A Kiss Before Dying (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Kiss Before Dying1956

A Kiss Before Dying (1956)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Budd Corliss (Robert Wagner) is an ambitious, poor boy from the wrong-side-of-the-tracks who murders his girlfriend Dorothy (Joanne Woodward) -- making the death look like a suicide -- when her pregnancy eliminates his chances of being accepted by her wealthy family. Her sister Ellen (Virginia Leith), refusing to believe that Dorothy has committed suicide, begins to investigate on her own. She meets Budd, and ignorant of his prior relationship with Dorothy begins a relationship with him. When Ellen discovers that Budd knew Dorothy, the stage is set for a final, dramatic showdown as Ellen fights to revenge her sister and save her own life. The script, adapted from the novel of the same name written by Ira Levin is excellent and tension-filled. Joanne Woodward is fine in a touching performance as the vulnerable and trusting Dorothy. A wooden performance by Robert Wagner in the pivotal central role mars the film and destroys some of its credibility, as Wagner, though handsome, lacks the charm and charisma necessary to make the character of Budd believable. Also, despite an excellent performance by Mary Astor as Budd's class-conscious, greedy mother, the film fails to achieve any sympathy for Budd or understanding of the motivations that drove him to do what he did.

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Robert Wagner
as Bud Corliss
Joanne Woodward
as Dorothy ('Dorie') Kingship
Jeffrey Hunter
as Gordon Grant
Virginia Leith
as Ellen Kingship
Mary Astor
as Mrs. Corliss
George Macready
as Leo Kingship
Robert Quarry
as Dwight Powell
Mollie McCart
as Annabelle
Marlene Felton
as Medical Student
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Critic Reviews for A Kiss Before Dying

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

This multiple-murder story is an offbeat sort of film, with Robert Wagner portraying a calculating youth who intends to allow nothing to stand in his way to money... Gerd Oswald's restrained direction suits the mood.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Wagner is perfect as the college kid psycho coolly removing the pregnant Woodward from his life.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A silky-smooth adaptation of Ira Levin's first novel.

November 18, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Based on Ira Levin's (admittedly superior) novel...

July 14, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

This is a fine adaptation of Rosemary's Baby author Ira Levin's dark tale about a social climber who kills his wealthy girlfriend when her pregnancy threatens her inheritance.

October 30, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

An excellent screenplay (unoriginal but full of tension), subtle direction by the overlooked and underutilized Oswald, and good photography help gloss over any weaknesses in the performances.

October 30, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Kiss Before Dying

robert wagner will always be a lightweight. he is just not believable. have to credit director oswald and his dp lucien ballard with some beautiful compositions tho

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

This movie is a cross between a melodrama and a thriller, which I think is awesome, the story is really good. I highly recommend this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Much better than the remake, Wagner is good but much better is Mary Astor as his mother. Joanne Woodward's part is small.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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