Richard Peña Selects: Kiss Me Deadly
Campus Arts Event
Richard Peña Selects: Kiss Me Deadly
Watch a screening of Kiss Me Deadly—introduced by Professor Richard Peña of Columbia University School of the Arts—as a part of the Richard Peña Selects festival.
Lenfest Center for the Arts - The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
December 02, 2023 | 3:00 pm
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Festival Details

On the eve of his retirement, Professor Richard Peña has selected six films of particular importance to him and his career, ranging from classic Hollywood noir to one of the last Chinese films made before the Cultural Revolution to screen in this three day festival.

Film Details

Kiss Me Deadly

1955 / 106 mins. / b/w

Dir. Robert Aldrich

Scr. A. I. Bezzerides

Cine. Ernest Laszlo

Cast: Albert Dekker, Ralph Meeker, Paul Stewart


The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street
New York, NY 10027

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.

For more information, please visit the event website.

Image: Film still from Kiss Me Deadly