Bela Lugosi’s Death Kiss

No Deadly Kiss from Bela Lugosi

Only rarely do we have a chance to see or to review a Poverty Row movie from 1932 that stars Bela Lugosi.  Death Kiss was made on the heels of Dracula. (1931) and provided the cast to reunite and play it for laughs.

Death Kiss starts out like a house afire. Its opening scene is well-produced and puts a movie within a movie. The star is shot to death in pivotal scene while on the sound stage. It seems real enough.

The film released 90 years ago, almost to the day, features colorized, tinted scenes. That alone was intriguing enough to want to watch a bad murder mystery.

Lugosi is a studio manager working under a bad impression of L. B. Mayer in New York Yiddish accent. The studio novelist/writer thinks he is Angela Lansbury, but acts like a supercilious Hercule. He is insufferable, as played by David Manners.

On top of interfering with inept Los Angeles police (how things never change), he is having an affair with the leading lady who is prime suspect as the ex-wife of the victim who is in for an insurance wind-fall.

Adrienne Ames is stunning in the movie star role. Her B-movie career was short and she died young, but she is highly watchable here.

Lugosi telegraphs villainy at every step. Indeed, he seems to be the shadowy killer in at least one scene where he can identified. He is the tallest member of the cast, imperiously straight-backed.

The film progressively deteriorates, but does end with a surprise or two. As far as the color tints are concerned, it was a weird experiment to say the least. It is minor and pointless.