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Kiss Me Deadly
     

Kiss Me Deadly

4.6 6
Director: Robert Aldrich

Cast: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart

 

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Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly remains the most enduring screen adaptation of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer stories -- even most fans of the detective movie genre scarcely remember Biff Elliot in the original I, The Jury, or Robert Bray in My Gun Is Quick, and Mickey Spillane's own portrayal of his creation in The Girl Hunters has scarcely

Overview

Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly remains the most enduring screen adaptation of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer stories -- even most fans of the detective movie genre scarcely remember Biff Elliot in the original I, The Jury, or Robert Bray in My Gun Is Quick, and Mickey Spillane's own portrayal of his creation in The Girl Hunters has scarcely been seen by as many people, though it is at least discussed; nor does anyone seems to be interested in doing anything special with Armand Assante's version of I, The Jury, or the Stacy Keach, Kevin Dobson, Darren McGavin, or Brian Keith television portrayals of Mike Hammer. Kiss Me Deadly, by comparison, just keeps getting shown, and written about, and restored, and reissued, generation after generation. This DVD is notable for including the original, full-length version of the movie's dénouement, which -- for reasons difficult to fathom -- was chopped up by the distributor on its original release. It makes the ending a little more comprehensible and logical, though anyone who only knows the original release version may wonder what the fuss is about, the other 103 minutes of the movie being striking on their own terms. The film-to-video transfer is excellent, though variable -- there are lots of shots with rich, deep contrasts, and razor-like sharpness to the lines and details, and other places where the image suddenly seems fuzzy and slightly washed out. The 1.66:1 letterboxing of the image provides a tight focus on the action, showing viewers the movie exactly the way Aldrich intended it be seen. The sound is good and loud, almost to the point where pumping it through speakers can be a problem. By the nature of its plot, this picture includes a lot of scenes of people (including several women) being tortured and killed relatively slowly, and there is a lot of screaming that may annoy neighbors -- it's that loud and clear. (One scene, in which Hammer deliberately slams a desk drawer on the hand of larcenous medical examiner Percy Helton, incorporates an extended, looped in scream from what sounds like the sailors being slaughtered in King Kong; it's almost grotesque). Indeed, watching the film anew in this transfer, one is struck by a key reason why the movie may have endured across 40-plus years with its reputation and audience intact; Kiss Me Deadly still seems incredibly violent, 45 years after its release. Few who have discovered it over the last 30 years have had to make allowances, beyond the clothing and the particulars of the plot, for its sensibilities as being of another era; it's just amazing that it ever made it to early television intact. Released as part of MGM's low-priced Vintage Classics series, there are no frills -- just a straightforward menu, an adequate number of chapters, an original trailer and, for contrast, the inclusion of the original, heavily cut ending. Of course, there is a story to tell about the restored ending and how it came to be found (by accident), but the packaging doesn't allow for the inclusion of that information.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Karen Backstein
Profoundly sinister, deeply pessimistic, and deliciously witty, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir unlike any other -- and it’s as modern today as it was on the day it premiered in 1955. Made near the end of the classic Hollywood era, this second trip to the big screen for Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (after 1953's I, The Jury) remains the best, as it casts a shockingly jaundiced eye on the detective genre and on society at large. Director Robert Aldrich conjures up a world that’s decayed and decadent, on the verge of destruction. Nothing embodies this moral corruption more than the lead character himself. Ralph Meeker's Mike Hammer is a shallow brute specializing in sleazy divorce cases, and now that he’s stumbled upon something big, he’s in way over his head. From the very first atmospheric shots, excitement, danger, and sex fill the air. Hammer, driving down the highway one ominous night, picks up a beautiful -- and somewhat underdressed -- woman (played by Cloris Leachman). She hints at dark secrets that threaten her life; moments later, Hammer is run off the road, his passenger tortured and killed, and his curiosity piqued. Ignoring dire warnings from the police, the FBI, and the criminals, he pursues the few clues she’s left him. All trails eventually lead to a strange box that, like Pandora, he cannot resist opening. Every beautifully composed image ratchets up the tension and intensifies the mystery. Hammer’s own dimness adds to the story’s suspense: He can’t give us dependable information, and so the audience waits nervously to discover what’s happening right along with him. Meeker perfectly conveys the character’s arrogance and viciousness; Maxine Cooper exudes sexuality and smarts as his devoted girl Friday, Velma. The result is nothing less than explosive.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Widely considered the best (if loosest) film adaptation of a Mickey Spillane novel, Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955) features Spillane hero Mike Hammer in the ultimate Cold War paranoia investigation. With macho "bedroom dick" Hammer using any violence necessary, this darkest of 1950s films noirs sends him on a search for the "Great Whatsit," an ominously incandescent box encompassing America's nuclear nightmares, as well as man's deepest fears about unpredictably explosive female potency. Starring Ralph Meeker as the brutal Hammer, Kiss Me Deadly is shot through with Aldrich's anarchic sensibility, from Cloris Leachman's desperate opening run along a pitch-black road to the final apocalyptic conflagration. While the film was dismissed by U.S. reviewers, the French Cahiers du cinéma critics praised Kiss Me Deadly's hysterically expressionist style and singular power, as then-critic François Truffaut declared Aldrich the revelation of 1955. Later rediscovered by American film buffs, Kiss Me Deadly has since assumed its rightful place in the film noir pantheon, and films from Alex Cox's Repo Man (1984) to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) have paid homage to that evocatively glowing container. The 1998 restoration returned the final minute-and-a-half of footage to 35mm prints, dramatically altering the film's conclusion.
All Movie Guide - Karen Backstein
Widely considered the best (if loosest) film adaptation of a Mickey Spillane novel, Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (1955) features Spillane hero Mike Hammer in the ultimate Cold War paranoia investigation. With macho "bedroom dick" Hammer using any violence necessary, this darkest of 1950s films noirs sends him on a search for the "Great Whatsit," an ominously incandescent box encompassing America's nuclear nightmares, as well as man's deepest fears about unpredictably explosive female potency. Starring Ralph Meeker as the brutal Hammer, Kiss Me Deadly is shot through with Aldrich's anarchic sensibility, from Cloris Leachman's desperate opening run along a pitch-black road to the final apocalyptic conflagration. While the film was dismissed by U.S. reviewers, the French Cahiers du cinéma critics praised Kiss Me Deadly's hysterically expressionist style and singular power, as then-critic François Truffaut declared Aldrich the revelation of 1955. Later rediscovered by American film buffs, Kiss Me Deadly has since assumed its rightful place in the film noir pantheon, and films from Alex Cox's Repo Man (1984) to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) have paid homage to that evocatively glowing container. The 1998 restoration returned the final minute-and-a-half of footage to 35mm prints, dramatically altering the film's conclusion. Lucia Bozzola

Product Details

Release Date:
06/19/2001
UPC:
0027616862914
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:46:00

Special Features

Alternate ending; Original theatrical trailer; English: mono; French and Spanish subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ralph Meeker Mike Hammer
Albert Dekker Dr. Soberin
Paul Stewart Carl Evello
Wesley Addy Pat Chambers
Maxine Cooper Velda
Cloris Leachman Christina Bailey, a.k.a. Berga Torn
Jack Elam Charlie Max
Juano Hernandez Eddie Yeager
Gaby Rodgers Lily Carver, a.k.a. Gabrielle
Nick Dennis Nick
Jack Lambert Sugar Smallhouse
Marian Carr Friday
Jerry Zinneman Sammy
Leigh Snowden Girl at Evello's Pool
Percy Helton Morgue Doctor
Madi Comfort Singer
Fortunio Bonanova Carmen Trivago
James McCallion Super
Silvio Minciotti Mover
Robert Cornthwaite F.B.I. Man
James Seay F.B.I. Man
Mara McAfee Nurse
Mort Marshall Piker
Jesslyn Fax Mrs. Super
Marjorie Bennett Manager
Strother Martin Harvey Wallace, Truck Driver
Leonard Mudie Athletic Club Clerk
Bob Sherman Gas Station Man
Sam Balter Radio announcer
Joe Hernandez Radio announcer
Paul Richards Attacker
Kitty White Vocalist in Club (uncredited)
Frank deVol Conductor

Technical Credits
Robert Aldrich Director,Producer
A.I. Bezzerides Screenwriter
Howard Bristol Set Decoration/Design
Nat "King" Cole Songwriter
Frank deVol Score Composer,Songwriter
William Glasgow Art Director
Robert H. Justman Asst. Director
Ernest Laszlo Cinematographer
Michael Luciano Editor
Victor Saville Executive Producer
Bob Schiffer Makeup
Jack Solomon Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Scene Selections
1. Credits/Escapee [9:01]
2. Raising The Dead [6:10]
3. "Remember Me?" [9:40]
4. Who Was Christina? [8:45]
5. The Scared Roomate [2:53]
6. "Va-Va-Voom!" [5:02]
7. Friendly Clues [7:03]
8. Dipping Into Trouble [7:09]
9. An Opera Singer Sings [1:05]
10. Is It Worth Dying For? [3:10]
11. All Washed Up [9:37]
12. "Sweet Dreams" [5:53]
13. Key Evidence [5:54]
14. "Harmless Words" [8:03]
15. Artistic Breakthrough [4:03]
16. Pandora's Box [5:05]

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Kiss Me Deadly 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Kiss Me Deadly¿ is a cinematic revelation. Beautifully produced, directed, and photographed, it lurks in a host of formulaic fifties films like a viper in the grass of a kid's playground. Director Robert Aldrich took Spillane¿s nickel-cigar book and gave it a completely unique treatment. It is sinister, amoral, unredeeming, and really savage. Depravity runs through it like a scar. The film is so polished and controlled that we are continually lulled and then jarred by what happens. The protagonist, Mike Hammer, is handsome and smooth on the outside but sadistic and sleazy on the inside. He uses his sexy assistant Velda to entrap and double-cross divorce clients, but brushes off her genuine affection. As played by the sleek, sneering, Ralph Meeker, for whom this part fit like a glove, Hammer drives beautiful sports cars, lives in a classic LA bachelor¿s pad (check out that crazy answering machine), dresses sharp, and gets women. He also beats thugs to death for pleasure, hurts and terrorizes witnesses, and shows scathing disrespect and disregard for the law and law enforcement, even when it would probably help his case. His integrity, what little there may be, is entirely self-serving. He is basically motivated by the same thing as the bad guys: greed. The good guys are pretty bad, but the bad guys are even worse. Led by the velvet-voiced Dr. Soberin, (Albert Dekker, who guested that voice a few times on the TV series ¿The Outer Limits¿), the antagonists are misogynistic degenerates who kidnap and torture women, drop cars on mechanics, and mangle Hammer so many times it¿s a wonder he can finish the film. Finish he does, when the explosive (literally) climax plays out in a beach house. By that time the film has veered to levels of interpretive realism found in some Kurosawa films, and in fact, the current version of ¿Kiss Me Deadly¿ provides an alternative ending to the original theatrical release. You be the judge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ClassicMovieFanSH More than 1 year ago
I like(d) this movie - not a lot, but did mainly due to the "hype" around the cast - and then was not disappointed. But, after seeing it once, even trying about 3 times, I knew the end, the middle, and the rest, so it wasn't that entertaining. Not like watching a BOGIE, MITCHUM, G. FORD and/or others of this genre. (noir?) The start is fairly good, but I think Meeker plays a "wooden"-type detective, not the colorful kind like one of the others I mentioned, but plain. The cast was full was good and had some "would be" famous people, but for this movie - it was just not that good. Same old tricks, the exploding car, people died needlessly, and I felt I could guess the next scene. This was all except the first time, when I wanteted to find out what all the "hoopla" was about. Once I did, then after that, it reall wasn't worth watching unless there was nothing else on TV. It was not the kind of DVD I would buy, even at this price - which isn't bad. I like Meeker, especiall in "Path's of Glory", but in this, he was one of those "greasy, snooping detectibes one finds in hotel lobbbies", etc. (from "The Big Sleep - L. Bacall on what she thought a "shamus" aka detective was.) The FIRST TIME I SAW IT, the plot was interesting. But, from there, a lot of people turned up in the film making it quite complicated. When Meeker was first questioned by the police about his detective job, it turned out (though he was dressed nice and had a nice, sports car), he really was one of those who was the kind who worked mainly on finding out if a husband and/or wife was cheating. His partner (and gal pal), also worked with him in this business, often making up to the other partner to make it so they earned their money - which I found was a silly as the police dept did. All in all, it is a good movie, but I rated it a 3, but comparing it to ones like "The Big Heat", "Macao", BOTH of "The Big Sleeps" (Mitchum in 197X and the bogie/Bacall in 1946) would make me rate it more like a 2. But, on it's own, it is better than many of the other noirs I have seen, probably due to the Dashiell Hammett book is was based on. MANY movies of this genre - if I have seen the end - I can watch it over and over knowing how it is going to come out, and still watchit often; but, this one - already knew and just doesn't hold me after one viewing - as I stated earlier, unless there is nothing else on - and I don't feel like watching another DVD. I am sure if you are looking at this, you have seen the movie' however, if you haven't, I won't ruin it and tall you ths plot. But, you may want to see it on-line and/or "ON DEMAND" first, to make sure you get what you want! (Fans of D.Hammett, noirs and crime dramas will probably like it, so it depends on you, your budget, and the kind of DVD you watch often!) Good luck and hsppy viewing!