Kane, Irene (Chris Chase)


Kane, Irene (Chris Chase)
(b. 1933)
   In STANLEY KUBRICK’s second feature, KILLER’S KISS (1955), Irene Kane plays the female lead, Gloria Price, opposite JAMIE SMITH’s Davey Gordon. Gloria and Davey live in adjacent apartment buildings, and indeed they can see into each other’s apartment; yet they have never met, until one night when Davey comes to Gloria’s aid after hearing an argument between her and her boyfriend, the small-time gangster Vincent (FRANK SILVERA), who flees the scene.
   Davey falls for Gloria immediately and quickly professes his love to her, but she is too jaded by her years of hard knocks to believe him. When Davey asks how Gloria ended up working in a dance hall for Vincent, she tells him the story of her older sister, Iris (RUTH SOBOTKA) and their sickly father. Iris gave up a promising career as a ballet dancer to marry a wealthy suitor, so that she could pay her father’s mounting medical bills. Having sacrificed her career and finding herself married to a man she did not love, Iris was overcome with remorse when her father finally passed away. Shortly afterward, she committed suicide. Thus, Gloria was left alone in the world, and she took the first job she could get: as a dance partner in a New York dance hall, with Vincent all too ready to fill the role of father-protector. Davey convinces Gloria to leave New York with him, but Vincent proves a stubborn obstacle to their plans. Vincent kidnaps Gloria and tries to kill Davey, who eventually escapes, leaving Gloria behind for the moment. In the end, Davey kills Vincent in selfdefense, and he tells the police where Gloria is being held. The two reunite at Penn Station, where they presumably will take a train out of town together. Although the Daily News called her “no beauty by Hollywood standards,” Irene Kane does bring a frank, unadorned beauty to the character of Gloria, offering a touching riff on the stock character of the moll. Clearly, Gloria is a good woman who simply has fallen on bad times and gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd. She does what she has to do in order to get by in the cruel city, but she does not like it. She longs for a better life, but she does not dare expect it to materialize, even in the face of Davey’s love for her. She emerges as the film’s only really heroic character in the end, as she meets Davey at the station-despite the fact that he seemed to abandon her when Vincent held them both captive. She takes a chance that Davey’s love is real, and she forgives him, in an ending that is uncharacteristically happy for FILM NOIR and for Kubrick.
   Kane was working as a model in the early 1950s, when a photographer she knew suggested she audition for Kubrick’s film. She told the Newark Sunday News:
   The photographer brought Stanley to my house one day with a thick script. I literally crouched behind the TV set—I was so scared. Stanley said, “What a strange girl. ” He asked me if I wanted to read the Frank Silvera, Irene Kane, and Stanley Kubrick shooting Killer’s Kiss. (Kubrick estate) starring part. I took one look at the script and said, “I can’t do it!”
   He finally talked me into reading some of it, and when I’d finished he said—I guess in jest—Why, you’re going to be a great star!”
   Irene Kane made numerous appearances on the New York stage in the 1950s and ’60s, including the off-Broadway show Threepenny Opera, as well as The Ponder Heart on Broadway. She was cast in the Preston Sturges company of The Golden Fleecing, but Sturges and the cast were summarily fired 10 days into rehearsals, due to “differences with the producers. ” Kane had better luck with the Hal Prince/Bobby Griffith/George Abbott production of Tenderloin in 1961. Her other stage credits include the 1959 production of Gore Vidal’s comedy A Visit to a Small Planet, with Arthur Treacher. During the 1960s, Kane was best known for her recurring role in the daytime television drama, Love of Life.
   References
   ■ “Irene Kane: Jessica,” program notes for Tenderloin, October 1960;
   ■ Kane, Irene, “The Memoirs of a Nobody,” Herald Tribune:The L ively Arts, March 19, 1961, p. 3;
   ■ Little, Stuart W. ,“Female Lead in ‘Golden Fleecing’ . . . ,” New York Herald Tribune, January 7, 1959;
   ■ Masters, Dorothy, “Camera Builds Suspense Here,” Daily News, September 22, 1955, p. 71;
   ■ Smith, Bea, “Grateful for Break,” Newark Sunday News, August 9, 1959, E-4.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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