Kiss of Death

Synopsis: Small-time crook Nick Bianco gets caught in a jewel heist and despite urgings from well-meaning district attorney D'Angelo, refuses to rat on his partners and goes to jail, assured that his wife and children will be taken care of. Learning that his depressed wife has killed herself, Nick informs on his ex-pals and is paroled. Nick remarries, gets a job and begins leading a happy life when he learns one of the men he informed on, psychopathic killer Tommy Udo, has been released from custody and is out for revenge against Nick and his family.
Director(s): Henry Hathaway
Production: 20th Century Fox
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
99 min

Christmas Eve in New York.

A happy time

for some people... the lucky ones.

Last-minute shopping,

presents for the kids...

hurry home to light the tree

and fill the stockings... for the lucky ones.

Others aren't so lucky.

Nick Bianco hadn't worked for a year.

He had a record... a prison record.

They say it shouldn't count against you...

but when Nick tried to get a job...

the same thing

always happened:
"Very sorry."

No prejudice, of course,

but no job either.

So this is how Nick went Christmas shopping

for his kids.

Good afternoon.

Don't move.

Put your hands behind you.

- Come on.

- What about the safe?

We've got enough. Come on.

- Didn't you ring?

- Take it easy. I rang.

- Anybody out at four?

- Yeah.

This isn't the lobby, mister.

All right, miss.

Stand back. Stand back.

Everybody stand back.

Everybody stand back.

Stand back.

The same thing happened

20 years ago to Nick's father.

He died with a policeman's

bullet in him. Nick saw it.

It was one of his earliest memories.


- Shelby's here with Nick Bianco.

- Send 'em in, both of 'em.

Hello, Bianco. How's the leg?

All better, huh?

- Yeah.

- Sit here.

- You know who I am?

- What difference does it make?

- Never mind getting fresh, Bianco.

- You're the D.A.

Assistant. My name is Louis D'Angelo.

Let's see what we got here.

"Bianco, Nick. Age 29.

"At the age of 17,

burglary in the first. Plea: Guilty.

"Sixty days in the city reformatory.

"Four years later, grand larceny

in the first, charged.

"Convicted of grand

in the second at the trial.

"Two and one half to five years

in Sing Sing.

"Third charge:

Robbery in the first while armed.

Witness failed to appear. Case dropped."

By the way, how much do witnesses cost

on the open market now?

- How should I know?

- Do you know why you're here?

I'm supposed to squeal.

I want the names of those three men

that were with you on that job.

You know what you're gonna get on this rap?

Fifteen years. Maybe 20.

- Maybe I can help you.

- Look, you're wasting your time.

Those records you got there ain't complete.

It should say I was offered a deal by

another assistant D.A. If I squealed.

I took the full four years.

I'm the same guy now I was then.

Nothing has changed. Nothing.

I wouldn't say that, Nick.

Something has changed since then.

Seems to me I saw where the parole officer

reported here that...

you have two kids.

Two little girls.

That ought to change things a little.

You know, sometimes I think the doctors

are right, and that all crooks are crazy.

- Imagine a guy with two little girls...

- Shut up!

He don't like that.

How old are they?

You know, I'm always interested in kids.

I... I have four of my own.


- Can I take a look at your pictures?

- What pictures?

Pictures you got

in your inside coat pocket.

- Beautiful kids, Nick.

- Yeah, they're cute.

You know, a man's lucky to have kids.

But having a father like you

I wouldn't say is very lucky for them.

No, Nick, your kids

haven't had much luck.

I'll take care of my family... my way.

You mean by keeping your mouth shut

and going to jail?

You know why you're doing it?

Because you've got that good old

hoodlum complex... no squealing.

Desert your kids. Let 'em starve.

Let your home go to pot.

But don't squeal on some no-good hoodlums

who wouldn't turn a finger for you.

- I hate crooks.

- Then why are you wasting your time on me?

Because any guy that could have two kids

like that isn't a crook.

Crooked, yes. Stupid, yes.

On the wrong foot, yes.

But he isn't one of those mugs

that don't belong to human society.

Those are two normal,

decent little human beings.

- Give me that!

- And no crook could make 'em that sweet.

- No play ball, eh?

- No!

- You're coming up before Judge Halstead.

Do you know him?

- Yes.

- He'll throw the book at you

if you don't cooperate.

- No deal.

See you in court, Bianco.

- Attorney for Nick Bianco?

- Yep.

This way, please.

- How are you, Nick?

- How do you do, Mr. Howser?

I'm fine, son.

Sit down, son, sit down.

Well, we meet again, Nick.

Fortunes of war, eh?

I, uh... I hear you had a long talk

with Mr. D'Angelo.

- You don't have to worry.

- Good. Good. Your word's all I need.

- Did the boys pay you?

- Everything's been taken care of.

Now, uh, I don't want you

to expect very much in court.

- We've got no defense at all.

- So what do I do?

Nothing. Trust me. Even when Halstead

hits you with the book...

stand pat, rely on me.

I begin to work then.

- On the parole?

- Yes.

It may take a while, but

I'll have you out in no time.

- Did you see the missus?

- I talked to her on the phone.

- She'll be in court.

- Thanks.

Are the kids all right,

do you happen to know?

- They're fine.

- Good.

You can rely on me, Nick.

- Same goes for me, Mr. Howser.

Thanks for everything.

- Good-bye.

Look at that cheap squirt

passing up and down.

What for?

They have to keep passing up

and down here all the time?

For a nickel, I'd grab him...

stick both thumbs right in his eyes...

and hang on till he drops dead.

- You're Nick Bianco, ain't you?

- Yeah.

Howser was telling me.

You're a big man.

I'm Tommy Udo.

- I've heard of you.

- You did, huh? Huh.

Imagine me in on this cheap rap,

big man like me.

Picked up just for

shoving a guy's ears off his head.

Traffic ticket stuff.

Hello, Bianco. You got a minute?

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Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht (1894–1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist and novelist. A journalist in his youth, he went on to write thirty-five books and some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. He received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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