This is The Naked Kiss, and she is Kelly, played by a dynamite Constance Towers. A former prostitute, she comes to a small town to make a new life for herself, taking a position as a candy striper in a children’s hospital. Her desired transformation is spelled out in a story Kelly tells the sick children in her care, about a swan who turns into a boy because he can pretend. Yes, pretend…
No character in a Samuel Fuller film is permitted to escape their past: not the lead, not the supporting characters, not even the racist canine in 1983’s White Dog. Her first week in town finds Kelly turning another trick with a police captain (Anthony Eisley). Hope for Kelly’s escape, however, does pop up sporadically in the story, as when Kelly becomes engaged to the wealthy Grant (Michael Dante), whose surname lends itself to the town. But no one seems uncorrupted in the world of Samuel Fuller.
With this unrelenting treatment of his characters, a lively (albeit jerky) narrative style and heavy-handed dialog ripped straight from B-level pulp novels, The Naked Kiss is pure Fuller. Take it or leave it. Tolerate it or don’t.
The South Bank Show: “Sam Fuller” (31:05): Originally airing in 1983, this segment serves as an overview of the director. Always lively (and with a cigar), Fuller offers an informative and fast-paced look into his life and career.
Cinéastes de notre temps (23:31): This 1967 episode of the French television series is another excellent look into the mind of Fuller, who (again) dishes out notes on his life and career. Some of the specific subjects at hand are: journalism, war, women, racism, and violence, all themes throughout the director’s career.
Cinéma cinémas (12:50): This segment from the French television series, originally aired in 1987, offers another interview with Fuller. This time, Fuller uses photographs as an aid to his storytelling.
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 24-page booklet with an essay titled “Fractured Fairy Tales” by critic and poet Robert Polito and excerpts from Fuller’s autobiography.