Stranger’s Kiss is a glowing homage to 1950s melodrama set in the film world. Though shot on a modest budget, picture has a lush look aided by strong artistic and technical contributions.
The love triangle tale is mirrored in both the real life and film-within-a-film structure of the production. Principals are Carole Redding (Victoria Tennant), a young woman kept by a gangster (Richard Romanus) who agrees to finance the film’s film and costar, Stevie Blake (Blaine Novak, who also cowrote the script), a hustler who soon becomes consumed by Carole’s mysterious background.
Stanley (Peter Coyote), the director, keeps Stevie in the dark to capitalize on his emotions. Both stories concern a boxer and a dancehall girl who fall in love but her past debt to a hoodlum threatens to destroy the relationship. Plot is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss and several other low budget items circa 1955, the setting of the picture.
Tennant is radiant as Carole with a genuine screen presence suited to her role. In sharp contrast, Novak has a forceful presence which demands our attention and eventually wins our affection.