October 30, 1964 [The Naked Kiss]

I want to write one of those lines that goes, "The Naked Kiss makes Peyton Place look like ..." with an appropriately limp-wristed comparison that sums up the former's outlandishness. But Samuel Fuller's movie does more than trump the Hollywood soap opera, it turns it inside-out: Instead of being polished and professional on the outside and empty on the inside, The Naked Kiss is ramshackle to look at, clumsy in its editing, stiff in its acting--but inside it's full to bursting, like a tick or rotting corpse. No empty "revelations" or "dark secrets" here--at least, none that a respectable movie would want to primp and pose. No, these grimy little actors in their herky-jerky picture molest children and ship young girls to candy-colored whore-houses--while the whore dotes on crippled kids and falls in love with a sexual deviant--taking out time to stuff dirty money into a madam's mouth.

The first moment of the picture lets us know we're in for delirium and nausea: Kelly, the born-to-orthopedic-nursing prostitute, beats up her pimp--and her wig comes off and we see she's bald, but she keeps whaling away at the little crumb. The jazz music fades, then it's violins and saxophones as she re-adjusts the wig and puts on her face, looking at us, almost smirking at our uneasy expressions.

Fuller's movie hates small towns the way other soap operas do--but he's not content merely to scorn their tawdry inbreedings and lies. No, Fuller wants to throttle the soap opera into submission, he wants to get in one last kick in the head after it's down, so that the only thing he gives Grantville--a nice place to live if you want to do unspeakable things to children and still run the joint--is a good look at his ass as he walks away.


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