STANLEY KUBRICK'S KILLER'S KISS
A SHOT-BY-SHOT ANALYSIS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
For the real film buff, I've gone through and listed shots, images from each, and length of time of shots. Because I raised myself on the old Evergreen Black Cat cinema books which took pains to do the same and loved studying them. And because that is the only way I felt I could really begin to do a good, involved analysis of Kubrick's films, which are very complex internally, and also all the films being related to one another.
Kubrick's films elicit a lot of whys and wherefores, "What does this mean?", because he included so many seeming puzzles inviting review, mysteries that demanded second and third notice, editing quirks and both subtle and obvious shifts in staging. My analyses haven't much to do with the psychology, but look at Kubrick's choices of stories, music, places he filmed, staging, the differences between the literature and the script that made it onto celluloid and how he chose to edit it all together, carrying themes from film to film, and based on these elements I dip into a variety of possible influences.
PART ONE - Shots 1 - 131 (through abt 16:22)
A Note Before Beginning, With a Focus on the Casting
Preparatory Viewing and reading. The influence of Day of the Fight.
Credits and Intro at the Train Station, Shots 1 through 3
Notes on the Credits. The double bass, the sweep, and the faceless man. The double bass as a pun. The train. The minotaur. 240
The Boxer and the Dancer and Their Mirrored Lives, Shots 4 through 40
Notes on The Boxer and the Dancer and their Mirrored Lives. Blur transitions. Focus upon the details. Some repeated shots from Day of the Fight. The Triad of the Hollywood Barber Shop, the Parisian Dance Hall, and Boxing, and Their Relationship to Prostitution. Day of the Fight and Twinship/doubling. Davey's mirror. The fish bowl. What about that bright shiny triangle on the wall by Davey's window? And what about that great big knife hanging by the door over what looks like a packaged Ramen leven kitchenette area? Identifying religion, as in Day of the Fight. The suggestion of a rear screen projection or blue screen behind Albert, the manager, which turns out not to be.
Location of the Apartment Building
The Letter, Shots 42 through 46.
Notes on The Letter. The letter Davey reads different from what we hear in the voice-over.
The Duress of the Boxer in his Ring and the Hired Dancer Compared and Found Equivalent, Shots 47 through 131
Notes on The Duress of the Boxer in his Ring and the Hired Dancer Compared and Found Equivalent. Santa and the swimming baby. Christmas. Shot 64 and its relationship to Day of the Fight. Trouble in Pleasure Land. Vincent's office and its posters from the theatrical productions, Blue Jeans, and The Cherry Pickers. The fight. Who is the audience. How many times have you come home in the evening and wanted to feel the love... It's a well known ring adage that too much education... Shot 114.
PART TWO - Shots 132 - 236 (through abt 34:16)
The Voyeur, The Dream, and Gloria's Rescue, Shots 132 through 175
The Situation Thus Far - On Kubrick's Treatment of the Rape of Gloria
Notes on The Voyeur, The Dream, and Gloria's Rescue. The voyeur. The journey through the negative dream world into Davey's role as Gloria's savior. Dopey. Editing. Davey's exploration of Gloria's room. The doll. The ship's wheel lamp.
The Story of Two Sisters, Shots 176 through 231
Notes on the Story of Two Sisters. Iris' story. Gloria's story. Shots 225 and 226. A problem of time. That plant.
A Proposal, Shots 232 through 236
Notes on A Proposal. The Kiss, and how Kubrick doesn't often depict romantic relationships.
PART THREE - Shots 237 - 325 (through abt 48:27)
The Killing of Albert, Shots 237 through 293
Notes on the Killing of Albert. The mocking twin clowns, the window, and the broken mirror. Watch your step, the two conventioneers, map of the contradictory paths taken on the street. The Man Between. 8:15 sharp. The alley.
Gloria Vanishes, shots 294 through 325.
Notes on Gloria Vanishes. Revisiting the goldfish bowl. Those twin keys.
PART FOUR - Shots 326 - 494 (through abt 1:07:13, beginning of last shot)
The Fight for His Life, Shots 326 through 494
Locations. Dumbo District and Plymouth and Adams.
The Ace of Spades and the Four of Spades
Himberama, Orson Welles and the Card Trick Distraction. The actor who played Davie was in Orson Welles' theater company in Paris.
Davey's Dream and his Crash Through the Window. The influence of Cocteaus Orpheus.
The Broken Window at the 24th Street Loft, 240, and the Clowns
Back to the "Blue Jeans" Poster
The Mannequin Factory
Iris, the Labrys, the Fleur-de-lys, and the Killing of Vincent
On Kubrick's Showing in Killer's Kiss the Rationale of Paying Attention to Shot Numbers. The sleeping cars of the train the same numbers of the last shots of the film.
The Selling of the Movie
Why Kubrick Might Have Been Interested in the Girl Hunt Ballet
The Showgirl as Walter Cartier's Counterpart and Her Relationship to Killer's Kiss. Before the Black Swan and The Fight Kubrick had the boxer Walter Cartier and the showgirl Rosemary Williams.
"The Creep" And The Doll - - 1951 Life Article on Showgirl, Rosemary Williams, Who Had Been Photographed by Kubrick for an Unpublished Look Story in 1949. Wherein Rosemary Williams gets in a couple of years after Kubrick photographed her.
Conclusion of the Sid Levy Trial, Benefactor of Showgirl Rosemary Williams Who Kubrick Had Photographed in 1949. How it ended. But what happened to Rosemary later?
Rosemary Williams, who Kubrick photographed for a prospective LOOK piece, on What's My Line in 1966, her name then being Maria Kastner
Killer's Kiss Location - The Apartment Building
Are you one of the league who find Kubrick's cinema fascinating and wonderful but are also confused by seeming peculiarities? Are you certain those often under-the-radar-over-the-head weirdnesses must mean something? Or maybe you're just curious?
Here's my request. That you, please, think in terms of art with intention, which isn't conspiracy and has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. Would you think of music composed of unspoken themes as being conspiracy? What's difficult is teasing out the artist's conscious intention as versus accidental as versus the viewer's role as an active pilgrim walking the road that art provides to accessing the unconscious and mythic, the vast knowledge that has been archived in your brain from birth forward of symbols and metaphors and archetypes through navigating the warehouse of such that is actively and passively feeding you in the cultures of everyday society. As an author and artist, I know what it is to hope for at least a few such pilgrims, confident they are the minority, that most think in terms of being only entertained, and to attempt to compose for both. Even with those who are just wanting a good story, or who want to dissect a film for practical good-cinema purposes, the majority would likely admit that it is the inherent mystery in Kubrick's films that functions as their primary gravity. It is that sense of something deeper, a subterranean coherence that provides the glue, that compels individuals to return and perhaps begin to move, without their even realizing it, from a passive state into a more active, participatory role where art becomes a transformative experience rather than just visual popcorn. For that matter, even a simple detective story can actively engage the viewer, and Kubrick's films have a touch of the detective genre to them. For instance, at the end of The Shining Kubrick zooms in on Jack seemingly appearing in an old photograph of The Overlook, and he is holding what looks like a little slip of paper, a little rectangle of white in the palm of his hand, as if displaying it for us, but what is it? One is compelled to try to solve the mystery of Jack in the photo, what could be in his hand, so one watches the movie again. That's the sleuthing, detective part of watching Kubrick's films.
The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this deconstruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates and reveals these elements that betray the overt and naturalistic story line as being artifice, a studio fiction that rests upon something both more solid and also bizarre. The surface story lines are the principle ones, but they are maintained and supported by the sub rosa dialogue. These deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and play with a purposeful sense of disorientation that when locked into exposes a puzzle that annihilates the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept, and it's easy enough to stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors. But they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why" of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form in the hands of the participant viewer who is engaged rather than a passive recipient.
Approx 1913 words or 4 single-spaced pages. A 15 minute read at 130 wpm.