Dressed to Kill

July 25th, 1980


Dressed to Kill

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Still of Dennis Franz in Dressed to KillStill of Nancy Allen in Dressed to KillStill of Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson in Dressed to KillDressed to KillStill of Angie Dickinson in Dressed to KillStill of Angie Dickinson in Dressed to Kill

A mysterious, tall, blonde woman, wearing sunglasses murders one of a psychiatrist's patients, and now she's after the prostitute who witnessed it.

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 7.1/10 (12,222 voted)

Director: Brian De Palma

Stars: Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen

While taking a shower, Kate Miller, a middle-aged, sexually frustrated New York 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 glasses. Liz Blake, a high-priced call girl, is the only witness to the murder and she becomes the prime suspect and the murderess's next target...

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 - Warren Lockman
Susanna Clemm - Betty Luce
Brandon Maggart - Cleveland Sam
Amalie Collier - Cleaning Woman
Mary Davenport - Woman in Restaurant
Anneka Di Lorenzo - Nurse (as Anneka De Lorenzo)
Norman Evans - Ted
Robbie L. McDermott - Man in Shower
Bill Randolph - Chase Cabbie

Taglines: The Latest Fashion In Murder


Official Website: MGM |

Release Date: 25 July 1980

Filming Locations: 162 East 70th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $6,500,000 (estimated)

Gross: $31,899,000 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA: (R-rated version)

Did You Know?

Michael Caine's psychiatric office is located at 162 East 70th Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Continuity: When Kate gets into the cab after the museum there is a specific rate listed on the outside of the cab. When she gets out there is a different rate.

Liz Blake: I'm sorry, am I bothering you?
Hood #1: Naw, you ain't bothering me.
Hood #2: But you're bothering ME.
Hood #1: You say she's bothering you?
Hood #2: That's right, this bitch is bothering me.
Hood #1: Well, what you gonna do 'bout that?
Hood #2: I'm gonna kick her ass.

User Review

Stunning exercise in audience manipulation,possibly even MORE effective than it's model,Psycho


Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho may be one of the most influential movies ever-for a start it was at least partially responsible for the whole subgenre of 'slasher' movies and the shower scene has inspired more homages than you can count. Brian De Palma's thriller Dressed To Kill is basically a semi remake of Psycho,right from the structure of it's story to it's villain right down to certain specific scenes. It's also an absolutely stunning piece of audience manipulation and perhaps more importantly a cracking thriller. Watch this film knowing about the Psycho element and as long as you don't mind some graphic sex and violence you should have a whale of a time. In fact,to a modern audience it may very well be more effective than Psycho {and this is coming from a big Hitckcock fan}.

De Palma's intentions are apparent right from the beginning,which shows a naked woman, played by Angie Dickinson 'enjoying herself' in a shower,with huge close ups of her breasts {not Angie Dickinson's though}. A man suddenly surprises and assaults her. Than we cut to Angie and her husband having loveless sex on a bed. This whole opening sequence has it all-the Psycho reference,the slight twisting of that reference,the dreamy eroticism,the sudden shock,the surprise. It shows De Palma,more than anything else,playing with his audience,manipulating them like puppets on strings. Yes,like Hitckcock,but sometimes going further. Basically,if you like this opening sequence,you will enjoy the rest of the film.

While there definitely IS a plot {quite a familiar one,but you should know this by now},it is Dressed To Kill's set pieces that stand out,that show De Palma's brilliance. There's a dreamlike and subtly erotic sequence in an art gallery where Dickinson is picked up by a stranger,an incredible murder in a lift which is shocking without showing THAT much blood,a thrilling chase in an underground train station where the heroine is pursued not just by the killer but for a while by a gang of youths,a very scary ending about which I won't go into {except that it features another shower scene!}but where the tension is ramped up to an incredible degree. Here,De Palma is BETTER than Hitchcock.

Although the best scenes are those without dialogue,where De Palma just lets Pino Donnaggio's lush,darkly beautiful score take over the sound,there is quite a bit of fun to be had in the often deliberately humorous dialogue,and the really rather cute relationship between nerdy Keith Gordon and tough as nails Nancy Allen,who make a great team. The identity of the killer is not exactly hard to spot,perhaps more work could have been done here,but going by the cheeky attitude of the film in general this may have been intentional.

When Dressed To Kill originally came out it was heavily criticised for being misogynist,especially with the first third of the film {just in case you HAVEN'T seen Psycho,I won't go into detail}. I've always believed that this part of the film is about the possible dangers of indulging one's fantasies. De Palma is NOT a misogynist anyway really,think of the many memorable heroines of his films. Even if you disagree, see Dressed to Kill to see an oft criticised but occasionally brilliant director at the height of his powers.


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