on the Shock Corridor release has more details) and then continues on with her role as a prostitute in The Naked Kiss, even mentioning what her parents thought about it. She also goes on fondly about Fuller and what it was like to work with him, and then also talks about working with some of the other actresses in the film. She also clears up whether she had actually shaved her head or not, though I wasn’t surprised by the revelation.

The remaining segments all revolve around interviews with director Samuel Fuller. First up is 31-minutes worth of excerpts from a 1983 episode of The South Bank Show. Filmed in his home, which includes a brief tour of what I assume is his study where he keeps all of his work, Fuller talks about his early career as a journalist and then talks about his writing style, what he likes to write about, how to keep it interesting, and also covers censors. In between all of this he also covers whatever odd detail may enter his head. He also mentions the Cahiers du cinema praise heaped upon him, and Wim Wenders also appears to talk about fuller and his work briefly. To the point and direct as always, and with cigar in hand throughout much of it, Fuller is a hoot just quickly moving through the interview. Since there are frequent cuts I assume there is material missing, but it’s possible these are just film clips that have been excised or even that nothing is actually missing.

Next is a 1967 episode of Cinéastes de notre temps featuring the director just talking about a variety of subjects that include, again, his work as a journalist, along with his work as a ghost writer, his thoughts on politics and religion, war, women, racism, and the money involved in making movies. It then concludes with a discussion on long takes. It moves at a rapid pace, broken up by titles, but again Fuller is a lively fellow, with a terrific if somewhat frightening laugh, and he keeps the interview fascinating. It runs about 23-minutes and is in English with burned in French subtitles.

The final interview comes from a 1987 episode of Cinéma cinemas running 13-minutes. He quickly goes over a number of photographs of him taken throughout the years, and then talks about his work with Fox and his relationship with then studio head Daryl F. Zanuck, and some discussion about Pickup on South Street. Another great feature.

The disc the closes with a 2-minute theatrical trailer.

The included booklet then includes a decent essay on the film by Robert Polito followed by a great excerpt from Fuller’s autobiography that mentions The Naked Kiss.

Though the material totals up to less than two hours it’s all worth viewing and fun, primarily thanks to Fuller himself.

7/10

CLOSING

A huge improvement over the previous Criterion DVD in every way, delivering a stunning new transfer, improved audio and actual supplements. Completely worth the upgrade if you’re fond of the film.


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