Monday, May 28, 2012

Kiss Me Deadly

Ralph Meeker is private detective Mike Hammer, a caveman in a suit going around and bitchslapping various people, trying to find out who killed Cloris Leachman. Also starring Jack Elam in a non cowboy role. And... what's in the box? Directed by Robert Aldrich.

I accidently caught this film on tv years ago, not knowing anything about it, but recognizing Mike Hammer from having read some Mickey Spillane novels. Mike Hammer is a mean bastard - you can see a link from this character to James Bond. The opening credits of the film goes downwards instead of the usual upwards, creating an impression that something is wrong right from the beginning. It has an amazing black and white cinematography from Ernest Laszlo. Car scenes seem to be shot in the street, and not in a studio using back projections. You can see why the French nouvelle vague directors liked it. There's a scene showing what I assume was the Angel's Flight funicular in Bunker Hill, Los Angeles. And wow, the ending...


  1. I love that film. Another thing I noticed upon my most recent viewing is that the scene in the gym is all done in one shot without ever calling attention to itself. The sound effect when the box is opened -- spooky.

    Weird, mean noir.

  2. Just finished watching this for the 1st time. I enjoyed it but struggled to like Mike Hammer in the same way as say Spade or Marlow. He seemed too tough(the henchmen only got the better of him when they had a gun on him). I did'nt like his appartment and answering machine or even Velda! Maybe I just don't like Ralph Meeker. Great direction and ending though,just read that in the US it was cut!

  3. I don't think Ralph Meeker is to be blamed. It's rather Aldrich and the scriptwriter, A.I. Bezzerides, who subverted the novel, turning Mike Hammer into even more of a sadistic brute. Apparently, Mickey Spillane was not too happy with the film.