2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great P.I. noir films, with the restored ending!
Robert Aldrich's 1955 detective thriller, "Kiss Me Deadly," came at the end of the American classic film noir cycle, and shows the genre at its most violent, surreal, cruel, cynical, and visually bizarre. It's the last great explosive moment of the classic era of film noir -- and I do mean explosive. This is one detective film, like "Chinatown," which you won't soon...
Published on Mar 19 2004 by Claude Avary
3.0 out of 5 stars A valentine to '50s nuclear paranoia
Mike Hammer calls the shots in this odd, hard-boiled valentine to '50s nuclear paranoia.
The stark black-and-white photography and the low production values give this film a studied brutality, as sadistic crooks chase after a case filled with a glowing radioactive isotope(this case ended up a pop reference in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction").
Published on Aug 4 2001 by Cowboy Bill
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great P.I. noir films, with the restored ending!,
Aldrich and screenwriter A. I. Bezzirides took on Mickey Spillane's popular P.I. Mike Hammer, but aside from keeping the basic plot outline of the original novel, they completely changed the nature of the character in a very reactionary move. Spillane's Mike Hammer is a New York detective-avenger, a self-righteous vigilante who deals out justice when the paralyzed forces of the law can do nothing: he's a vicious knight on a mean-spirited quest to right wrongs through brute force. (The title of the first Hammer novel, "I, the Jury" pretty much sums up his attitude.) The movie relocates Hammer to Los Angeles and turns him into a shallow con-artist who only cares about his car and his looks. He's a lousy detective too, relying on knocking people around for information, often innocent inoffensive folks, and never really paying attention to the important details of the case. His detective work is entirely matrimonial, where he and his 'assistant' Velda put the squeeze on couples to blackmail them. Hammer's motto is simple: "What's in it for me?" Ralph Meeker is perfect in the role, looking as if someone carved him out of slab of meat.
No doubt, in this story Hammer is in way over his head...if only he knew it. He picks up a nearly naked girl (Cloris Leachman in an early role) who throws herself in front of his sports car. Later, they're run off the road, and faceless gangsters torture her to dearth and leave Hammer for dead. Hammer sets out to find out what's up; not because he cares what happened to the girl, but because he sniffs out big money and he'd like to get the guys who wrecked his sports car! Hammer finds himself in a violent quest to locate an object that everyone desires: a package called 'The Great Whatsit.' The Great Whatsit isn't a meaningless red herring or Hitchcock McGuffin, however. Its contents are the great surprise of the plot, and the perfect exclamation point on a movie taking place in a chaotic world that seems to be falling apart. I won't tell what the Great Whatsit is (and shame on the reviewers here who have!), but...oh wow!
And this brings us to the issue of the ending, and the only extra on this disc. (Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil the ending.) For years, "Kiss Me Deadly" had a mysteriously abrupt finale that many people praised for its surreal, weird quality. This was how I first saw it. However, in 1997 the original ending was discovered in Aldrich's personal print of the film by editor Glenn Erickson and film noir scholar Alain Silver. Apparently, an accident involving a careless projectionist snipped off part of the ending, so what we had enjoyed and critiqued for years was actually a mistake! The new ending shown on this disc fortunately doesn't change the tone of the film: it's still pretty astonishing, filled with a brilliant use of light and sound effects. However, there's still something about that abrupt ending that gets to people. The DVD contains the option to watch this original abrupt ending so you can make up your mind which one 'feels' more right to you: what the director intended, or the mistake that many embraced as a stroke of brilliance.
No matter which ending you like, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a fabulous piece of brutal crime cinema. The photography is amazing, filled with weird and surreal images and crazy camera angles. The performances are all dead-on: Meeker's ugly Mike Hammer; Albert Dekker as the sinister and poetry spouting Dr. Soberin; Wesley Addy as Hammer's police acquaintance Pat, the sole voice of reason in the mess; Paul Stewart as a smarmy L.A. gangster; the late Jack Elam as freaky thug; and Gaby Rodgers in the film's strangest performance as the distant, weird, but ultimately very dangerous (to every living thing on the planet!) Lily Carver.
If you love detective films and film noir, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a great must-see classic. For a 1950s film, it is surprisingly violent and far ahead of its time. And either end will leave you shivering in shock. If only they had the guts to end films this way today!
4.0 out of 5 stars Archetype setting 50s noir.,
Mike Hammer picks up a woman wandering on desert road, gets caught in plot that leads to a stolen nuclear bomb.
Some great images throughout. A lot of 50s noir archetypes were set by this film. The ending is a bit silly and symbolically
heavy handed at the same time, and some of the performances are over-the-top, but it's certainly enjoyable.
Some critics consider it a masterpiece. I find that a stretch. But I did like it better on 2nd viewing, so maybe I'll return to
it yet again.
4.0 out of 5 stars "Kiss Me Deadly (1955) ... Ralph Meeker ... Robert Aldrich (Director) (2001)",
Ralph Meeker made an excellent contribution as Mike Hammer. He dominates the film with his presence. Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Mirian Carr, Maxine Cooper and especially Cloris Leachman, in her screen debut, make this film the favorite it has become.
Director Robert Aldrich transcends Kiss Me Deadly's basic genre trappings to produce a one-of-a-kind melodrama for the nuclear age.
Under the production staff of:
Robert Aldrich [Director/Producer]
Mickey Spillane [novel "Kiss Me Deadly"]
A.I. Bezzerides [Screenplay]
Victor Saville [Executive Producer]
Frank De Vol [Original Music]
Ernest Laszlo [Cinematographer]
Michael Luciano [Film Editor]
1. Robert Aldrich [Director]
Date of Birth: 9 August 1918 - Cranston, Rhode Island
Date of Death: 5 December 1983 - Los Angeles, California
2. Ralph Meeker [aka: Ralph Rathgeber]
Date of Birth: 21 November 1920 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Death: 5 August 1988 - Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
the cast includes:
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
Maxine Cooper - Velda
Cloris Leachman - Christina Bailey
Gaby Rodgers - Gabrielle
Nick Dennis - Nick
Jack Lambert - Sugar Smallhouse
Jack Elam - Charlie Max
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 4 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 106 min on DVD ~ United Artists ~ (06/19/2001)
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing film,
This film , undoubtly belongs the film noir genre , but goes far beyond and becomes a clear warning about the implications of dealing with such dangerous weapon in the underworld.
In this sense, the dramatic wrenchs produce interesting and new events that feed and redefine the film noir for that historical moment. Don't forget the Cold War and the dark clouds of fear and hopeless still surrounded the mind and soul of many people in USA.
Watch this film . Robert Aldrich , with this film defined his artistic personality in the American Cinema.
And other movies directed by him , specially "In cold blood" , gives us important clues about his world's sight.
5.0 out of 5 stars Kiss Me Deadly,
The movie opens with divorce detective Mike Hammer(Ralph Meeker) forced to pick up a barefoot and naked-under-a-trenchcoat Christina Baily(Chloris Leachman in her first screen role)who, as we soon find out, has escaped from a mental institution and is running down the middle of a remote California road at night. When Hammer is quickly run off the road by gangsters who torture Christina to death and nearly kill Hammer himself his interest is sparked. Hammer smells something big and the cut of something big is...well, big. He decides to give the divorce work a rest and devote himself, his adoring secretary Velda(Maxine Cooper), his Greek mechanic friend Nick(Nick Dennis), and anyone else he can get to do his dirty work for him to this new mystery. The film is rich with Cold War fear and nuclear paranoia as all the characters relentless focus of selfish greed is on "the great whatsit", the mysterious glowing box of material stolen from a nuclear testing facility. Mike Hammer's detective is totally enjoyable to watch although a distinctly unfavorable and immoral character. He whores out his secretary, Velda, without remorse to adulterous husbands to wrap up divorce cases, gets his innocent friend Nick killed by involving him in the case, is a markedly poor detective, and sadistically enjoys physically punishing those who get in his way.
KISS ME DEADLY is fundamentally wrapped up in the definitions of the film noir genre, containing all the elements--a stark opening sequence on a dark road, destructive manipulating femme fatales, low-life cheap gangsters, dark expressionistically lit night-time scenes, a vengeful (or greedy?) quest, maybe the best, and most anti-, anti-hero of the noir canon, and a dark mood of hopelessness.
4.0 out of 5 stars Feelm nwahrrr,
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good film noir,
5.0 out of 5 stars Noir Means Dark, and This One Is Really Dark,
Then follow some deaths, and threats from government agents and secret organization alike. Hammer's investigation is, as is the case with the genre, full of plot twists, but Aldrich never gets us bored with his rather laid-back direction and occassional shock materials provided for the fans. The violence (such as torture) is all suggested, not directly depicted, but the power is still there after half a century. The dialugues or situatons are all intentionally clunky, as if Aldrich is telling that the events are all happening on another planet. But his tactics work, giving the entire picture some strange feelings like another world.
We must remember that the film is made soon after the WW2, and the world is haunted with the images of nuclear age, and the conflicts between two superpowers. Clearly the weird touch of the film reinforces the uneasiness of these times found in the film, and the fears of the days are conveyed to us even now. So, nothing is fully explained; everything is suggested. You find a box, but you don't know what it is (but can guess). And the "shock" ending has not lost its power yet.
Actors are comparatively unknown except the prolific Cloris Leachman (later wins Oscar for "The Last Picture Show"), but that doesnot matter. Just watch it, and enjoy its stylish camerawor, and shocks that its audiences saw years ago. And find the possible inspiration for the "box" which Jules and Vincent had in a coffee shop in "Pulp Fiction."
5.0 out of 5 stars Cautionary Tale/Sci-Fi flick Wrapped up in Film Noir,
I thought the development of the secondary characters was done quite well, e.g. even though Nick the mechanic didn't have much screen time, how bad did you feel for him when he met with his fate? And Doc Kennedy who performed Christina Bailey's autopsy. You could tell after 30 seconds that this guy was scum. I also enjoyed the two brutes Sugar and Charlie Max. Those guys had some of the best facial expressions ever filmed.
All this aside, my favorite aspect of the film was the cinematography. Filmed in glorious black & white so rich you'd think you were watching it unfold live in front of you. Also included are some of the best camera angles from the genre. One scene that sticks out is when Hammer tells Carver to meet him outside once she hears him honk the horn. They show Hammer running down the stairs from the vantage point of the top of the stairs. When Carver makes the same trip down they lensed it from the bottom. Really made an impact with me.
You should enjoy this movie if you have any interest in either noir or older b&w movies.
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE-OF-A-KIND-MOVIE.....,
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Kiss Me Deadly (Criterion) by Robert Aldrich (DVD - 2011)
CDN$ 42.99 CDN$ 30.62