Cute song, right? But listen…lets get serious about kissing, shall we? See, you have never been kissed until you’ve been kissed by a Spiderwoman … a black widow … a lethal lady. Its intensity is like no other. 0r if Cary Grant took you in his arms, or Ricardo Cortez roughly shook you up, down to your toes as Steve Cochran would. A kiss could be sweetly elegant like Ronald Colman or hot and steamy like being kissed by Jean Peters. You would be like a moth to the flame, going willingly. Happily. Fatally.
I bring you Second Sight Cinema’s: “…A KISS IS JUST A KISS BLOGATHON” where we can “…reflect on a movie kiss that always sends you. Or that always cracks you up because it’s so lame. Or a particular actor who puts heart and soul into every kiss, or one whose kisses are weirdly lifeless in his otherwise romantic performances. Or a couple whose kisses heat up the room, or one whose peerless screen chemistry is weirdly absent in the kissing department.” So now that you know this blogathon’s premise, I bet you can think of some kisses that really send you. I know I have seen my share of movie kisses, and have some old and new favorites. One couple who comes to mind renders that glo-lorious, slo-motion greeting kiss: Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window.”
I like what my friend Ollie once wrote me about Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”:
“But Grace is Fully Human in this role. Completely human. Not bashful around her lover. Completely blasé when his pal shows up, too – she knows men talk, or at least wink or nudge. She knows the housekeeper notices. No need for pretenses. None at all: ‘Now, tell me everything you know.’ ”
We have the confirmation and grateful kiss of Garbo to Robert Taylor in “Camille”…grateful and happy she’s found love. Who can forget the bushel full of small kisses between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in “Notorious” that Hitch broke up and slid past the censors. Are they not two of the most gorgeous people you’ve ever seen? Ever? Kissing Cary Grant. Mmmm, a tough job, right ladies…but somebody’s got to do it!
There’s that wonderfully hopeful kiss at the end of “The Best Years Of Our Lives” between Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews that I simply adore and wait for ( the music swelling, their smiles and their kiss…especially including the fadeout. Oh, and her hat falling too. )
See CHRISTY’S INKWELLS for the full Monty on this kiss
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[ SPOILERS ]
GETTING DOWN TO BRASS TACKS: REFLECTIONS ON A MOVIE KISS:
It’s pretty hard to describe a kiss. You have to see it to feel it; hell, you have to feel it to feel it. For my entry in this blogathon, I want to reflect on two of my favorite films which are somewhat darker than your happily-ever-after romantic films. I will have to set things up a little for you. I’ll try and tell you about that kiss of the spiderwoman…at least as far as I can reckon sitting in front of my computer here, nowhere near any body’s lips.
These kisses happen when two different detectives cross paths with two of the most beautiful femmes fatales in movies. With one, she kills his heart, soul and psyche. With the other…she just kills him. It’s pretty much a toss-up which fate is a blessing. See, each of our detectives falls down on the job he is sent to do, which has dire consequences for everyone involved. Detective Scottie Ferguson ( played by James Stewart ) and Private Eye Jeff Bailey ( played by Robert Mitchum ) are assigned to report on, and bring back women to the men they belong.
It’s a breathtaking moment when we are first introduced to each woman. Kirk Douglas’ character explains in “Out of the Past”:
“Just bring her back. When you see her, you’ll understand better.”
We see her. We understand. The build-up we’ve been given by the men who want them back does not disappoint.
Kim Novak plays Madeleine Elster in “Vertigo.” She’s formal and elegant. Hitchcock gives her a great close-up. Madeleine enters Scottie’s view unaware she is watched. She walks right up to the camera, to Scottie…to us, and turns in profile. We, too, get to lingeringly gaze on her. She’s beautiful.
Equally iconic and just as arresting is Jane Greer’s entrance in “Out of the Past.” She plays Kathie Moffett, introduced in jaw-dropping, summery silhouette in ( almost ) diaphanous white. Jeff’s voice-over says it all:
“And then I saw her coming out of the sun. And I knew why Whit didn’t care about that forty grand.”
It’s interesting and clever how the film makes us complicit in all this watching. We see what the detectives see when they first see it. A voice-over takes US into his confidence.
Kathie’s entrance is stunning. She is beautiful, impassive and withholding. She drops enough bread-crumbs to get Jeff to chase her, and lets him catch her. Jeff steps right up to the plate with her, whereas Scottie lays back in the cut…following.
With Jeff and Kathie, their cards are put on the table pretty quickly. They both know who each other are. Jeff’s there to bring her back to the man she shot and stole from. Kathie’s tale of woe…tale of why, is explained on an empty moonlit beach, with just the two of them. There was abuse. She escaped. She never stole any money.
Kathie: “Don’t you believe me?”
Jeff: “Baby, I don’t care.”
“Baby, I don’t care.” When I saw this movie the first time, that line rattled me. Guess I’m used to my movie detectives being down and dirty, but basically upright, stand-up, Dudley Doo-Rights. Saying he doesn’t care throws caution to the wind. Woweee! Finally, a man that tells the truth. This most famous line in film noir is delivered perfectly, and does two things neatly and succinctly. IT offers Absolution:
- It absolves a femme fatale of any real or perceived sins. ( Yay! )
- It absolves the man from thinking things through. ( Ooh, I dunno. )
Her beauty and desirability ensures his aid. His “baby, I don’t care” drips with lustful insouciance. That’s the ONLY way to say that line, dripping with it. There’s only 0NE thing HE cares about. (Who wouldn’t you kill to hear someone forgive your sins like that?) They begin to kiss, waves crash behind them in the moon’s light. Right here…this is not about love.
When Jeff and Kathie meet again on the beach, they go to her bungalow to escape a sudden downpour. She puts on a record ( that plays the movie’s love theme. ) They playfully rough house drying each other’s hair. Jeff tosses a wet towel which knocks down the lamp. They’re in darkness again. Most of their meetings take place in the dark; they are cocooned by darkness ( as opposed to the open sunlight of Jeff with the girl he left behind…Ann. ) Perhaps Kathie’s strength and allure lies in darkness. She dims her flame’s light yet he keeps coming.
He wants her to run away with him. She turns off the record. A heavy blanket of silence wraps them as they speak; no music clouds things between them…and us. They’re getting down to brass tacks here. Again, Mitchum’s back is to the camera so it’s all on Jane Greer. And boy, can she hold the scene with her voice and eyes. Her Kathie’s eyes are dark pools to drown in. She sits very close to him on the couch:
Kathie: “Jeff I’m glad you’re not afraid of him.”
Jeff: “I’ve been afraid of half the things I ever did.”
Kathie: “And this time?”
Jeff: “I’m only afraid you might not go.”
Kathie: “Don’t be. I’ll be there tomorrow. Love me?”
Jeff: “Mmmm hmmm.”
Jeff: “What’s that?”
They don’t kiss, but she leans across his shoulder for support and love. It’s a quiet scene. Sensuous with these two, in the dark, in the quiet, in their love. Oh yeah, it’s about love now. It’s a pretty powerful moment in the film, this love scene. The tension is exciting. When we get to the third set-piece of Jeff and Kathie together, they’re on the run now to escape Kirk Douglas, the third leg in this triangle. ( “No, I just want her back.” ) They meet up at a mountain cabin. He pulls into the driveway and his car’s headlights spots her walking up the path to the cabin with groceries in hand:
“It was meeting her some where like in the first times. There was still that something about her that got me. The kind of magic or whatever it was; when I held her and we would laugh.”
It’s a nice scene of boy with girl, the lovely lilting music of Miklós Rózsa underscores the scene as he puts down her groceries and sweetly kisses her. Again, Mitchum’s back to the camera so Greer has to sell it. She’s as pretty as the girl next door. She sells it. She sells niceness and longing. Death is right around the corner.
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“Vertigo” has my other favorite kiss. Ex-detective Scottie Ferguson’s assign-ment is to follow his old college chum’s wife who wanders around San Francisco driving. Where does she go. What does she do. He follows her…she jumps into the bay…he saves her from drowning. Now that they’ve been properly introduced, he can help her in earnest; get to the root of her issues. They become close, wandering together along the Pacific coast. She confides in him, bears her fears to him. He’s fallen for her. She runs from him. He catches her and promises to protect her. The girl needs help. And he needs to help her.
Madeleine: “Oh Scottie. I’m not mad. I’m not mad. I don’t
want to die. There’s something within me that
says I must die. Oh Scottie, don’t let me go.”
Scottie: “I’m here. I’ve got you.”
Madeleine: “I’m so afraid. Don’t let me go. Stay with me.”
Scottie: “All of the time.”
They’re on a windswept bluff. Waves crash against the cliff. Bernard Hermann’s lush romantic music swells. Scottie and Madeleine kiss. He’s captured the dream, his dreamgirl. He seals it with a kiss, a deep kiss from his heart…from his soul. He’s not settling ( I’m sorry Midge ) but finally in love. He will keep Madeleine safe.
Scottie’s stint in a mental facility is a brief respite. ( Madeleine has jumped from a church tower with Scottie chasing close behind her, but unable to save her due to his vertigo. ) He recreates a new girl he meets, Judy – who sort of looks like Madeleine – into Madeleine’s image. Isn’t that what we all do in love…recreate the image of love’s first imprint on us? After unknowingly recreating the recreation, he has his Madeleine back. You know the scene I’m talking about. Some think it’s twisted, crazy…but I LOVE it. It’s wonderfully delirious. Deliriously romantic. Scottie had lost her, but he now has Madeleine back through his recreating her. When Judy makes that final transformation, she comes to him through the neon mist of time as Madeleine. ( WE practically scream: “It’s ALIVE!!!” ) It’s an incredible scene in context to what comes before. She walks into his arms, into his embrace. The longing and waiting is over. Scottie can be whole again. How lucky can a guy be, getting a second chance at love…of his own re-making.
They both have what they want. Scottie has Madeleine again through Judy and Judy has Scottie through Madeleine. Does all that take away from this kiss. Not for me. This IS all too good to be true when Scottie loses her, again.
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Both movies have kisses with a variety of purpose and reasons: lust, love, longing. When the damsels-in-distress reveal their true identity we have the kiss-off and it’s not pretty. First Kathie. She’s had to kill…again.
Paradise lost… But Kathie wants to start all over again with Jeff.
“I never told you I was anything but what I am. You just wanted to imagine I was. That’s why I left you. Now we’re back to stay…we’re starting all over. I want to go back to Mexico. I want to walk out in the sun again and find you waiting. I want to sit in the same moonlight and tell you all the things I never told you. ‘Till you don’t hate me. Until sometime you love again. If you’re thinking of anyone else, don’t. Wouldn’t work. You’re no good for anyone but me. You’re no good…and neither am I.”
She seals it with a kiss. A bitter pill for Jeff to swallow.
Judy/Madeleine is unwittingly unmasked but I see her more as a victim. And though not as cold and calculating as Kathie, Judy wants her second chance as well. She hadn’t meant to fall in love with Scottie. But he knows who she is now; he wants nothing to do with her. She pleads her case:
“Scottie, I was safe when you found me. There was nothing that you could prove. When I saw you again, I couldn’t run away. I loved you so. I walked into danger, let you change me because I loved you so.”
He struggles with this truth amidst one last confused kiss that’s a mishmash of emotions of him wanting her and wanting to kill her and wanting to believe her. Suddenly, a nun appears in the church tower with them, startling them both, causing Madeleine to stumble.
“You dirty double-crossing rat.” “Why did you have to pick on me? Why me?!”
What leads up to a kiss? What happens afterwards? Both ladies are somewhat damaged and need saving. At least, pretend to. The romantic in me believes Kathie and Madeleine/Judy loved these two men. Kiss these femmes fatales at your own risk. But when they build your gallows high, make sure you don’t have vertigo.
…And I’m not the only one kissing and telling. If you click on the banner below, you can read some delectable entries in this blogathon. I want to thank Lesley of Second Sight Cinema for hosting this great idea. And thanks to you for reading my entry. Now……kiss me, you fool: