Smith, Jamie

Smith, Jamie
   In KILLER’S KISS (1955), the second feature by STANLEY KUBRICK, Jamie Smith portrays Davy Gordon, a boxer on the wrong side of 30 whose career has taken a downturn. After a particularly brutal defeat, Davy decides to leave New York City and accept his uncle’s offer to come and live on his farm near Seattle. As is always the case in FILM NOIR, fate steps in, threatening to upset Davy’s plans and perhaps to ruin his life.
   One evening, Davy looks out his apartment window and sees into the building across the way, where a violent scene is brewing between Gloria Price (IRENE KANE) and her boyfriend, the small-time hood Vincent (FRANK SILVERA). Davy rushes over to the rescue, and although it is the first time he has met Gloria, he soon falls in love with her. Inevitably,Vincent learns of Gloria and Davy’s plans to leave town together, and he tries several times to injure and even to kill Davy. In an unusual departure from noir conventions (and in a rare turn for Kubrick), the film ends happily, with Vincent dead, and Gloria meeting Davy at the last minute to catch that train out of town. The New York Daily News said that, in Killer’s Kiss, Smith “handles himself well in a role involving both mental and physical friction. ”
   Jamie Smith was born in Paradise, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County. He studied drama at Carnegie Tech and he graduated after a stint with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. From 1947 to 1948 he was a member of actor José Ferrer’s theatrical company, and his stage credits include road companies of The Glass Menagerie, All My Sons, Anastasia, and Joan of Lorraine. Smith’s first Broadway appearance was in Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley. He was approached by Tennessee Williams and Bill Liebling to replace MARLON BRANDO in A Streetcar Named Desire, but Smith turned them down, as he felt no other actor could possibly fill the role. He went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, and while there he acted as assistant director and narrator for a number of documentary films. He also joined Orson Welles’s company, appearing in Faust and Blessed are the Damned on the Paris stage, and in Welles’s film version of Othello. In 1951 producerdirector Josef Leytes signed Smith to his first starring feature-film role, the romantic lead in Faithful City. In that film (the first all-English production made in Israel) Smith portrays an American who takes a job helping children who are victims of the war. Jamie Smith appeared on television in many of the major New York shows of the 1950s, including Kraft Television Theatre and Schlitz Playhouse. During that time he also acted in numerous dramatic shows for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
   ■ Gross, Ben, “Televiewing and Listening In” New York Daily News, June 7, 1952;
   ■ “Jamie Smith (Dr. Sirensky),” The Playgoer (Anastasia),May 29, 1956;
   ■ Masters, Dorothy,“Camera Builds Suspense Here,” New York Daily News, September 22, 1955, p. 71;
   ■ Prince, Don, “Jamie Smith,” from press book for Faithful City, RKO Radio Pictures, 1952.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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