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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

Dressed to Kill

1980 | United States | 104 min | More...
A still from Dressed to Kill (1980)
C+: 3 stars (out of 5)
on Fri Dec 17, 2021

Angie Dickinson plays a middle-aged housewife with a dutiful husband and a precocious teenage son focused on a computer competition. But she is unhappy. She confesses her sexual frustration to her therapist, played by Michael Caine, then makes a failed pass at him. We then follow her to a museum, where she trolls for a pickup. When she leaves, we learn a black-gloved stranger is stalking her.

I won’t spoil more of the plot. Suffice it to say writer/director Brian De Palma litters his script with twists and turns. The biggest reveal proves obvious from the start, but ample smaller zigs and zags keep the journey engaging.

Despite the presence of Dickinson and Caine, De Palma’s formal rigour, inspired by Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, proves the star. De Palma crafts one tense set piece after another, including a memorable one set on a subway station.

But I hesitate to recommend the film. The script disappoints. Its perspective lacks the maturity and depth befitting its characters and subject-matter. As the story unwinds, it devolves into adolescent wish fulfillment. Not a bad thing per se, but for a film that purports to deal with adult issues, it undermines its credibility and emotional stakes.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Fri Dec 17, 2021 via Blu-ray (Criterion, 2015)