Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Virginia Leith, Joanne Woodward, Mary Astor, George Macready, Robert Quarry, Howard Petrie, Bill Walker, Molly McCart, Marlene Felton
Written by: Lawrence Roman, based on a novel by Ira Levin
Directed by: Gerd Oswald
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 94
Date: 06/12/1956

A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hit and 'Kiss'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kudos to MGM for giving this obscure classic a decent DVD release. Director Gerd Oswald never achieved much recognition in his life, but this, his debut feature, proves he had the right stuff. Based on an Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby) novel, Robert Wagner stars as a slick, handsome college boy who discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant. Worried about what that will do to his lifestyle, he murders her, and begins to court her sister. But the sister keeps her eyes open and discovers a few holes in his story, soon finding her own life in danger. Oswald, who never graduated past B-movies and television, makes masterful use of the frame, pitting his dark thriller elements against a full-color, widescreen frame. His opulent sets and the climax set on the brink of a gravel pit are worth looking at twice.

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