"Pickup on South Street" 1953, an 80-minute film noir gem, is a favorite of mine. Richard Widmark and Thelma Ritter (not just exceptional in romantic comedy supporting Rock Hudson and Doris Day in "Pillow Talk") were the two characters and performances I like best. Filmmaker Sam Fuller's creative writing, directing strength, and (indie) producing savvy continued to shine in "The Naked Kiss" 1964. It is the ultimate pulp fiction: high drama soap, touch of camp and tints of film noir. Beautifully shot in Black and White. Terrific cast with Constance Towers as Kelly, the central power of energy and charm, and undeterred determination; Anthony Eisley as Griff, the gruff, tough cop with a tender heart underneath; and the townsfolk of varying characters, nice and not-so-nice to downright sleazy, crooked ones, male or female, and a number of child performances for that matter. Yet with all this, there is a blossoming healthy, full of goodwill story about handicapped youngsters, being encouraged to stand up and be happy in spite of their weaknesses.
The opening segment (before the title/credits roll) is in itself an emphatic revelation. Kelly truly wants to turn over a new leaf, and she readily shares and helps others without guile. She is no loser. She's our heroine of the story. Tearjerker? Certainly can be. Thriller suspense, too? Definitely. Will she be innocently proclaimed? Will the witness precious be found? We would root for her, our Kelly. She is so 'gung ho' and downright nice to everyone (but she can also stand up tough against the 'bad' ones). Fuller's script runs its own natural course with surprises and satisfying plot twists never lacking.
This may not be for everyone (NFE). But if you can take high drama with wide human emotional range, appreciate energetic 'filmic' storytelling with intrigue, you'll enjoy this movie immensely. A Sam Fuller film doesn't disappoint but deserves applause practically guaranteed. His films are no fuss, straightforward and bold, frank and colorful in dialog, and there's the element of raw sophistication (sounds oxymoron, but life is full of contradictions). "The Naked Kiss" is available on DVD, Criterion Collection, widescreen, 91 minutes (just the right length).