A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
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
Although Victor Saville is credited as Executive Producer and Director Robert Aldrich is credited only as Producer, in reality, Aldrich had it written into his contract that he had complete control over the picture, and it would be made the way he wanted it, specifically stipulating that his decisions could not be overruled by any studio representative. See more »
When Mike Hammer is talking to the old man with the trunk in the doorway of the apartment house, a microphone is briefly visible in the upper-left portion of the archway. See more »
Opening credits scroll backwards (down instead of up). See more »
The complete ending footage from Robert Aldrich's version has finally been recovered from the director's own personal print, donated to the Director's Guild of America after his death. This version shows quite clearly that Mike and Velda do not die in the fire. See more »
One of the greatest detective thrillers ever made.
If The Maltese Falcon (1941) was the definitive true detective movie, The Big Sleep (1946) the definitive glamourized detective movie, and Chinatown (1974) the definitive allegorical detective movie, then Kiss Me Deadly is the definitive sleazy detective movie.
Mickey Spillane's sadistic private eye Mike Hammer, turned from successful private eye to sleazy bedroom dick, is the quintessential anti-hero, doing just about anything and everything wrong to get a piece of the pie that the characters call "The Big What's-it."
The movie survives by giving the usual Spillane buckets-of-blood story and its protagonist new dimensions. Right from the electric opening scene and the audacious opening credit sequence, the audience is drawn into Hammer's seedy world, where morality is suspended, and the credo of the end justifying the means dominates Hammer's actions. His reckless abandonment is almost never questionned and the film seems to understand his brutality as what he must do to get the job done in an equally brutal world.
Director Robert Aldrich observes all of it with an objective eye that neither glorifies nor condemns the action on-screen, letting the audience draw its own conclusions--even where the plot is concerned. The pace is unrelentless and the plot turns are never fully explained, forcing the audience to participate willingly in all that Hammer does to, hopefully, see the story through to its ending.
And what an ending! I'd de damned to a special place in Hell if I elaborated, so I'll just say that it's one of the greatest I've ever seen. That goes same for the movie itself, which is one of the most stylish, jarring and truly entertaining movies of its genre.
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