Amid a semi-documentary portrait of New York and its people, Jean Dexter, an attractive blonde model, is murdered in her apartment. Homicide detectives Dan Muldoon and Jimmy Halloran ... See full summary »
Tough L.A. private eye Mike Hammer gives a ride to Christina, a frightened young woman he finds running along the road one night. His car is run off the road by unseen thugs. Hammer is knocked out and Christina is tortured in an unsuccessful attempt to get information from her. They are put back into Hammer's car which then is forced off a cliff. Hammer wakes up in the hospital. Velda, his trusty secretary, informs him that Christina is dead. Pat Chambers, Mike's policeman friend, tells him to stay off the case, but Mike thinks it might be a big story--meaning big money for him--because the FBI is interested. He, Velda, and Nick, his garage mechanic friend, start investigating in hopes of finding out why Christina was killed. Written by
The Kefauver Commission, a federal unit dedicated to investigating corrupting influences in the 1950s, singled this out as 1955's number one menace to American youth. Because of this, Robert Aldrich felt compelled to conduct a writing campaign for the free speech rights of independent film-makers. See more »
When Nick discovers Hammer's Corvette, a crew member's reflection is visible in the driver-side door. See more »
Sleazy, tawdry B-noir doesn't get any sleazier or tawdrier than Robert Aldrich's jazzy and astonishingly entertaining "Kiss Me Deadly." This film was released late in the life cycle of the film noir genre. By 1958 and Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil," true noir would be just about washed up. Any noir film from that point forward would be self-consciously aware that it was tipping its hat to an established genre. But "Deadly" came out when films still didn't have to work at being noirish---they just WERE, and dazzlingly so.
Born-to-play-a-bully Ralph Meeker plays tough-guy detective Mike Hammer, who's in the wrong place at the wrong time and picks up a mysterious panic-stricken girl (Cloris Leachman), who's just escaped from an asylum. From that moment forward, he finds himself tangled up in a barely lucid plot, in which a bunch of baddies want to get their hands on something the girl either had or knew about. Hammer doesn't know what it is, but he knows that if so many people want it, it's something he probably wants too, and the race for the great "whatsit" is on.
If you wanted to teach a film class about the look and attitude of a film noir, you couldn't pick a better film than this one. I found myself on a recent viewing of this film pausing my DVD player and studying the frame (because, sadly, this is what I do in my spare time), rehearsing in my mind what I would tell a class about any particular composition. And aside from the style, the film is steeped in noir sentiment--it's not simply cynical, like the glossier studio noirs of the 40's; it's downright apocryphal. It's not simply one man undone by the vengeful forces of fate here, but an entire civilization on the brink of extinction.
So pop this in and have a great time with it--feel free to quote it liberally, as there are plenty of juicy lines worth quoting. But as you watch it, you might want to stay away from the windows, for as Mike Hammer's hot-to-trot sometime girlfriend, sometime secretary Velda says, someone may "blow you a kiss."
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