|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(aka 'The Unafraid')
Directed by Norman Foster
Joan Fontaine and Burt Lancaster star in Kiss the Blood off My Hands, a classic film noir about fate and love amongst the most unlikely individuals. Former P.O.W Bill Saunders (Lancaster) is living in England and scarred with unstable and violent tendencies. After killing a man in a bar fight, he flees the scene and manages to find cover in the home of Nurse Jane Wharton (Fontaine) who agrees to take him in and believes his version of the story being an accident. Now in love, nurse Warton tries to secure Saunders a job delivering medical supplies after being released from prison after serving time for fighting with a police officer. Things take a turn, however, when a racketeer (Robert Newton) who witnessed Saunders’ murder threatens to turn him into the police unless he agrees to assist in a crime.
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands was a pleasant surprise, though I was initially skeptical as to whether or not it would live up to its salacious title. The film screams noir from the opening moments, as Burt, having accidentally killed a bartender, leads the Bobbies on a ten-minute foot chase through the maze-like London waterfront. He only escapes by climbing through an open window and forcibly shushing the woman he finds inside — a mousy blonde (Fontaine) startled from a restless sleep. The sequence plays without much dialog, and Russell Metty’s cinematography establishes the mood. Close-ups of a sweaty, terrified Lancaster abound. As do handhelds, chiaroscuro lighting, high angles, low angles, and seedy waterfront exteriors. The film’s noir motif is so strongly established that is compares favorably with Jules Dassin’s later London masterpiece Night and the City.
Norman Foster has directed "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands" with keen appreciation for the story's emotional content and he has handled the scenes of violence with striking sharpness. The long chase that starts the film on its way, with Lancaster desperately racing through winding streets and alleyways of the London waterfront, vaulting fences and scrambling1 up on roofs, is high-tension excitement. Mr. Lancaster's performance is good, but he would do well to drop some of his tenseness and get more flexibility into his acting. Robert Newton, as a cockney schemer who witnessed the killing and attempts to blackmail Saunders, is somewhat flamboyant but still he gets over an effective characterization. "Kiss the Blood Off My Hands" represents a good beginning for the new producing firm of Harold Hecht-Norma (Mr. Lancaster) Productions.
Theatrical Release: October 30th, 1948
|Recently Released Essential Noirs|
DVD Review: Universal 'Vault Series' - Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Universal - Region 0 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.99 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands is another elusive Essential Noir that hasn't surfaced on digital until now?!? Who makes these decisions? Not only does it have Burt Lancaster and Joan Fontaine (what a pairing!) but it has one of the most exploitive titles in all of dark cinema!
The disc is predictably single-layered and has no menus, or extras, and the transfer is interlaced (see combing in bottom capture.) Aside from that it was surprisingly adept - texture with some contrast layering. Aside from an occasional vertical scratch or frame-specific mark it looked solid for SD on my system. DoP Russell Metty's shadows and light and scrumptious - even in the lesser format.
The audio is a factor of the production - there are some heavy-ish Brit accents but most of the dialogue is easily discernable but the score by the iconic Miklós Rózsa (The Killers, The Lost Weekend, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Double Indemnity) has a stranglehold on the film's moods and atmosphere. Great tension exported. There are no subtitles and the media is locked to region FREE.
The film has
enough Noir-conventions to make it on our list - murder,
black-mail, jail-time etc., and it's beautifully shot with two
attractive leads. It's another on-the-run suspense-driven picture
alleyways of the London waterfront.
You need more? Again though, we show our displeasure at the pricing,
made-on-demand status and lack of any extras. Only completist suckers
like this reviewer need indulge.