Sam Fuller’s The Naked Kiss: Part III “Tell me where is the blue bird of happiness found?”

The Naked Kiss (1965) Part III Meaning it bares no emotion. It’s empty of real substance. It has the taste of perversion to it.


Working at the hospital while Kelly and one of the nurses are bathing the children Kelly notices that she is troubled and asks “Do you want to talk about it? Have you been to a doctor?” She has the intuition that the young girl is pregnant. Kelly instead of bringing the ‘plague’ to Grantville has brought insight and compassion to the women who are troubled in this provincial prison. In this way, the film can be viewed as feminist. She brings her strength and independence.

Crossfade, Kelly, and Grant are slow dancing at Grant’s house. Kelly tells him that she wants to talk about something, something she needs to get off her mind. “I’m afraid our dance is over.” Asks him to sit down and listen to the words. “When I came to this town, the first day I came… I was a prostitute. My first customer was my last one, next morning I quit. Now I’m in love with a man who’s the dream of every woman.” Grant is seated looking puzzled Kelly continues “Every woman who has the right to dream…but the man has got to stop seeing me before the volcano erupts.”

Grant looks up at her and grabs her hand. Pulls her close to him.“I love you Kelly.. .will you marry me?” She says “I’ve got to think it out.. .(now cheek to cheek) Oh I’ve got to think it out.”

Kelly’s in her room drinking from the blown Venetian glass from Venice that Grant gave her. She’s contemplating the marriage proposal. We hear a voice over, it’s Grant’s monologue “I wasn’t cut out to be a monk and you’re not the type to turn nun… but together we’ll prove our whole existence for each other, the only woman I want for my wife.”

Voice over by Grant “I wasn’t cut out to be a monk, and you’re not the type to turn nun. But together we’ll prove our whole existence for each other. You’re the only woman I want for my wife… If they condemn you for your past, I don’t want them for my friends. Kelly darling no one can forbid you your tomorrow. And I’m all your tomorrows. 

Kelly gets up from the bed, sighs and walks over to the tailor’s dummy, and asks “Charlie, what should I do?” Again we hear Grant’s voice “If they condemn you for your past, I don’t want them as my friends, Kelly darling…no one could forbid you tomorrow, and I’m all your tomorrows, all of them.” Kelly raises her glass and answers to Charlie “That’s right!…why should Grant want to marry a woman like me?.. .confidentially Charley, (her arm around the fake soldier now) we girls are always chasing dreams… why shouldn’t I have a right to catch mine?”

Now Kelly has an internal monologue “Many women had a past like mine, and they made out didn’t they?” She answers aloud asking the question “Or did they?… ah, of course, they did.. .and you know why because there was always the Rock of Gibraltar to give them strength” She raises the blown glass to Charlie in a toast “That’s what Grant is…The Rock…The Rock of Gibraltar.”

So Kelly needs a man to legitimize her self-worth, otherwise, she is still considered machinery. “Oh Charlie” now we hear Grant’s voice again “We’d be living an endless honeymoon” She goes back over to Charlie and hugs him “Oh Charlie, the dread of every woman in my business…is ending up alone…I know that world.”

She looks at the glass again and says “And I know his world( chuckles ironically) and that makes me a woman of 2 worlds… and that’s not good, or is it?” She looks at Charlie’s hat. She’s got her arm around his stuffed shoulders. “With him, I’m complete, a whole woman” the voiceover by Grant breaks in again “I’ll never strike at your past, not even with a flower” Kelly hugs Charlie closer, “Oh Charlie, Charlie Charlie, Charlie…what should I do?…”

Fade to Black.

in this look on Grant’s face, we sense something cold and unsavory deep-rooted in his soul. A removed reptilian hypothermic smile. It is not his fine breeding, it is something dark and unwholesome he keeps bubbling below the surface of his refinement.

At Grant’s house, the doorbell rings, and Kelly comes bursting in “Oh it’s a wonderful day Barney!… it’s a beautiful day!” Barney tells her that Grant is still asleep. She ignores him and yells “It’s a glorious day!” She goes to the stereo and puts on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and conducts. Barney still in his robe goes upstairs to get Grant. Kelly is conducting the music, she spins the large globe as if she’ll be able to see the world now.

Grant comes down in his silk pajamas, yawning and putting his robe on, he watches as she pretends to conduct the music. She runs to him and grabs his hands “I love you…it’s a deal” He looks oddly at her, pleased but more like he’s just sealed a business deal, not the reaction from a man truly in love. As they discover wedding plans he wants to send her to Paris to buy the most expensive wedding gown. Kelly has always paid for every stitch of clothing on her back. That tells you how independent she has been while working as a prostitute. Not taking any more than for her services to get by. Kelly has throughout shown to be a woman of integrity, thus the challenge in the narrative is to balance the conflict of judging her as a whore with morals.

Dusty gets help from Kelly. Who gives her $1,000 and tells her whether the guy marries her or not she is to keep the baby. Dusty tells her, “Boy or girl I’ll name it Kelly.”

Kip’s gaze, the sadness shared with a child, as he watches Dusty crying. Sympathetic.

Now nurses and orderlies are bringing in the children one by one. And a record begins to spin. Kip the little boy wearing the First Mate pirate hat begins to sing this song which has an eerily tragic poignancy.

“Mommy dear, tell me please, is the world really round” Another little boy takes it from there, “Tell me where, is the bluebird of happiness found” Now a little girl sings “Tell me why is the sky up above so blue” now they all sing in unison “and when you were a child, did your mommy tell you?

All of the children standing like wounded soldiers with their hats and crutches singing this sad little song together. The song creates an element of melancholy, and pathos in the film. It’s the children asking the question where is happiness?

The children are a diverse group of races, the spirit of these children fuels the film’s angst and alienation, for they are like castaways in a world that is perfect, while they are broken and striving to be whole.

“What becomes of the sun when it falls in the sea” “And who lights it again, as bright as can be” Together they sing again “Tell me why can’t I fly without wings through the sky” Back to Kip who sadly sings “tell me why mommy dear…are there tears in your eyes?”

Now Kelly joins in as an answer to the song’s questions singing “Little one, little one, yes the world’s really round, and the bluebird you search for is surely is found… and the sky up above is so blue and clear (the staff including Mac is watching Kelly serenade the children they are so sullen, yet proud) so that you’d see the bluebird if it should come near… and the sun doesn’t fall in the sea out of sight, all it does is make way for the moon’s pretty light… and if children could fly there’d be no need for birds… and I cry little ones cause I’m touched by your words.”

The children surrounding Kelly sing the song together, she has left a mark on them, she has found a different way to have worth, and she sees herself through these child’s eyes. They are ultimately truly innocent, yet they are the ones who don’t objectify Kelly.

“Tell me please Mommy dear is it true the world’s round, I will search, round the world til the bluebird is found” Then Kelly sings “Little one there’s no need to wander too far, for what you really seek is right here where you are.”

Griff and Grant are walking out of a building. Grant has asked Griff to be the best man at the wedding but Griff can’t fake how miserable he is. Grant tells him to get it off his chest. Bunny comes running over to Grant with her dolly and he picks her up and spins her around. Griff is still visibly upset, holding his cigarette and frowning. Bunny congratulates Uncle Grant on his wedding, and he kisses her cheek, she beams a smile half filled with baby teeth.

Now in the classroom back at the hospital, the children are getting a spelling lesson. Kelly is fixing Kip’s shoelace. Griff knocks on the window glass to get Kelly’s attention. Through the glass panel in the door, we see them talking seriously again a frame within a frame, symbolizing the entrapment of both characters who are stuck by their roles. They move into an empty room so they can continue to talk.

“Well, what is it Griff?… what’s the matter?” “Grant asked me to be best man… you’ve got 30 minutes to get out of town, (sighs deeply) and I don’t mean finding a bed at Candy’s across the river.” She asks if she can phone Grant, but he tells her he’ll tell him something for her. She says that he’ll roll with punch a lot easier if it comes from her. Grant agrees and Kelly picks up the phone and dials.

Griff has his back to her, he can’t even face her, playing with the chord of the blinds, while she’s dialing. She asks for Mr. Grant and looks at Griff. “I told him all about myself Griff and about you, and the $20.” Now Griff turns and faces her, she shakes her head “No, I did not identify you…and I told him my track record as a call girl before he asked me to marry him” Grant is on the phone now  “Hello darling…hold on a minute…Griff wants to tell you something” she shoves the phone at Griff.

“Hello Griff” we hear Grant speaking. Griff looks defeated. “I just wanted to tell you one thing, you’re the luckiest guy in the world, congratulations” She hangs up the phone, and Griff says “so that’s that’s the big score, fall in love with the right person, and being loved” he turns to her now, lightens up and says “I’ll be best man Kelly…lots of luck Kelly…lots of luck” he walks out the door. She grabs a toy sailing ship and the scene fades into the next.

Griff is strategically cast in shadow the light coming in from the window, Kellly in white off to the side looking slightly smaller in view. The frame is beautifully shot to create a sense of isolation between the two characters.

Miss Josephine puts Kelly’s beautiful white wedding dress and veil on Charlie. Then Kelly walks out of the house carrying a cardboard box with the wedding dress under her arm, Josephine comes calling after her, she’s forgotten the veil. Miss Josephine tells her “I still think it’s bad luck to show him the dress before the wedding… surprise or no surprise.”

We see Kelly walking from afar. Children playing jump rope, It’s a bright day in a clean town. A music box theme is playing, the tinkling of innocence. Then strings hover mimicking a nursery rhyme theme. Kelly passes the girls jumping rope, and a little boy on his tricycle comes near. Kelly is newly born as a child, a fresh start to her stained past. She pats the little boy on the head.

Kelly opens the front door to Grant’s house, tosses the key up in the air, and catches it with a triumphant grip. She belongs here. As she closes the door, and the house starts to become eclipsed in shadow, we hear the recording of the bluebird song, “Mommy dear tell me please, is the world really round” Kelly walks down the front hallway, then looks up the staircase for Grant. She hears the music playing. Still holding the box with the wedding dress, she walks over to the bust of Beethoven and rubs his head, embracing this new life she has earned. The camera pans down, we see the reel-to-reel recording of the song spinning in its wooden drawer.

She smiles, the memory of making that wonderful recording stays with her, she walks a little bit further into the room and turns around still smiling, a close-up of Kelly’s face, shows her expression turning to a withheld revulsion, then a close-up of a little girl’s blank face partially obscured by a dark shadow, suddenly skipping away into a stream of light like a runway towards the archway of the room, hopping and skipping then going out the front door.

The little tune still playing on the reel-to-reel machine. Close up on Kelly’s face more visceral anger now, and quickly a close shot of Grant’s face, it appears less like shame and more of a willful defiance, perhaps exultation that Kelly now shares the truth, expressed in his gaze. His eyes meet Kelly’s. A back and forth until Grant’s eyes seem to request understanding from Kelly. The song plays on “Why mommy dear, are there tears in your eyes” Kelly steps closer to Grant holding the wedding dress in the white box. Half of her face lit up and the other have eclipsed in shadow. Remember she said she was a woman who lived in two worlds.

As she steps closer, Grant’s face struggles to find some relief, he equates Kelly being a prostitute to his pedophilia- “now you know why I could never marry a normal woman… that’s why I love you… you understand my sickness…. you’ve been conditioned to people like me…” his eyes open wider “you live in my world… and it will be an exciting world!”

Kelly’s stone face holding his gaze, he kneels before her, looking up at her. She looks down upon him, and he begs “My darling…our marriage will be a paradise” She’s physically clenching her body as she looks at him, we still see her face but hear him continue his diatribe “because we’re both abnormal.”

Kelly now picks up the white phone and starts bashing Grant with the receiver. A harsh discordant piano plunk set against the bluebird song, clashes. She drops the white crepe material and it falls onto Grant’s still body. He lies there lifeless, covered in the wedding veil. The phone was off the cradle next to him. We see Kelly’s shoes. We hear the dial tone, Kelly kneels down clutching the veil, then rolls up the dress and veil placing it back in the box, her face never changing the stone-cold expression of betrayal, disgust, and disillusionment.

She closes the box and sits staring straight ahead. The shot is framed, with the globe(the entire world) left of the screen, Grant lying dead on the floor and Kelly sitting in the chair, with the only source of light mostly placed on her. A quick shot of the reel-to-reel, Beethoven’s bust, and the front door. Doorways in noir often symbolize an entry to the unknown or perhaps here it shows the idea of possibility for Kelly now closed. The dream ended. Fuller frames the shot with an odd angle of the stairs. Symbolic of Kelly’s ascension being distorted, not quite right from the beginning.

Stairways in noir again, are symbolic of ascension to an unknown place, possibly dangerous, Kelly once aspired to climb upward toward a better life. The stairs are shot at such an odd angle, that we must assume, the chance Kelly had was never a straight rise upward. It was merely a distortion of the chance to climb out of her role as whore.

Quick shot back to the door and then Kelly in the chair, as the shadow closes in

Fade To Black.

Then in sensational soap opera style, we see Miss Josephine outside, reading the headline. She shares the words, GRANT then Mike reads, IS and the rest is given to Mac to reveal for us, DEAD; One of the nurses is overlapped by the word, SLAIN, switches to Candy blowing out the inhale of her cigarette BY, Buff reads PROSTITUTE. Sensational strings dramatically playing all the while.

Kelly’s sitting in a chair at the police station, and she looks disturbed “Once before a man’s kiss tasted like that…he was put away in a psycho ward… (she grabs her dress by the chest, gives a gesture of revulsion) “I got the same taste the first time Grant kissed me”… (straining to say the rest) “it was a, what we call a (long pause) A naked kiss…(she puts her head in her hand clutching her hair, defeated and disgusted) “It’s the sign of a pervert.”

Kelly’s sobbing deeply, Griff gets up and walks onto the screen. “I’m gonna keep asking the same question until you tell me the truth… why did you kill him?” Kelly stares off, Griff is shot standing behind her.

“He was molesting a child” Griff comes and leans into Kelly and insists “he broke off the wedding,” she says “The child ran out,” Griff says “So you tried blackmail” Kelly cries, “he couldn’t marry a normal woman” Griff comes back “And he was going to have you pinched for extortion” she answers, “he said I would understand his weakness.”

Griff comes around leans on the desk and gets closer to Kelly, “Kelly, we’ve had 2 cases of ravaged children in our county…if by some freak they buy your story, that means the pressure will be off the real criminal he’ll be free to attack other children!!”….now do you understand why you can’t use that stinking lie to save your neck!” She slams her hand on the chair  “my neck is in that little girl’s hands!”

Griff asks Kelly to describe her, Kelly can’t remember, she’s in shock, everything was a blur. Griff argues that Kelly’s story stinks, that she can remember the conversation with Grant being called abnormal, but she can’t remember the child’s appearance. Kelly swears it’s the truth, Griff yells  “You swear on a call house roster!”

Now Kelly has to find that little girl who can identify Grant as her molester. Griff calls in Farlunde, Kelly’s pimp that she had bashed up in the opening scene. He’s going to be a material witness. Kelly explains to Griff why she had beaten him up, she convinced his girls to leave the stables, because he was holding out money from them. “You take the word of that leech!” She almost claws his face. “Look that parasite held out on me. Held out on all of us. So I got 6 of his best girls to walk out on him. To get even he spiked my drink with a knockout pill. And he cut off my hair!!!” Kelly lets out a desperate gasp and cries, I was bald! So I waited. I waited til he was drunk and I took exactly what was coming to me. $75 and not a penny more. He had his friends in the underworld. The word was out to throw acid in my face so I ran. For two years I worked only in small towns until I came here.”

Farlunde put knock-out drops in her drink and when she awoke, he had cut off all her hair, she was bald. She waited until he was drunk and took exactly what was coming to her. Kelly tells Griff that  Farlunde has friends in the underworld, the word was out to throw acid in her face, so she ran. Farlunde is going to testify that Kelly blackmailed an elected official. As far as Griff is concerned Kelly’s credibility is weakening with each character witness.

Dusty shows up to talk to Griff and explains that she’s left Mac and the hospital. She wants to help Kelly because Kelly helped her when she was having her baby. She took $1000 from Grant to help Dusty go out of town and have her baby. Kelly is now stuck in jail “Why don’t you try the old Chinese water torture maybe that’ll make me change my story.” Kelly tells Griff not to use Dusty as a hammer, it would kill her, and he wouldn’t be that low, even for a cop. But Dusty wants to give the story to the papers thinking it will help. Griff asks, “How much did you actually squeeze out of Grant?”

Kelly watches the children playing notices the shadow covers her mouth, Fuller’s use of the image shows how she is silenced, even behind the bars, she has no voice.

Kelly looks out at the children playing from her cell window. Then Candy shows up. Kelly tells Griff “I was waiting for that slut to show up.” He wants to know why Kelly went to Candy’s. Kelly says “You really scraped the sewer to dig up your character witnesses didn’t you.”

Candy stared at Kelly gleefully from the other side of the jail cell bars. She says in a gravel tone “I hate being a fink sweetie but you put every call girl in the country right on the spot.” Candy lies and tells Griff that Kelly came to her to form a Crime Ring, that she was taking healthy payoffs from Grant, to get him right where it hurts, family name, philanthropist, hospital, crippled kids, the whole deal. She tells Griff that she had Grant so scared that he was even making the wedding talk just to keep her quiet.

Open and shut. Griff asks Candy if she’ll say all that in court. She says why not it’s the truth. Candy- “Kelly you’re a new low in our business.” Finally, Kelly pipes in “She advanced Buff $25 to become a bonbon… I returned the money” gripping the bars. Then Candy says “Buff, who’s Buff? Griff says “a student nurse at the hospital.”

“Are you kidding, you know I don’t have to Shanghai girls from your town to replenish my stock… what kind of a stable boss do you think I am,” she struts over to Griff “I’ve got no time to break in baby baggage.”

Griff brings Buff to the precinct and asks if Candy advanced her the money to work in her stable. Candy’s eyes shoot bullets at Buff and Buff hesitantly says “No.” Kelly says “I made a mistake, the wrong girl,” Griff tells Buff he shouldn’t have bothered her. He walks her out and leaves Candy alone outside the bars of Kelly’s cell. Candy says in a deep wrathful tone “Nobody shoves dirty money in my mouth.”

Kelly is alone, framed by the bars, trapped, we hear children playing, laughing. Kelly looks out at the little girls. One little girl drawing with chalk on the wall says “Look what I made, look what I made” It’s the little girl that Grant was molesting.

Kelly grips the bars, and in a far off dreamlike distance we hear the bluebird song once again, Kelly starts to make the connection. There is an obvious shadow over her mouth, she has been struck silent so far. Kelly shouts out “Little girl please little girl I won’t hurt you, please come here.” But all the girls scatter. She calls Griff. Tells him that she just saw the little girl playing in the alley. “I remember the little girl.” She grabs his arm through the bars. “Griff you’ve got to believe me she’s 6 or 7, Blond.” Griff walks out.

Now Buff is lying in bed holding a photo of her father, and crying “Oh daddy I had to lie I couldn’t tell what I was going to be, forgive me forgive me.”

Knocking on the door. Griff gets out of bed to answer the door. It’s Buff. She asks him to let her in, she’s got to talk to him. Next, we see a parade of little girl’s legs walking from the knees down. Then we see Griff and Kelly watching from the window. She is shaking her head no, the girl is not one of them. A police officer is slowly showing them one by one, little blond girls, but Kelly still says no.

Then triumphant strings lift the moment up The little girl Bunny is standing there holding the doll Uncle Grant had given her, smiling up at Kelly. She tells Griff with gestures, we hear only the music, but we see by Kelly’s body language that it’s the right girl.

The little girl Bunny sits on a bench in the police station. Kelly walks over to her and asks “Do you remember me?” At first, she says no but then Kelly grabs her by the shoulders and says “of course, you remember me, you were at Uncle Grant’s house, you remember Uncle Grant don’t you? continues asking while shaking her. Kelly is crying and begging “Don’t you remember me?” pleading gripping her chest, begging the little girl to remember. “You know me!” The little girl gets up crying. Griff tells Bunny, “Now now Bunny nobody’s gonna hurt you I’m here.” Kelly is sobbing this was her last chance.

Griff asks Kelly “Did you ever have a baby? She says “No, I can’t have a baby,” Griff tells her, “Pretend you had a baby, pretend that that little child in the next room is your little girl, be gentle with her, well make her trust you, like you” Griff gently pats Kelly’s shoulder, “talk to her as you would your own child…not as Kelly…but as a mother.”

This was problematic for me, it takes the patriarchy that has partial responsibility for the systemic problems in Grantville to give mothering lessons to Kelly. Not as Kelly he says, because she’s a prostitute she has no sense of mothering? It absurd that she would need lessons from Griff. But I digress yet again. And don’t mistake my ire, I still love this film for being as daring as it is.

He brings Bunny back into the room. Kelly kneels down in front of Bunny. Bunny’s cheeks are wet with tears. She asks very slowly, and softly “Do you remember Uncle Grant?” Bunny says “Oh yes I love Uncle Grant, Mommy said he won’t be back for a long time,” Kelly asks “Did you ever go to Uncle Grant’s House without your mommy and daddy?” Bunny says “Once.” Kelly continues “do you remember when you went there?” “Yes ma’am Uncle Grant gave me some candy, he liked the dress mommy bought for me…he was showing me a new game, and he made me promise not to tell mommy or daddy or anybody because this was a special game….just for me…then you came in and I ran out, you’re the lady with the big cardboard box.”

Kelly breaks down and sobs and Bunny asks “Why are you crying, lady?” She brings Bunny close to her and hugs her tightly. Griff looks down, the reality of what Kelly had been telling him was finally sinking in. His friend Grant was a monster, and Kelly was not a liar.

Fade to Black.

Griffs in Kelly’s cell reading Penal Code 113A5 dismissal of an action. Griff is so pleased but Kelly looks bitter hugging herself to the jail wall, clenched like a fist. The judge and the DA gave her a clean bill of health. The whole town’s got her on a pedestal for what she did for the children. Kelly chuckles with irony. “Yeah, you sure put up statues overnight around here don’t you.”

Kelly asks Griff if her trunk is at the station, “well, thanks Griff” she bends in closer to his face, and they kiss. “So long tiger,” he says “Good luck Muffin” She steps out into the light and fresh air of freedom.

All the townspeople are standing outside waiting for her. Ominous music begins. The camera floats close up on various faces of varying ethnicities. Pull back, there are so many people standing there, waiting for Kelly to come out of the police station. She shoots a worried look at Griff who is leaning against the wall with another cop in uniform. Kelly turns to her left, there are Miss Josephine, Dusty, Buff, and Mac. Josephine crying and hugs Kelly, Mac is crying, Buff, goes over to Dusty and Dusty hugs her so tightly. Kelly has left her mark on the women of Grantville.

Wide shot of Kelly walking through the throngs of people from the community. Griff says to the cop, “She still owes me ten bucks” The cop says “Then you’ll be seeing her again” He shakes his head, “She never makes change” Kelly walks along the sidewalk, passes a baby carriage, then stops. she hands the rattle to the same baby she handed the bottle to at the beginning of the film.

The pariah has turned Heroine/Mother figure. Yet Kelly does not, or still can not be allowed to live amongst the clean people of Grantsville. She must remain in motion, without a place she can coexist with other “normal” people. She is destined to be in transition because she is damaged goods. Griff hasn’t learned anything…

Wide Shot of the crowd watching her off-screen. The music closes the film as Kelly from an aerial view is shown walking down that same street she arrived on the bus, getting smaller and smaller in view, from the Chamber of Commerce Banner. She walks off in the distance off-screen, the coda finishes and the screen goes dark.

The End

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