Dressed to Kill

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“Dressed to Kill” is a thriller film from 1980, written and directed by Brian DePalma. The film is known for its intricate storyline, visually appealing aesthetics, and soundtrack by Pino Donaggio.

The story revolves around a disaffected woman named Kate Miller (played by Angie Dickinson), who seeks extramarital adventures to escape the boredom of her married life. After a sexual encounter at an art museum, Kate becomes the target of a mysterious assassin who follows her through the streets of New York. During the meeting, Kate is brutally murdered in the elevator of the building where she lives.

The plot develops around Kate’s sister Liz (played by Nancy Allen), a prostitute who unwittingly becomes involved in the murder investigation alongside a private detective named Peter (played by Keith Gordon). Together they try to unravel the identity of the killer, who turns out to be a psychotic transvestite played by Michael Caine.

‘Dressed to Kill’ is known for its homages to the cinematic styles of Alfred Hitchcock, especially the movie “Psycho”. De Palma uses distinctive visual techniques, such as split screen shots and complex camera movements, to build suspense and heighten tension. Pino Donaggio’s score underscores the film’s emotional climate, contributing to the tense atmosphere.

The film attracted controversy for some scenes of an explicit sexual nature and for the portrayal of the transgender character played by Michael Caine, which some critics considered offensive. Despite the controversies, ‘Dressed to Kill’ performed well at the box office and received positive reviews for its stylistically bold direction and the performances of the actors.

Overall, ‘Dressed to Kill’ is a film that delivers a blend of psychological thriller, suspenseful and homages to classic cinema, with a gripping storyline and visually appealing presentation. It is a film that has left its mark on the history of cinema for its distinctive style and bold narrative choices.




The plot of “Dressed to Kill” follows the story of Kate Miller (played by Angie Dickinson), an unhappy and frustrated woman who embarks on extramarital affairs to escape the monotony of her marriage. During one such encounter, Kate has a sexual encounter with a mysterious man in an art museum.

After the meeting, as Kate leaves the museum, she realizes that she has been followed by a mysterious woman in a raincoat. In a panic, she boards a taxi, but is overtaken by the woman who brutally kills her in the elevator of her residential building.

The story then shifts to Kate’s sister Liz (played by Nancy Allen), a young prostitute. Liz finds herself embroiled in the murder when she coincidentally witnesses the murder from the street. After being questioned by the police, Liz becomes the target of the killer, who realizes she may have clues as to the killer’s identity.

Liz teams up with an introverted young film student named Peter (played by Keith Gordon) to uncover the truth about her sister’s murder and to save herself. Together, they follow the killer’s trail, uncovering clues and crossing their investigations with those of a detective named Marino (played by Dennis Franz).

Throughout the film, various suspicions and intrigues emerge. The plot thickens when the character of Dr. Robert Elliott (played by Michael Caine) is introduced, a therapist who may be involved in the murder. The truth about the killer and his motives will only be revealed towards the film’s conclusion, in a climax full of suspense and shocking revelations.

“Dressed to Kill” is a tangled story of murder, mystery and intrigue, where the protagonists find themselves trapped in a deadly game with a psychotic killer. The plot unfolds through a series of twists and tense moments, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats until the final reveal.


Movie Characters


Here are some of the main characters from the movie “Dressed to Kill”:

Kate Miller (played by Angie Dickinson): An unhappy and dissatisfied woman who seeks extramarital adventures to escape the boredom of her marriage. Become a victim of the killer at the beginning of the film.

Liz Blake (played by Nancy Allen): Kate’s sister, a young prostitute who unwittingly becomes involved in her sister’s murder investigation. He teams up with Peter to uncover the truth and try to survive the killer.

Peter Miller (played by Keith Gordon): A shy film student who joins Liz on her quest to find the killer. He falls in love with Liz over the course of the film and becomes determined to protect her.

Dr. Robert Elliott (portrayed by Michael Caine): A successful therapist who becomes a prime suspect in Kate’s murder. His character turns out to be complex and intricate as the plot unfolds.

Detective Marino (portrayed by Dennis Franz): A police detective investigating Kate’s murder. Initially wary of Liz, he eventually teams up with her to solve the case.

Bobbi (played by Michael Caine): A mysterious character who is introduced throughout the film. His connection to the murders and his true identity are integral to the storyline and final reveal.

These are just some of the main characters in the film. “Dressed to Kill” features a diverse cast of characters who intertwine in a story of suspense and mystery.




The film ‘Dressed to Kill’ was written and directed by Brian De Palma, a director known for his visually appealing style and intricate storylines. It was produced by Filmways Pictures and distributed by Orion Pictures.

Production on the film began in 1979, with De Palma developing the film idea and writing the screenplay. The film’s budget was approximately $6.5 million.

The cast of the film included well-known actors such as Angie Dickinson as Kate Miller, Nancy Allen as Liz Blake, Keith Gordon as Peter Miller, Michael Caine as Dr. Robert Elliott and Dennis Franz as Detective Marino.

The film was shot primarily in New York City, with many scenes taking place in iconic locations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park. The cinematography was handled by Ralf D. Bode, who worked closely with De Palma to create the film’s distinctive visual mood.

The soundtrack of the film was composed by Pino Donaggio, who created an emotional and tense score that fits perfectly with the images on the screen.

“Dressed to Kill” was met with a mixture of positive reviews and controversy. The film was successful at the box office, grossing over $31 million worldwide. It became a cult film in the psychological thriller genre and helped solidify De Palma’s reputation as a director of suspense and tension.

Distribution and Reception

“Dressed to Kill” was released in theaters on July 25, 1980 in the United States. The film elicited mixed reactions from critics and audiences.

Critically, opinions on ‘Dressed to Kill’ have been mixed. Some critics praised Brian De Palma’s direction, calling the film a bold and stylistically refined homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers. Ralf D. Bode’s cinematography and Pino Donaggio’s score were also highly praised.

However, the film was controversial for its explicit sex scenes and portrayal of the transgender character played by Michael Caine. Some critics felt that the film was misogynistic and conveyed negative stereotypes towards women and transgender people.

Despite the controversies, the film performed well at the box office. It grossed over $31 million worldwide, far exceeding its production budget. Its daring combination of suspense, eroticism and homages to classic cinema has appealed to thriller-loving audiences.

Over the years, “Dressed to Kill” has become a cult film and has gained a reputation as a classic of the psychological thriller genre. His influence can be seen in a number of subsequent films which have tried to emulate director Brian De Palma’s style and suspense.

Despite the controversies, ‘Dressed to Kill’ has left a lasting imprint on cinematic history thanks to its stylistically daring direction, engaging soundtrack and the performances of the actors.


The style of “Dressed to Kill” is one of the film’s defining elements and reflects the influence of Alfred Hitchcock on Brian De Palma’s direction. The director used a number of visual and narrative techniques to create suspense, tension and a feeling of angst in the audience.

One of the main characteristics of De Palma’s style is the use of complex camera movements and split screen shots. These techniques are evident in scenes where simultaneous actions or different points of view are shown. For example, De Palma uses split screen to show both the killer and the victim during the murders, thus increasing the viewer’s tension and emotional involvement.

De Palma’s direction also focuses on the use of visual composition to create captivating and symbolic images. For example, the recurring image of the eye is used to suggest a sense of surveillance and voyeurism. Furthermore, the director plays with mirrors and reflections to create a feeling of duplication and duplicity.

The soundtrack by Pino Donaggio underlines the emotional atmosphere of the film. His melodramatic, sometimes romantic, sometimes sinister melodies help create a sense of tension and mystery.

The style of “Dressed to Kill” is also characterized by a visually appealing aesthetic. Ralf D. Bode’s photography captures the essence of New York City, with its contrasts between light and shadow, creating a feeling of metropolitan atmosphere.

Overall, the style of ‘Dressed to Kill’ is a mix of homages to classic cinema, particularly to Alfred Hitchcock, and Brian De Palma’s bold and distinctive visual vision. The film is notable for its elaborate direction, the use of striking visual techniques and the creation of an engaging suspense.


Curiosities and Anecdotes

Here are some curiosities and anecdotes related to the film “Dressed to Kill”:

Initially, Brian De Palma conceived the film as a kind of modern “Psycho” and used many themes and homages to Hitchcock in its development.

During filming, the director kept the identity of the killer a secret from the actors in order to create real surprise and a sense of genuine fear in their performances.

The famous elevator murder scene was shot using a body double for Angie Dickinson, the lead actress. This was done to preserve the surprise and to ensure the safety of the actress.

Pino Donaggio’s score for the film achieved great success and helped define the emotional atmosphere of the film. In particular, the track “The Shower” has become an iconic and recognizable thriller tune.

The character played by Michael Caine has been considered controversial and has sparked debates about the portrayal of transgender characters in cinema. Some critics felt her characterization was negative and hurtful, while others argued that she was a reflective representation of the themes of identity and desire.

The film was nominated for Best Editing at the 1981 Academy Awards. Although it did not win, it did win recognition for De Palma’s editing skills in creating suspense and rhythm in the narrative.

“Dressed to Kill” was a commercial success, grossing over $31 million worldwide, far exceeding its production budget.

These curiosities and anecdotes help to give an idea of ​​the production of the film and the reactions it has aroused. “Dressed to Kill” remains a much talked about and loved film for its visual style and compelling storyline.




The director of the film “Dressed to Kill” is Brian De Palma. Born on September 11, 1940 in Newark, New Jersey, De Palma is regarded as one of the most influential directors in contemporary cinema, known for his distinctive visual style and complex storylines.

De Palma studied film at Columbia University and began his film career in the 1960s, directing a series of independent film. His first significant success came with the thriller ‘Dressed to Kill’ in 1980 which helped solidify his reputation as a director of suspense and thrillers.

The director is often associated with themes such as obsession, voyeurism and duplicity, drawing inspiration from the works of directors such as Alfred Hitchcock. De Palma is known for his use of bold visual techniques, such as elaborate camera movements, split screen shots and long takes.

Some of his other most famous films include ‘Carrie’ (1976), ‘Scarface’ (1983), ‘The Untouchables’ (1987), ‘Carlito’s Way’ (1993) and ‘Mission: Impossible ” (1996).

Despite occasional criticism for his stylistic approach, Brian De Palma is considered one of the great directors of American cinema. His work is characterized by a distinctive visual aesthetic and engaging storytelling, often tackling complex and controversial subjects.



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