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Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 28 April 1955 (USA)
A doomed female hitchhiker pulls Mike Hammer into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit".

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Writers:

Mickey Spillane (novel), A.I. Bezzerides (screenplay)
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Meeker ... Mike Hammer
Albert Dekker ... Dr. G.E. Soberin
Paul Stewart ... Carl Evello
Juano Hernandez ... Eddie Yeager
Wesley Addy ... Lt. Pat Murphy
Marian Carr ... Friday (as Marion Carr)
Marjorie Bennett ... Manager
Mort Marshall Mort Marshall ... Ray Diker
Fortunio Bonanova ... Carmen Trivago
Strother Martin ... Harvey Wallace
Mady Comfort ... Nightclub Singer (as Madi Comfort)
James McCallion ... Horace
Robert Cornthwaite ... FBI Agent
Silvio Minciotti Silvio Minciotti ... Mover
Nick Dennis ... Nick Va Va Voom
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Storyline

A frightened woman is running barefoot on a highway, trying desperately to flag a car. After several cars pass her by, the woman sees another car approaching, and to make sure either the car stops, or, she's killed, she stands in the path of the oncoming car. Private Investigator Mike Hammer is the one at the wheel, and after almost hitting the woman, he tells her to get in. The woman's name is Christina Bailey. She is obviously on the run, being barefoot and wearing nothing but a trench coat, and the scent of fear. Whoever was after her eventually catches up with them. Christina has information they want, but dies while being questioned. The killers fake an accident by pushing Hammer's car off the road, but he survives, waking up in hospital two weeks later. As Mike starts to investigate Christina's death, he's told by the police to stay out of it, but, the hard-nosed private investigator proceeds anyways. Little did he know that Christina's secret would lead to death and destruction. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"I don't care what you do to me, Mike - just do it fast!" See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | Spanish

Release Date:

28 April 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mickey Spillane's Kiss Me Deadly See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$410,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,178
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Parklane Pictures Inc. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Glen Glenn Sound)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Albert Dekker and Jack Lambert appeared in similar bad guy roles in The Killers (1946). See more »

Goofs

Obvious mannequin dummy when Gabrielle goes up in flames after opening the radioactive box at the end of the film. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mike Hammer: You almost wrecked my car! Well? Get in!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits scroll backwards (down instead of up). See more »

Alternate Versions

The original ending was shown overseas in various countries (eg. Germany and the UK) when the film was originally released. It appears that the film was actually released in two different versions worldwide and the shortened ending was done specifically for the domestic USA theatrical release. In the UK, although there was a longer ending, the theatrical release was heavily cut by around 7 minutes for violence by the BBFC with the result that the film became nonsensical. For example, the entire scene of Cloris Leachman being tortured was excised and the film cuts from Hammer being knocked out to him waking up again doused with petrol so that you never know what happened to Leachman or the significance of the shoes worn by Albert Dekker. UK TV prints are uncut. See more »

Connections

Referenced in In the Picture (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Worth a Closer Look
21 July 2013 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

No need to recap the plot (even if I could) or echo some of the more obvious details.

Notice how no one stops to help poor Christina as she runs down the street frantically at movie's opening. Instead cars whiz by, until Hammer almost wrecks his snazzy car trying to avoid her. In fact, there's not an overload of compassion anywhere in this brutal noir classic.

As I recall, critics of the time reviled it for the unremitting violence and lack of heroics. At the same time, in years of movie watching, I've never heard screams of pain (e.g. Christina, Sugar Smallhouse) so convincing as here. They're almost too much to bear, which was likely Aldrich's intent. Add to the package a scummy, narcissist PI like Hammer, and you've got a melodrama unlike audiences of the time were prepared for. No wonder the movie bombed. (Two previous Hammer films had also disappointed Spillane fans-- I, The Jury {1953}, The Long Wait {1954})

Except this movie was years ahead of its time in both style and content. Sure, the plot doesn't make much sense. There are threads, but they never seem to come together in coherent fashion. Instead, the money hungry Hammer keeps thrashing around in the dark like there's got to be a big payoff somewhere in the tangle he's got himself into. Self-assured to the hilt, he's not one for self-doubt or moments of contemplation. Instead, he bulls his way through every situation, heedless of what he's getting into. I expect folks looking for deeper meanings find plenty of grist with this. Then too, it's hard to say enough about actor Meeker's spot-on portrayal. His Hammer amounts to a guy you neither like nor dislike, but can't help watching anyway (his physical resemblance to Brando is almost astonishing).

The visual style here is almost equally astonishing. Noir b&w has never been photographed (Earnest Laszlo) more effectively than some of those night scenes (e.g. the brutal fist fight between Hammer and his attacker {Paul Richards}), plus the long, dark hallways and staircases that suggest an enclosed world without redemption. Then too, the exploding beach house is well done, though it goes through 4 or 5 increasingly violent blasts, making Aldrich's apocalyptic point, I guess.

But it's not just Hammer and the thugs he's surrounded with. The women we see may be lovely or even beautiful (Carr), but none are to be trusted. Not even Hammer's Velda (Cooper), who, when you think about it, is his willing partner in the scummy infidelity scams that are his bread and butter. How many husbands, for example, has she seduced into grounds for divorce. It's not obvious, but there's a misogynistic undercurrent running through the narrative, which, I guess, is appropriate for the movie's generally nihilistic attitude. (Note how oblivious Hammer is to the grandeur of the classical music around him that keeps popping up in the screenplay. None of that sublime stuff for him.)

No doubt about it, the movie may retain the raw violence and sex that made author Spillane's potboilers so popular in the 50's. But crucially there's no one to root for here, not even the Hammer of Spillane's Cold War novels who kills commies on sight. No, Aldrich's and screenwriter Bezzerides world is not divided into good and evil, in the way that Spillane's brutal Hammer is redeemed by fighting on the good, patriotic side. Instead, the Aldrich world comes across as a nihilistic one, without enduring values, one that can only be redeemed by apocalypse, nuclear style. No wonder the French glommed onto the film immediately. I'm sure those pessimistic themes fit perfectly with the existentialist topics then so popular among their artistic class.

Anyhow, however you choose to take the 100-minutes—as a betrayal of the novels or as a somewhat profound gloss on the human condition-- the movie remains a memorable one-of- a-kind.


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