1955 / 106 mins. / b/w
Dir. Robert Aldrich
Scr. A. I. Bezzerides
Cine. Ernest Laszlo
Cast: Albert Dekker, Ralph Meeker, Paul Stewart
About The Event
Eight motion pictures have been made from books by hardboiled crime novelist Mickey Spillane, but only one is a masterpiece. Rather than a standard detective flick, director Robert Aldrich and screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides weave an ultra-noir nightmare that sometimes edges into David Lynch territory, decades before Lynch went there – especially in the film’s apocalyptic and distinctly un-Hollywood ending. Aldrich refuses to idealize Spillane’s brutal detective hero, Mike Hammer; instead, he casts Ralph Meeker as a thuggish Hammer who is no more likable than the bad guys. With its unhinged violence, Atomic Age paranoia, and frenzied nihilism, Aldrich’s phantasmagoria is a skeleton key that unlocks the entire Eisenhower era of dutiful conformity. 1950s America saw itself as Rock Hudson, but Kiss Me Deadly suggests that it looked a lot more like Ralph Meeker.
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Image: Film still from Kiss Me Deadly