The Honeymoon Killers
True crime has often served the cinema as inspiration and subject, but rarely has a film so perfectly captured the sordid and melodramatic world of its protagonists as The Honeymoon Killers. Known as the Lonely Hearts Killers, Raymond Fernandez, a balding lothario, and Martha Beck, an obese nurse, met through the personal ads; posing as brother and sister, the lovers used the same ads to win the trust of lonely widows whom they robbed and sometimes murdered. The pair were electrocuted in Sing Sing in 1951 following a highly publicized trial and imprisonment during which Fernandez received thousands of letters from his female ‘fans’, including numerous marriage proposals. The only film directed by Leonard Kastle, a composer of modern operas, The Honeymoon Killers was made for $150,000.00 and largely shot on location in Upstate New York. Featuring grainy black-and-white cinematography, garish lighting, unglamorous actresses and a musical score drawn from Mahler symphonies, the film has an hallucinatory realism completely in sync with its tabloid origins. Perhaps most striking is Kastle’s depiction of his protagonists as figures of grand opera, whose obsessive passion drives their heinous deeds. As The New York Times noted in its recent obituary of Kastle, on its initial release the film "stunned moviegoers and critics. Brutal, unblinking and ruthlessly honest, with a powerful undercurrent of black comedy, it quickly earned an exalted place in American cinema." Among its legions of fans were François Truffaut, who included it among his favorite contemporary American films, and Kenneth Turan who wrote about the 1992 reissue that “even 20-plus years after its original release, this picture’s implacability and refusal to compromise are as startlingly pure as ever.”
Bing Theater | $10 general admission. $7 museum members, seniors (62+), students with valid ID | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.