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154 Ratings

Pretty Poison

Directed by Noel Black
United States, 1968
Crime, Romance, Thriller


Dennis Pitt, who at 15 set fire to his aunt’s house and burned her alive, years later is released from a mental institution. His parole officer finds him a job at a chemical plant in a small Massachusetts town, but it’s clear from the get-go that Pitt isn’t quite playing with a full deck.

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Pretty Poison Directed by Noel Black

Awards & Festivals

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

1968 | Winner: Best Screenplay

1968 | 2nd place: Best Actress

…The picture is wonderfully transgressive and deeply strange. And Weld… she is charming, scary, beautiful and sickly erotic. It’s a daring performance by a young actress unafraid of scaring those who desire her; an actress intelligent enough to know her kinkiness will also thrill men and women. Perhaps, especially women. “Let’s do something exciting” says Weld’s seventeen-year-old. Exciting is one word for what she does with all this gleeful evil.
August 27, 2013
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Even a pat, movie-of-the-week wrap-up can’t diminish Pretty Poison’s central performances. Dear friends in life, Perkins and Weld were simply able to tune in to each other’s frequencies, here as in the dangerous symbiosis of their 1972 collaboration, Play It as It Lays. Like any good study in couple’s psychopathology, a familiar relationship is visible here, but in a parodic, mutated form.
February 01, 2012
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Director Noel Black, in his first and only celebrated feature, has the era’s typical zooms and second-long flashbacks (to Dennis’s burning youthful home) in his arsenal, but utilizes his leads’ strengths in making Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s dialogue, adapted from a novel by Stephen Geller, play as a cracked, baroque duet.
January 31, 2012
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