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Dressed to Kill (1980)

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A mysterious blonde woman kills one of a psychiatrist's patients, and then goes after the high-class call girl who witnessed the murder.

Director:

Brian De Palma

Writer:

Brian De Palma
Reviews
Popularity
2,807 ( 269)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Doctor Robert Elliott
Angie Dickinson ... Kate Miller
Nancy Allen ... Liz Blake
Keith Gordon ... Peter Miller
Dennis Franz ... Detective Marino
David Margulies ... Dr. Levy
Ken Baker Ken Baker ... Warren Lockman
Susanna Clemm ... Betty Luce
Brandon Maggart ... Cleveland Sam
Amalie Collier Amalie Collier ... Cleaning Woman
Mary Davenport Mary Davenport ... Woman in Restaurant
Anneka Di Lorenzo Anneka Di Lorenzo ... Nurse (as Anneka De Lorenzo)
Norman Evans Norman Evans ... Ted
Robbie L. McDermott Robbie L. McDermott ... Man in Shower
Bill Randolph ... Chase Cabbie
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Storyline

While taking a shower, Kate Miller, a middle-aged, sexually frustrated New York City housewife, has a rape fantasy while her husband stands at the sink shaving. Later that day, after complaining to her psychiatrist Dr. Robert Elliott about her husband's pathetic performance in bed, she meets a strange man at a museum and returns to his apartment where they continue an adulterous encounter that began in the taxicab. Before she leaves his apartment, she finds papers which certify that the man has a venereal disease. Panicked, Kate rushes into the elevator, but has to return to his apartment when she realizes she's forgotten her wedding ring. When the elevator doors open, she's brutally slashed to death by a tall blonde woman wearing dark sunglasses. Liz Blake, a high-class call girl, is the only witness to the murder and she becomes the prime suspect and the murderer's next target. Liz is rescued from being killed by Kate's son Peter, who enlists the help of Liz to catch his mother's ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Ela Pinta Os Lábios. Penteia Os Cabelos. Esconde Os Olhos Por Detrás De Óculos Escuros. Deixa Cair A Navalha Dentro Da Mala De Mão E Sorri... (Portuguese) See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 July 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dressed to Kill See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$31,899,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Sean Connery was offered the role of Dr. Robert Elliott by Writer and Director Brian De Palma, and was enthusiastic about this, but declined on account of previously acquired commitments. They worked together on The Untouchables (1987), for which Connery received an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. See more »

Goofs

The steps outside the Museum alternate between dry and wet. See more »

Quotes

Liz Blake: Do you want to fuck me?
Doctor Robert Elliott: Oh, yes.
Liz Blake: Then why don't you?
Doctor Robert Elliott: Because I'm a doctor and...
Liz Blake: Fucked a lot of doctors.
Doctor Robert Elliott: ...and I'm married.
Liz Blake: Fucked a lot of them, too.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the scene where Kate is brutally slashed to death with a straight razor by Bobbi in the elevator, the scene was also "slashed" to meet with the MPAA's requirements. In the original version, there were 2 extreme close-ups showing the razor slashing Kate on her right cheek and then gashing her neck. These shots were substituted with long shots of the killer assaulting Kate and one quick close up of her neck, immediately followed by another long shot, in order to avoid an X rating. See more »

Connections

References A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

The Forgotten Ring/The Murder
(uncredited)
Composed by Pino Donaggio
Conducted by Natale Massara
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
De Palma is in his element here.
5 January 2013 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

"Dressed to Kill" is an intense, dreamy, erotically charged thriller, and clearly another of filmmaker Brian De Palma's homages to the works of Alfred Hitchcock. It manages the neat trick of being fairly classy and rather trashy at the same time, as De Palma brings all of his directing skill to bear. This may not be his best but it's certainly one of his most well known, thanks in no small part to the excellent star trio of Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, and Nancy Allen; Allen, of course, was married to De Palma at the time.

Caine plays an eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Elliott, and Dickinson portrays Kate Miller, one of his patients who's not getting any sexual fulfillment in her life. Unfortunately, once she is able to experience an afternoon of passion the satisfaction is short lived, as a tall, cold looking blonde woman in sunglasses and trenchcoat slashes her to death with a straight razor. (This has to rank as one of the scariest ever elevator rides captured on film.) A witness on the scene is high priced call girl Liz Blake (Allen), who's accused of the crime after stupidly picking up the murder weapon. So she ends up working with Kate's son Peter (Keith Gordon) to try to identify the woman, who Liz and Peter guess to be another of Elliott's patients.

In the opening minutes of his film De Palma shows you what you're going to be in for, showing Dickinson pleasuring herself in the shower (intercutting shots of Dickinson with those of a body double) until a male stranger materializes behinds her and starts forcing himself on her. The combination of sex and danger is always stressed in this movie; as we will learn our killer has some severe psycho sexual problems. There are some highly memorable sequences, such as an extended seduction taking place inside an art museum, that being followed by a steamy coupling in the back of a cab. Other aspects that make it effective are Jerry Greenberg's editing (this was the man that cut "The French Connection", after all), Ralf Bode's widescreen cinematography, and Pino Donaggio's haunting music.

The actors each get an impressive showcase; both Dickinson and Allen look amazing to boot. Included in the cast are Dennis Franz as the investigating detective, David Margulies as the psychiatrist who explains everything for us in the end in case we didn't already get it, William Finley who does some uncredited voice work, and Brandon Maggart in a brief bit as a john.

Overall, the film has a definite ability to get under one's skin. It's often genuinely spooky and could easily shock more sensitive viewers due to the level of sexual frankness on display. While subtlety may be in short supply, it's hard to deny the ability of "Dressed to Kill" to manipulate us into a state of excitement and expectation.

Eight out of 10.


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