“You know what I do to squealers? I let ’em have it in the belly, so they can roll it over for a long time, thinkin’ it over.”
[Note: The following review is of a non-Peary title; click here to read more.]
Indeed, Kiss of Death brought immediate fame to Widmark, and it’s easy to see why: while many note that Mature gives one of the best performances of his career here, his character:
— a conflicted con hoping for a second chance — is literally dwarfed by Udo, who dominates each scene he’s in.
As played by Widmark, giggling Udo emerges as one of the quintessential “villains” of cinema; critic James Agee (cited in the All Movie Guide OVerview) wrote, “You feel that murder is the kindest thing he’s capable of.” The film itself (co-written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer) is competent noir, with several suspenseful sequences (particularly the final showdown between Mature and Widmark) and atmospheric location cinematography in New York City — but it’s Widmark who ultimately elevates it to “must see” status.
Note: Blink and you’ll miss Karl Malden in a tiny role as a police sergeant grilling Mature.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: