Two years later, Kelly (Constance Towers) gets off the bus in Grantville, an idyllic community. She meets Griff (Anthony Eisley), the local police captain, and after some blatant flirting, the two sleep together. Although Griff likes Kelly, he doesn't want "her kind" in his town and recommends she seek employment at a nice brothel "across the river."
|Kelly reflecting on her life.|
|Candy doesn't like the taste of money!|
While this plot summary may sound like a soap opera, The Naked Kiss is a wonderfully odd movie that constantly surprises its audience. Writer-director Samuel Fuller takes traditional film stereotypes (the prostitute with a heart of gold, the town "sheriff") and transforms them into vivid characters. We see Kelly interact with the children with compassion and tough love. Later, though, we see her violent side again when she takes matters in her own hands after learning that Candy (the aforementioned madam) tried to recruit a young nurse. She visits Candy a La Carte (yes, that's the name of the brothel), beats Candy with a handbag, shoves cash in her mouth, and warns her to stay away from the nurse. (This scene sets up a terrific later exchange in which Candy gets her revenge and ends with the retort: "Nobody shoves dirty money in my mouth!").
|Constance Towers as Kelly.|
Griff's concept of a wholesome town sets up the dominant theme in The Naked Kiss--that evil dwells in the shadows of even the nicest places. Fuller paints Grantville as a Thortonesque community only to later reveal a dark, disturbing secret. And although the townspeople are unaware of the evil that lurks among them, Fuller turns them into unwilling accomplices. When Kelly reveals the horrid secret, no one believes her--not even Griff--because of her scandalous past.
|A world of shadows.|
|The memorable opening sequence.|
However, there's much more to The Naked Kiss on thematic and stylish levels. The acting may be a mixed bag (though Towers and Eisley are quite good) and the running time could be pruned by a few minutes. Still, it's an absorbing film and one of the best cult films of the 1960s. Plus, it features a plethora of quotable dialogue, such as when Griff first ogles Kelly and remarks to another guy: "That's enough to make a bulldog bust his chain."