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Kiss of Fire (1955) Online

Kiss of Fire (1955) Online
Original Title :
Kiss of Fire
Genre :
Movie / Adventure / History / Western
Year :
Directror :
Joseph M. Newman
Cast :
Jack Palance,Barbara Rush,Rex Reason
Writer :
Franklin Coen,Richard Collins
Type :
Time :
1h 27min
Rating :
Kiss of Fire (1955) Online

In 1700, news that the king of Spain is dying comes to the Spanish outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For some reason, lovely Princess Lucia, the preferred heir, is in this remote location. To get her back to Europe without running afoul of the Viceroy of Mexico (who backs another heir) will require a guide friendly with the Indians: outlaw El Tigre, whom the princess (initially) despises. The highly hazardous journey is made more so by presence of turncoats in the group...
Complete credited cast:
Jack Palance Jack Palance - El Tigre
Barbara Rush Barbara Rush - Princess Lucia
Rex Reason Rex Reason - Duke of Montera
Martha Hyer Martha Hyer - Felicia
Leslie Bradley Leslie Bradley - Baron Vega
Alan Reed Alan Reed - Sergeant Diego
Lawrence Dobkin Lawrence Dobkin - Padre Domingo
Joseph Waring Joseph Waring - Victor
Pat Hogan Pat Hogan - Chief Pahvant
Karen Kadler Karen Kadler - Shining Moon
Steven Geray Steven Geray - Ship Captain Bellon
Henry Rowland Henry Rowland - Acosta

Rhonda Fleming was originally cast as Princess Lucia but she withdrew from the film due to a scheduling conflict.

User reviews



This half-western, half-costumer follows what might be called the "escort" formula. In this formula a person of some importance, often a woman, is escorted through difficult territory toward a destination which must be reached by a certain deadline. Various enemies along the way try to thwart this effort, and there usually turns out to be a covert traitor within the ranks of the escort-party. In most cases the leader of this party is a rough-edged man of action who resents his assignment but who is determined to carry it out successfully. If he's escorting a woman, there's usually a high degree of friction between the two which gradually turns into a romance. The destination is finally reached on time after much tribulation and the man of action and his beautiful charge embrace and kiss as "The End" appears on the screen.

"Kiss of Fire" sets this formula in the year 1700 and it follows the course of an expedition from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Monterey, California. This affords an opportunity for a number of outdoor episodes set against scenic backgrounds which alternate with a score of more intimate moments filmed inside studio sets. None of this comes across as realistic but the color photography, costumes, and always-attractive cast members provide the kind of escapism which has always made the movies so appealing.

Where "Kiss of Fire" differs from the usual formula, and then ever so slightly, lies in the choice of its leading man. At this point in his career, Jack Palance had become best known as a villain -- particularly because of his work as the heartless gunfighter in "Shane" -- and casting him as the-man-who-gets-the-girl must have seemed like a daring choice. This is even more apparent when young, handsome Rex Reason, whom Universal was grooming for stardom, appeared in the same cast. Why not have Rex get the girl?

Movie heroines often find themselves torn between a suave, wealthy, well-dressed suitor on one hand and a rough-and-tumble rebel on the other. "Kiss of Fire" falls into this pattern but, throughout most of its length, tends to hedge its bets. Often the suave suitor, (in this case Rex Reason), is shown to the audience as being shallow and opportunistic -- traits which the heroine does not initially recognize. However, Rex seems immune to these faults until the last reel when his character takes a sudden turn for the worse and thus proves unworthy of winning Barbara Rush. Instead he's quickly and all-too-conveniently paired with second-billed Martha Hyer whose character, up to this point, had never shown much romantic interest in him. Meanwhile aristocratic Barbara Rush abandons her trip to claim the throne of Spain and implausibly chooses to settle down in California with an unpolished frontiersman who lives in Indian villages.

One suspects that Universal had doubts about audiences accepting Jack Palance as a leading man and perhaps tested "Kiss of Fire" at a number of "sneak previews." Had these previews not gone well, Universal may have planned to re-edit the last reel of the movie so that Barbara Rush would tearfully part from Jack Palance -- "We come from different worlds" -- and then board that boat for Spain on the arm of the stalwart Rex Reason. After all, it wouldn't take much editing to rehabilitate Rex into the kind of lover worthy of the heroine's affections.

One final note. Can you imagine how difficult it would be for a movie such as "Kiss of Fire" to be made today? No studio now would touch a project set in Spanish-America, circa 1700, unless a director with great clout and a star with proven, world-wide boxoffice appeal were attached to the project. But back in 1955, movies like this with colorful historical backgrounds were turned out all the time, making the movies a far richer medium than they are today.


Set in Spanish New Mexico in 1700, this wonderful Technicolor production is full of romance, intrigue, action and adventure. The three principals in the cast, Jack Palance, Barbara Rush and Rex Reason, all shine in this studio vehicle for star Jack Palance, who is terrific in the lead role, with style, sex appeal, and a good Spanish accent. (In real life, Palance is full-blood American-born Russian-Ukrainian, his real name is Vladimir Palanuik. He speaks six languages.) Rex Reason, looking very handsome and distinguished in a real mustache and beard, was especially good in one of his better costume character roles as the Duke of Montera, viceroy of the Spanish territories, sent to accompany Princess Lucia by the Spanish crown; Reason took lessons to learn how to swordfight from Basil Rathbone and had a fine swashbuckling action scene in a fight with Jack Palance's El Tigre. Good but typical melodramatic plot development as the Duke is in love with Lady Lucia but is unable to express his love for her, while El Tigre smolders with passion in every scene. Lovely Martha Hyer is on hand in beautiful period costumes as well. Filmed partly on location in the southwestern deserts, but mostly studio-bound, this was a lavish and colorful Universal costume drama. A fine, rousing adventure and a fiery romance. Sadly, many Universal pictures of the 1950s and 1960s are still unavailable on home video. Universal should be ashamed of themselves for not releasing this great film on video, and DVD as well.


Romantic historical adventures were a dime a dozen during Hollywood's Golden Age but what this 1950s example has going for it over its many competitors are the unusual setting (the Spanish Armada circa 1700) and the central presence of an anti-hero, notorious bandit El Tigre (a role which also provided typecast Jack Palance with his first opportunity to be among the costumed good guys)! His dubious services are deemed essential by Viceroy Rex Reason to enable Princess Barbara Rush's imperiled return home from exile in California to claim her rightful place on the throne of Spain; Palance's no-nonsense pragmatism hardly endears him to an already reluctant ward but, true to formula, they will be whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears before the film's conclusion…not that the overly suggestive title left any serious doubt about that occurrence!

What strikes a false chord, however, is the fact that in going away with Palance, she relinquishes her title and presumably agrees to settle into some remote Indian hideout El Tigre has made his home in! That is all very idealistic but hardly convincing given the real stakes at play here...especially when these are bound to be left in the hands of the unreliable Reason and Rush's suddenly loving (read opportunistic) cousin Martha Hyer! Speaking of Reason, he had just worked with director Newman (who, 20 years previously, had been a two-time Oscar winner as Best Assistant Director!) on both their most significant work, the Sci-Fi classic THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955); this fact makes the former's relegation to the second lead once more and, consequently, the latter's potentially backfiring choice to go with bad-guy Palance in the lead, as an even bolder one! Ultimately, for all the modest felicities on offer along the way, one is left with the distinct impression of an unfulfilled promise – as if what we have just witnessed was a textbook Swashbuckler with a Western restlessly waiting to break out from under its restrictive surface!


This 1955 Universal color film is very much within the tradition of the historical romance novel and film. First, I will comment on the validity of the historical and geographical aspects........Charles II of Spain did indeed lay dying in 1700, as the film claims. Since he was childless, there was much dispute over his successor. In fact, The War of Spanish Succession, which involved many European principalities was fought, resulting in the dismemberment of the Spanish empire within Europe. Historically,, there was no Princess Lucia, as in this film, in competition for the Spanish crown. The Princess is sited in Santa Fe, present NM, which seems a very strange place for her to be, in the isolated northern frontier of Mexico. Apparently, she was exiled here for an unclear reason. Santa Fe did, indeed, exist in 1700. However, she and her entourage traveled to coastal Monterey to board a French ship for Spain. The problem is that Monterey, as a Spanish outpost, didn't exist until1770! And if it had existed in 1700, it's very unlikely that a French ship would be docking there. A band of Comanche was said to have attacked them somewhere in Nevada or eastern California. Well, the Comanche were most famous as a scourge in Texas, ranging as far west as eastern NM. So, if Comanche, they were way out of their normal range. Much more likely, they were Paiute. In fact, soon after, they did contact some Paiute, who were initially friendly. But they became warlike after their chief, Pahvant, was killed by knife after he wanted to trade Shining Moon for Princess Lucia. It's very unlikely that these Paiutes would have chased the expedition or a Spanish military group wanting to kill Lucia(Barbara Rush), across the Sierras, then across the Central Valley, to coastal Monterey! ........The main thread of the plot is the gradual transformation of hate between Lucia and the dashing roguish El Tigre(Jack Palance), who apparently voluntarily exiled himself to this desolate country for some dispute or action in Spain. By the second half of the film, they occasionally kiss, one of which we might dub the Kiss of Fire. Eventually, Lucia proposes that El Tigre go to Spain with her and become her royal consort. But he says he can never return to Spain, and wouldn't like the lifestyle. Well, Lucia is so taken with El Tigre that, near the end of the trip, she tells her guardian Montera((Rex Reason) that she has decided not to go to Spain! But Montera wont stand for this decision, and locks her in a room on the French ship which soon will sail. But, El Tigre manages to get on the ship and fight with Montera, beating him, but hesitating to kill him. With the French captain's aid, El Tigre opens the door, and takes Lucia to shore in a rowboat, as the French ship prepares to sail. Lucia's cousin, Felicia, who has been serving as Lucia's handmaiden, was also locked in that room, and sails with the ship. There is a hint that a romance may develop between her and Montera........ Baron Vega, military commander of the expedition, and his accomplice, Acosta, who leads a military force, both want to kill Lucia or otherwise prevent her from reaching Spain, favoring someone else to inherit the throne. Montera finally realizes that Vega is a traitor and kills him in a sword fight. But, as I have said, later,Montera becomes the main villain, in opposing Lucia's wishes.........On the whole, it's not a bad film, other than the several historical bloopers I pointed out. Also, I wasn't very comfortable with Palance being the hero. He had mostly played villains, and seemed better suited for such.