I wasn’t nearly as impressed with Dressed to Kill as others have since it doesn’t offer much mystery and the psychological elements which De Palma is normally a master of (look no further than Blow Out), isn’t very enticing either. I guess Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen excelled in their roles as Michael Caine, while not entirely remarkable, still manages to turn in a sufficient performance.
Genre(s): Thriller, Drama, Mystery
MGM | Unrated – 105 min. – $24.99 | September 6, 2011
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Writer(s): Brian De Palma (written by)
Cast: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz
Theatrical Release Date: July 25, 1980
Features: 4 Featurettes, Photo Gallery, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Mono)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Plot: Fashionable Manhattan Dr. Robert Elliott (MICHAEL CAINE) faces the most terrifying moment of his life, when a psychotic killer begins attacking the women (ANGIE DICKINSON and NANCY ALLEN) in his life — with a straight razor stolen from his office. Desperate to find the murderer before anyone else is hurt, Elliott is soon drawn into a dark and disturbing world of chilling desires. And as the doctor edges closer to the terrible truth, he finds himself lost in a provocative and deadly maze of obsession, deviance and deceit — where the most harmless erotic fantasies… can become the most deadly sexual nightmares!
Some call him a hack or copycat others say he’s merely honoring Alfred Hitchcock. Either way, Brian De Palma certainly can make a beautiful and interesting looking movie even when the script falls short. De Palma employs the same style to each one of his movies with forced perspective, having both the foreground and background in focus, or playing with shadows keeping the viewer in suspense about what will happen next. He’s also the master of the long, over-drawn shots seemingly going forever; sometimes it works, sometimes… not so much.
With Dressed to Kill, he uses all the tricks in his book and it’s mostly successful. The problem is, the story itself isn’t all that engaging nor is it unpredictable because when the twist is revealed near the end, it’s doesn’t come to much of a surprise, though to be fair De Palma doesn’t exactly try to hide it either instead focusing on the darker elements of sexual desires and the human psyche, a theme he has used throughout his career including his follow-up, Blow Out which for me was a far better film that brings more emotion to the characters compared with Dressed.
Dressed to Kill is an adequate thriller but certainly nothing special as the twist near the end was obvious and even so, the other elements that De Palma likes to employ doesn’t have near the dramatic effect compared with his other works. No doubt there are far worse ways to spend 100-minutes so I’d give this a slight recommendation if only to admire De Palma’s masterful direction, shame the script couldn’t keep up. That said, as an erotic film noir, it works quite well.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
“The Making of a Thriller” Documentary (43:51; SD) is a well rounded featurette on how Dressed to Kill was made and what influenced De Palma to write and direct it. This features archive interviews with De Palma and many others involved in the production.
A Film Comparison: The 3 Versions of Dressed to Kill (5:14; SD) is a great feature showing the differences between the Unrated, R-rated and Network versions doing top and bottom comparisons to see what cuts had been made.
Slashing Dressed to Kill (9:50; SD) covers the editing process for the other versions which obviously did not please De Palma.
Dressed to Kill: An Appreciation by Keith Gordon (6:06; SD) – A fine featurette that interviews actor Keith Gordon as he explains what makes the film so great.
Animated Photo-Gallery (6:13; SD) is your typical gallery where you can check out different production photos.
Theatrical Trailer (2:10; HD)
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Dressed to Kill slices its way onto Blu-ray high-def presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio and for a now 30 year old movie, looks quite good. There’s an abundant amount of noise throughout, especially during a blue-tinted sequence near the end, but it doesn’t detract from the details or color, albeit darker, schemes De Palma was going after. I didn’t notice much in the way of scratches, dust marks or other flaws so it appears MGM at least didn’t give this a cheap make-over.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio track meanwhile is OK if not a tad too soft at times, though outside of one of the murder scenes, there’s not much here that isn’t dialogue driven, which itself was clear enough. Now, Pino Donaggio’s score sounds pretty good but on the whole this is a track that doesn’t offer much depth.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, I wasn’t nearly as impressed with Dressed to Kill as others have since it doesn’t offer much mystery and the psychological elements which De Palma is normally a master of (look no further than Blow Out), isn’t very enticing either. I guess Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen excelled in their roles as Michael Caine, while not entirely remarkable, still manages to turn in a sufficient performance. With regards to the Blu-ray, the audio and video transfers are both OK as are the features including a very good documentary.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.