The Death Kiss (1932)

Article #770 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-24-2003
Posting Date: 9-21-2003
Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Featuring David Manners, Adrienne Ames, Bela Lugosi

When an actor is murdered on a film set, the primary suspect is an actress. A mystery writer tries to keep one step ahead of the police in an effort to clear the actress from suspicion.

This forgotten horror isn’t really a horror movie, and as far as fantastic elements go, it may have a hint of science fiction in the modus operandi of one of the murders, but it’s pretty slight. However, it might be of interest to horror fans in that it features three actors from DRACULA; namely, Bela Lugosi, Edward Van Sloan, and David Manners; the latter in particular has never been more fun than he is here as the wise-cracking mystery writer intent on finding the solution before the police do. In fact, the whole movie is a surprisingly sturdy treat; it’s well-directed at a brisk pace and has an almost dizzying array of colorful characters that pop up as the story unwinds. It also has some scenes that make subtle but effective use of hand-coloring, that is, if you get hold of the right print. And whether or not Bela Lugosi is a red herring, at least he doesn’t stalk around acting suspicious the whole movie (a sure sign that he’s innocent), so you’re really left wondering if he’s the villain till the final reel. Once again, even if this one doesn’t really belong to the fantastic genres, it is definitely recommended.

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