The Naked Kiss

The Naked Kiss ★★★★

THE NAKED KISS (Sam Fuller, USA, 1964) 8

I saw this film for the first time in the week that the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal unmistakably and demonstrably landed at the footsteps of legendary head coach Joe Paterno. But I had no previous idea of the plot or what "naked kiss" means, so my watching it on that day was pure coincidence -- going thru my Criterions stash, Penn State not remotely on my mind, though I could hardly believe it when that shoe dropped.

Fuller, here at least, is at one and the same time both a lurid in-your-face provocateur (literally in your face, at the start) AND a tender Romantic. More than once Lars Von Trier came to mind as these two surface-incompatible Fuller styles bleed into one another imperceptibly and become indistinct. Who but the Lars Von Trier of 1964 would include a handicapped-kids music number and uneuphemized words "abortion" and "prostitute." It's like a sex-reversed Lars Von Trier film noir -- with a good but sinful woman amid a bevy of hommes fatales.