Kiss Me Deadly

( 6 )

Overview

Regarded by many critics as the ultimate film noir, and by many more as the finest movie adaptation of a book by Mickey Spillane, Kiss Me Deadly stars Ralph Meeker as Spillane's anti-social private eye Mike Hammer. While driving down a lonely road late one evening, Hammer picks up a beautiful blonde hitchhiker Cloris Leachman, dressed in nothing but a raincoat. At first, Hammer assumes that the incoherent girl is an escaped lunatic; his mind is changed for him when he and the girl are abducted by two thugs. The ...
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Overview

Regarded by many critics as the ultimate film noir, and by many more as the finest movie adaptation of a book by Mickey Spillane, Kiss Me Deadly stars Ralph Meeker as Spillane's anti-social private eye Mike Hammer. While driving down a lonely road late one evening, Hammer picks up a beautiful blonde hitchhiker Cloris Leachman, dressed in nothing but a raincoat. At first, Hammer assumes that the incoherent girl is an escaped lunatic; his mind is changed for him when he and the girl are abducted by two thugs. The men torture the girl to death as the semiconscious Hammer watches helplessly. He himself escapes extermination when the murderers' car topples off a cliff and he is thrown clear. Seeking vengeance, Hammer tries to discover the secret behind the girl's murder. Among those who cross his path in the film's tense, tingling 105 minutes are a slimy gangster Paul Stewart, a turncoat scientist Albert Dekker, and the dead woman's sexy roommate Gaby Rodgers. All clues lead to a mysterious box -- the "Great Whatsit," as Hammer's secretary Velda Maxine Cooper describes it. Both the box and Velda are stolen by the villains, at which point Hammer discovers that the "Whatsit" contains radioactive material of awesome powers. The apocalyptic climax is doubly devastating because we're never quite certain if Hammer survives he doesn't narrate the story, as was the case in most Mike Hammer films and TV shows. Director Robert Aldrich and scriptwriter Jack Moffit transcend Kiss Me Deadly's basic genre trappings to produce a one-of-a-kind melodrama for the nuclear age.
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  • Three Reasons: Kiss Me Deadly
    Three Reasons: Kiss Me Deadly  

Special Features

Audio Commentary by Film Noir Specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini; ; New video tribute by Director Alex Cox; Excerpts from The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides, a 2005 Documentary on the Kiss Me Deadly Screenwriter ; ; Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane, a 1998 Documentary about the life and work of the author; ; Video pieces on the film's locations; Controversial altered ending; Theatrical Ending; Plus: a Booklet featuring an Essay by critic J. Hoberman and a 1955 reprint by Director Robert Aldrich
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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 - 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
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.

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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/21/2011
  • UPC: 715515082815
  • Original Release: 1955
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / B&W
  • Time: 1:46:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 7,909

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 De Vol Conductor
Technical Credits
Robert Aldrich Director, Producer
A.I. Bezzerides Screenwriter
Howard Bristol Set Decoration/Design
Nat "King" Cole Songwriter
Frank De Vol 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
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Kiss Me Deadly
1. Opening Titles [3:03]
2. "Remember Me" [7:38]
3. Resurrection [6:13]
4. "Call Me If You're Home" [8:23]
5. Ray Diker [4:21]
6. 325 Bunker Hill [6:58]
7. "Let's Pretend" [5:02]
8. Checking Up [7:02]
9. A Piece Of String [7:10]
10. "Follow Your Ear" [14:11]
11. "To Nick" [4:19]
12. Truth Serum [7:09]
13. The Key [13:47]
14. Mist's Gallery of Modern Art [3:23]
15. Beach Cottage [7:21]
2. Turning the Novel on it's head [7:38]
3. The Only Hero You Have [6:13]
4. Un Homme Fatal [8:23]
5. The A is for Aldrich [4:21]
6. Intellectual, artistic patina [6:58]
7. Beat influence [5:02]
8. Puppets [7:02]
9. Protofeminism [7:10]
10. Hammer's Cruelty [14:11]
11. Chance at Redemption [4:19]
12. Subliminal Violence [7:09]
13. Interrogations and Keys [13:47]
14. Haunted by Classical Music [3:23]
15. What's in the Box? [7:21]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Kiss Me Deadly
   Play The Movie
   Chapters
      Color Bars
   Commentary
      Commentary: On
      Commentary: Off
      Index
         The Apotheosis of :"va va voom:
         Color Bars
   Supplements
      Director Alex Cox on Kiss Me Deadly
      Mike Hammer's Mickey Spillane
         Play
         Postscript
      The Long Haul of A.l. Bezzerides
         Play
      Bunker Hill, Los Angeles
         Play
         Locations Today
      Altered Ending
         Play
         Theatrical Trailer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    This is a fifties film?

    ¿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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2011

    Good Noir, Ralph Meeker in one of his best, but not one you can watch ofteh.

    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!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews