Dressed To Kill is another in a long line of classic films from Arrow, being released on Blu-ray for the first time, and which I hadn’t seen before in any form.
When it comes to this Brian De Palma movie, however, it is the first time it has ever been released uncut in the UK. The extras show the amount of violence and sex which was trimmed from both the R-rated and network versions in the US – for example, in both, the censors took exception to a neck-slashing, but it’s not clear exactly what was cut in the UK.
Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) is seen going to see therapist Dr Elliott (Michael Caine) and discusses sleeping with him because the sex life with her own husband is boring. Elliott doesn’t want to know because he says he doesn’t want to jeopardise his marriage, but not to worry as she cops off with a bloke who’s visiting the local art gallery instead, and without a word spoken between them, she has a rather fun afternoon.
While the plot and structure of Dressed To Kill will be well-known to a lot of people, I don’t want to give any spoilers or much description here as it was all new to me. So, when it comes to the murder, there are, quite frankly, some movie characters who simply deserve to be killed. Why? Because when faced with what they believe to be the inevitable, they just sit or stand there, complain and wait for it to happen, not even attempting to fight back.
Also, earlier on, watching Angie Dickinson soap herself up in the shower at the start of Dressed To Kill made me think… how come her make-up didn’t run?
Elsewhere in the cast, Nancy Allen plays a hooker who’s partially a witness to the murder and, as a result, her life is in danger. The only person who can possibly help her is Peter (Keith Gordon), Kate’s son. Naturally, Kate does have a husband but he’s a useless sack of nothing that seems completely absent the whole time – why?
And seeing Dennis Franz, here as Detective Marino, crop up on another De Palma film makes me want to go back and check out NYPD Blue, which I never saw first time round, but he was just perfect in Die Hard 2 as Captain Carmine Lorenzo.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in anamorphic Panavision, which gives everything a convex look at the edges and works well to heighten the tension when required. The print has a bit of a glossed look to it – perhaps a bit soft, but that appears to be more like the way it was filmed and is not a major problem with this release.
There’s a number of split-screen moments, especially in the police station, around 40-45 minutes in, where both foreground and background are perfectly in focus, such is the way of De Palma’s camerawork.
The sound has a DTS HD 5.1 option, but while I selected that, I didn’t spot any scenes where it was used and it felt like I was listening to a standard stereo soundtrack.
The extras on this disc are as follows – most of which are in HD, too. Note that these extras include spoilers about the Dressed To Kill and, sadly, none are chaptered:
- Symphony of Fear (17:36): Producer George Litto talks about working the film and its inception. Litto does tend to ramble, though.
- Dressed In White (29:53): Angie Dickinson talks about her role in the film. Naturally, she’s not quite looking as she used to, but we all age with time. She talks about the body double for her shower scene as well as going into detail about how her character was bumped off. I really enjoyed hearing her talk here.
- Dressed In Purple (23:04): Here, it’s Nancy Allen’s turn to speak. I still don’t get why she’s much of a draw, but then she was married to this director for a few years at the time, so that explains why her role was written for her.
- Lessons in Filmmaking (30:45): Another in-depth interview, this one with Keith Gordon.
- The Making of a Thriller (43:53): Presented in 4:3 SD, and made as far back as 2001, this piece also features chat from De Palma and Dennis Franz, both of whom have been absent from these extras so far.
- A Film Comparison (5:14): Angie Dickinson’s shower and murder scenes, comparing the Unrated to the R-rated version, as well as a clip from the TV version. Oh dear, I hate censorship! There’s also a later, descriptive scene between Allen and Caine.
- Slashing Dressed To Kill (9:49): Also in 4:3, here is more discussion on the censorship, some of which has been shown in the previous extra.
- Original trailer (2:10): Presented in 16:9.
- Gallery: Containing 20 images.
The menu features clips from the film playing with the theme playing in the background.
There are subtitles in English, but for this Special Edition the chaptering is anything BUT special with the usual 12 that so many films get these days. Very lazy.
Running time: 105 minutes
Released: July 29th 2013
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Brian De Palma
Producers: George Litto
Screenplay: Brian De Palma
Music: Pino Donaggio
Dr Robert Elliott: Michael Caine
Kate Miller: Angie Dickinson
Liz Blake: Nancy Allen
Peter Miller: Keith Gordon
Detective Marino: Dennis Franz
Dr. Levy: David Margulies
Warren Lockman: Ken Baker
Betty Luce: Susanna Clemm
Cleveland Sam: Brandon Maggart
Cleaning Woman: Amalie Collier
Mike Miller: Fred Weber
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.