By KJ Hamilton
Kiss of Death – dir. Henry Hathaway – 1947
It all began with an act of desperation: a jewel heist at Christmastime. Nick Bianco (Victor Mature) was an ex-con with a record a mile long, but the most important thing to him was his family. Unable to secure a job, he returned to his old ways in order to have money for Christmas gifts for his family. He was caught, and refused to rat out his partners in crime—on the promise that those partners would take care of his wife and two daughters. Bianco meets an interesting character, Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark), whose laughter is nowhere near as infectious as it is scary. Months go by, and Bianco learns that his family has broken apart as a result of his wife’s suicide. He decides to make a deal with the assistant district attorney, Louis D’Angelo (Brian Donlevy), and is eventually granted parole. He remarries and, with D’Angelo’s help, secures a home, a job, and a different last name. Bianco not only squeals on his partners in crime, he also relates back information that helps to pin Udo as the prime suspect in a murder case and takes the stand at trial. But, when the prosecution’s case falls apart, Bianco is forced to square himself with Udo. There’s only one way to catch a killer: red handed.