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Infatuated with the idea of becoming rich, college student Jonathan Corliss secretly dates Dorothy Carlsson to gain the approval of her wealthy father. When Dorothy tells Jonathan that she is pregnant and that her father will deny her inheritance if he finds out, Jonathan murders her, but he stages her death as a suicide. As Jonathan works his way onto Mr. Carlsson's payroll, Dorothy's twin sister, Ellen, investigates the apparent suicide.

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A Kiss Before Dying movie full length review - Matt Dillon: Rotten Filthy Murderer.

Philadelphia, in which this tale is set, is a city with plenty of history but absolutely no flair. According to E. Digby Baltzell, that's because Philadelphia was founded by self-effacing Quakers, while Boston was founded by pompous overbearing Puritans.

Take the University of Pennsylvania, from which Matt Dillon recently graduated. It's an Ivy League school chartered at about the same time as Harvard -- but who boasts of having gone to Penn? Nobody, that's who. The Main Line elite send their undergraduate sons to Princeton and only for post-graduate studies do they bring them back to Penn. Among the cognoscenti, I think the Wharton School of Finance at Penn is the equal of Harvard's Business School but so what? Quakers don't hold with prominence and celebrity. Even Benjamin Franklin, who FOUNDED the University of Pennsylvania, was born and raised in Boston. An athletic team of nearby Swarthmore once won a game. They were ashamed of it.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if that isn't a little off the topic. But that leads me to wonder exactly how much attention the topic -- this film -- deserves.

It's a confusing story. Dillon courts Sean Young, one of two identical twins, secretly. She's the daughter of uber-rich Max von Sydow, who hasn't got much more than a featured bit part in the movie. But then Young goes ahead and gets pregnant. Dillon's mental gears whirl. Young doesn't get along with her father to begin with. Maybe von Sydow will disinherit her if she admits she's pregnant. So Dillon does the only sensible thing.

He tosses Sean Young Number One off the top of a tall building and begins courting Sean Young Number Two, the identical twin. The couple marry and after that it's all down hill as far as originality is concerned. You've seen it before in a dozen films. The upright Sean Young gradually unravels the hidden and pathological past of the man she's married to. The story ends with the requisite chase, this time through crummy back yards and railroad tracks. Dillon has been stabbed with a knife but, as in all these cliché-ridden movies, that doesn't even slow him down. He is finally run over by a train loaded with copper from Young's family. This is known in some circles as poetic justice. You know, undone by the symbol of his own ambition? In my circle, it's known as adventitious. I have a feeling, based on the clumsiness of the writing and dialog, that no symbolism was intended. Sometimes a train is just a train.

Young is an interesting actress, stunningly beautiful in a Midwestern way, as if fed on corn and cream, and with a delightful little bump on the end of her model's nose, inviting a nibble. Given her off screen capers, who knows? Her voice sometimes betrays her. She sounds a little hoarse, like Debora Winger, and it comes out as phony for some reason. She has a splendid figure and was quite good in at least two films, "No Way Out" and a parody called "Fatal Instinct." Matt Dillon is interesting too. As an adult he was adequate in "To Die For" and in "Something About Mary." He had a dramatic role in the first and a comic role as a treacherous private eye in the second. Of course he's made some clunkers, including this one, where he is no more than a cardboard cut out of a homicidal psychopath. Every man has a right to give some poor performances but Dillon abuses the privilege.

The direction is pedestrian, the score derivative ("Silence of the Lambs"), and the locations are partly in England and Wales.

It's not an absolutely awful movie. It doesn't carry any message or insult the audience in some way. It's just not new. And if you're looking for a familiar pattern in which only a few mosaic tiles have been shifted around, you may find this soothing.