Dressed to Kill

Another Brian De Palma film !

I seem to be infatuated. I am yet to write about Femme Fatale movie that I saw sometime ago, also a Brian De Palma movie.

I always liked the retro look of the 1970s and 1980s NYC (New York City). This movie was released in 1980 and shows the modernizing face of NYC with all its skyscrapers, but the taxis and the dresses remind one of a bygone era.

I almost guessed who is the murderer in this movie, and that is no good. I would have expected the famed director to keep me on the tenterhooks till the very end of the movie. But certain camera angles give away the real suspect, especially the ever so passing emotion in the otherwise staid and unsocial good doctor Elliott so well played by Michael Caine. I was however, baffled by the non-existence of a stronger motive for the killing and attempted murder of the second woman. The explanation of transsexual conflict within Dr Elliott’s self crops up towards the end. But is that a strong motive for murdering a patient who was found to be sexually attractive by Dr Elliott ? There exists two personalities within Dr Elliott and they fight with each other over the same woman, I guess, to the extent that the “bad or evil” personality even leaves a voice message on the “good” personality’s – Dr Elliott – phone !

The grisly murder of Kate Miller in an elevator is a thrilling and spine-chilling scene as the elevator moves slowly from one floor to the other. The first sequence wherein Kate Miller goes down to the lobby floor and the second sequence wherein she rushes back to the apartment to retrieve her wedding ring have been taken with such finesse, it is hard to describe. The slow movement of the elevator, the small girl and the accompanying adult who step in during Kate Miller’s first journey down and the girl’s intense stare, the slow movement of the elevator back to the top floor, the slow opening of the lift door, and the completely unexpected attack on Kate Miller by a blonde lady with a knife………even now it feels chilling ! The shaking of the elevator, the door closing with the killer still inside, the door unable to open fully at the lobby floor with the slashed woman inside, wow !

Similarly, towards the end of the movie, Dr Elliott’s attempted murder (imaginary) of Liz Blake in the shower is also a thrilling take of freezing proportions. That it was just in the dreams of Liz Blake is not anticipated till the very end when she wakes up screaming.

“Dressed to Kill” is a classic crime thriller, a good one at that, though the story, in my opinion, is not that strong. But the way the movie has been designed and shot, the camera angles, and the chilling music score lead the viewer through an amazing couple of hours of high-quality movie.

Surely worth seeing ! Kudos to Brian De Palma !!


Vijay Srinivasan

21st June 2015


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