Samuel Fuller’s THE NAKED KISS (1963) kicks off with a bang as we see Kelly (Constance Towers) batter her pimp unconscious, take the money he’s been cheating her of, and walk out. She next shows up in a respectable small town, has a quick tumble with the local cop Griff (Anthony Eisley) only to have him order her to the neighboring town where morals are loose; if Griff lets her stay in his neighborhood, the people might start talking.
Instead, Kelly goes to work at a nearby hospital for disabled children and proves gifted at it (I’ve no idea how I’d judge those bits if I were disabled — or how she slides into a nursing gig with no license). She attracts the town’s wealthiest citizen (Michael Dante), protects her coworkers (steering one girl from going across the street and turning tricks) and Griff reluctantly lets her stay. But it turns out Kelly’s new lover has a secret and it’s going to get her in trouble …
This is a very noirish melodrama that must have seemed pretty raw at the time given its sexual aspect; watched now, it still works. As a writer, I was interested in the special features which included several interviews with Fuller discussing how being a reporter influenced his film career and his distaste for quiet scenes where nothing’s happening. Overall, an excellent purchase. “You’ll be sleeping on the skin of a nightmare for the rest of your life.”
Now the week’s losers — THE OTHER SIDE OF SUNDAY (1996) was a disappointing Norwegian drama about a priest’s daughter restless in her Christian life (“By the time I’m confirmed I’ll have spent 640 hours in this pew.”) and tentatively pushing against the restrictions that surround her. Unfortunately it’s so low-key and subdued that it didn’t hold my attention. “Please god, let the priest fart so that the entire congregation jumps.”
At least Other Side of Sunday aspired; THE NIGHT WE NEVER LEFT (1993) feels like nobody involved gave a crap. Matthew Broderick an Annabelle Sciorra are among the trio time-sharing an apartment (partner #3 is an annoying fratboy jerk, which didn’t help), but none of the dramas are at all dramatic. I checked out early. I was, though, really struck by how much smoking there was everywhere compared to today.
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