KISS OF DEATH GIRL
Airdate: December 8th, 1960
Written by Harry Kronman
Directed by John Peyser
Produced by Alan Armer
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Special Guest Star Jan Sterling
Co-starring Mickey Shaughnessy, Robert H. Harris, and David J. Stewart. Featuring John Conte, Lester Miller, Joseph Ferrante, Celia Lovsky, Baruch Lumet, Wesley Lau
“On the night of September 8th, 1932, four trucks crossed the Canadian border at a remote spot and headed for Chicago. They carried a thousand cases of scotch, the McCoy. Value: over one hundred thousand dollars. Acting on word from a Canadian agent, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables were covering the highway outside of town. And seven or eight miles up ahead of Ness, someone else was waiting: Phil Corbin, owner of Chicago’s Club Continental. A man with ambition, tonight, he was expanding his operation. In charge of the convoy was a small-time mobster, Whitey Barrows, running the whiskey in for his boss, Lou ‘the Rooster’ Scalisi. Scalisi was a new power in Chicago. During the past year, he had cut himself a juicy slice of what used to be Capone’s personal pie.”
Convinced he can corner the market in high quality imported Scotch, small-time club Phil Corbin (Robert H. Harris) owner hijacks a shipment intended for his supplier, Lou “The Rooster” Scalese (David J. Stewart), and attempts to win the affections of a Francie McKay (Jan Sterling) who is known to frequently lose boyfriends to underworld catfights.
“Henny Combs did make it. Two months later, he was well enough to open a small cleaning establishment with Francie; Francie McKay, who used to be called the kiss of death girl.”
Jan Sterling guest stars in this wannabe heart breaker in which she roams sadly about, losing boyfriends as fast as they can be shot up for one reason or another, complaining how her men are only interested in her for her pretty face while displaying one seriously without charm. It is the eternal double-cross that does in the principle characters who, apart from Lou “The Rooster” Scalisi, are not particularly enthralling.
This episode feels like a first draft badly in need of a rewrite and highlights that it doesn’t matter how many hoods are running around if none of them are particularly interesting, dramatic, or cunning. This episode completely wastes the award-winning Sterling, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in The High in the Mighty (1954) and appeared in numerous film noirs a decade earlier as “cheap floozies, hard-bitten dames, and lethal schemers.”
While there are a few good lines in Harry Kronman’s script (Ness duping Scalese in his phone call is hilarious), this is the only one-star episode in the entire Second Season. Nonetheless, Kronman will quickly adapt to The Untouchables and author 17 episodes. Apart from Kiss of Death Girl, the rest of Kronman’s scripts are exceedingly memorable. His ultimate contribution will come in the form of the Second Season’s powerhouse season finale 90-Proof Dame.
CORBIN: You got no respect for the dead.
NESS: Sometimes even less than the living.
At the conclusion of each hour, The Untouchables teased each new episode with exciting trailers. These expensive little previews had their own theme music, often featured alternate takes of scenes, and sadly were completely absent in the so-called Columbia House’s “Collectors Edition” of The Untouchables on VHS and the subsequent DVD releases. Here, Stuart Fanning has preserved the ending of The Untouchables as it originally aired, complete with bumpers, commercials, and the trailer for “The Larry Fay Story.”
As a part of The Untouchables Retrospective, we’ll be archiving and publishing the trailers we can locate from the remaining 16mm prints of The Untouchables.
While there’s no record of a “Kiss of Death Girl” in American crime, the title was bestowed to a woman named Nellie Cameron, an Australian prostitute who consorted with various undesirables in Sydney in the 1920s and 30s, five of whom were targeted for assassination. What a heartbreaker.