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      Kiss Me Deadly

      Released May 18, 1955 1 hr. 45 min. Crime Drama List
      98% 44 Reviews Tomatometer 84% 5,000+ Ratings Audience Score One evening, private detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) picks up a strange woman, Christina (Cloris Leachman), who's standing on the highway wearing only a trench coat. They're stopped farther on by strangers who knock out Mike and murder Christina. Although warned not to investigate by the police, Mike and his girlfriend and assistant, Velda (Maxine Cooper), become ensnared in a dark plot involving scientist Dr. Soberin (Albert Dekker) and Christina's terrified roommate, Lily (Gaby Rodgers). Read More Read Less
      Kiss Me Deadly

      What to Know

      Critics Consensus

      An intriguing, wonderfully subversive blend of art and commerce, Kiss Me Deadly is an influential noir classic.

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      Audience Reviews

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      nick s Surprisingly gritty movie with an unsympathetic main character who doesn't stay within social guardrails. Lots of eye catching locations as he follows the clues around town. Some of the editing was a bit rough, the acting had some soft patches and the plot was merely squeezing one person after another to uncover the macguffin. However, all that doesn't take away from the fact this was excellent entertainment. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/07/24 Full Review John H a very great noir movie Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/22/24 Full Review Christopher S To be honest, I have already forgotten much of the plot, and I only watched it a few weeks ago. I mainly remember the overly macho Mike Hammer who was difficult to like, and the ending that Pulp Fiction referenced. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 11/01/23 Full Review Matthew B Even by the cynical standards of the average film noir, this Mike Hammer is a nasty piece of work. He does not kill any women in the movie. He does not even kill any men, perhaps only because his private eye and gun licence have been revoked by the police. That is the best we can say about his character, and perhaps the only good we can say. Hammer is a small-time sleazy private eye who works on divorce cases, where he plays the couple off against one another to make more money. He pimps out his secretary (who is also his girlfriend) to build up a better case of adultery against the husbands. It is hardly surprising that when he leaves the police station, a disgusted cop says, "Open a window" as if to remove the stench. After a woman is murdered while seeking Hammer's help, he investigates the killing. Hammer's methods of investigating show the same blend of self-regard and callousness that we have come to expect from him. Some of his actions are violent. When a man tries to kill him, he takes evident satisfaction in beating the culprit's head against a wall and throwing him down some steps. On another occasion, he slams a drawer shut on a man's fingers in order to get important evidence from him. At other times he is merely mean-spirited, as when he elicits information from one man by breaking one of his precious opera music records. Our ‘hero' is a man who is hard to like, but then he lives in a seedy world inhabited by low-life denizens who are no better than he is. A coroner holds onto vital evidence, and tries to shake Hammer down for more money before he hands it over. A damsel in distress turns out to be up to her ears in shady dealings. Behind these operators are an even more ruthless group of thugs. It is they who torture Christina to death, try to kill Hammer on a few occasions, pull out a carjack and crush a friend of Hammer's who has been snooping too much, and pump Hammer full of drugs in a bid to get information out of him. It is perhaps not surprising that the film, though successful at the box office, was examined by the Kefauver Committee, a Senate committee set up to look at organised crime, to see if the film was likely to lead young people astray, and have a ruinous effect on them. Often in films the item pursued by the various characters (in this case a valise) is a MacGuffin, a plot device that is only necessary for moving the story forward, and of no particular relevance to the film's most important aspects – its themes or techniques, or the motives and aspirations of its characters. In the case of Kiss Me Deadly, the valise is the whole point of the movie, and it serves the opposite purpose of a MacGuffin. It actually takes all the petty motives and actions of the characters and renders them futile. With hindsight, we realise that they have all been foolish and blind, not knowing what they have let themselves in for. In Kiss Me Deadly, we know exactly what the contents are. It is likened to Pandora's Box, the receptacle which let loose all the evils in the world when it was opened. This box does not do that exactly, but it contains materials that have the potential to do this. The box contains radioactive materials. The presence of this dangerous valise leads to one of the most terrifying conclusions of any film noir. Indeed the final conclusion of the film is Aldrich's best defence against accusations that the film might be somehow ruining American youth by glamorising violence. The message of the film seems to be that a dissolute and cynical society which has lost its moral compass and become greedy and selfish will one day lead the country to the point of a nuclear apocalypse. Aldrich keeps our attention by providing unusual camera shots. Cameras are lain at slanted angles, or placed too high or too low, letting us to see scenes in a different way. The director makes use of the Los Angeles setting, and we see many of its streets and locations. These are a fascinating look into the past now, as most of these places have since been pulled down. The story is further enhanced by a literary script. The downside of this is that it is a little hard to imagine the squalid criminals of this world having so good an education as we see here. Allusions are made to Pandora's Box, the Medusa and Cerberus. A clue is given in a Christina Rossetti poem, and Hammer is clever enough to work this out. We hear many classical music tunes in the film, and some of them are on records played by Hammer. These aspects give the lie to some critics' assertions that Hammer is an unintelligent thug. Apparently he has some culture and intellect, unlikely though it may seem. The literary aspects of the script may be unlikely and reflect more about the background of the writer than the characters, but they provide an additional layer of meaning and pleasure for those members of the audience who are familiar with them. With its mixture of brute violence and flowery language, Kiss Me Deadly is a startling contribution to the dour world of film noir, and one of the genre's best products. I wrote a longer appreciation of Kiss Me Deadly on my blog page if you would like to read more: https://themoviescreenscene.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/kiss-me-deadly-1955/ Rated 5 out of 5 stars 08/25/23 Full Review Andy F Astonishing, ground-breaking and absolutely captivating film noir. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 06/06/23 Full Review Audience Member The greatest 1.75 hours ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Critics Reviews

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      Richard Brody New Yorker The actors' idiosyncratic voices, wrapped around such chrome-plated poetry as "the great whatsit" and "va-va-voom," are as hauntingly musical as Aldrich's images. Sep 12, 2016 Full Review Chris Nashawaty Entertainment Weekly Rated: B+ Jun 16, 2011 Full Review Dave Kehr Chicago Reader This independently produced low-budget film was a shining example for the New Wave directors -- Truffaut, Godard, et al -- who found it proof positive that commercial films could accommodate the quirkiest and most personal of visions. Mar 27, 2009 Full Review Rob Gonsalves Rob's Movie Vault It takes Mickey Spillane's unreconstructed macho lout Mike Hammer and brutally interrogates him, slapping him around in a jazzy bebop rhythm that rides right up to apocalypse. Rated: A+ Nov 29, 2022 Full Review Mike Massie Gone With The Twins The climax is so startlingly unusual that this Robert Aldrich-directed picture safely becomes unforgettable. Rated: 7/10 Aug 23, 2020 Full Review Chris Barsanti Eyes Wide Open By the time the movie comes to its gonzo Pandora's box conclusion on the beach, neither script nor screen have been able to keep up with reason, preferring instead to simply stay out of Hammer's way. Jul 22, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis One evening, private detective Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) picks up a strange woman, Christina (Cloris Leachman), who's standing on the highway wearing only a trench coat. They're stopped farther on by strangers who knock out Mike and murder Christina. Although warned not to investigate by the police, Mike and his girlfriend and assistant, Velda (Maxine Cooper), become ensnared in a dark plot involving scientist Dr. Soberin (Albert Dekker) and Christina's terrified roommate, Lily (Gaby Rodgers).
      Director
      Robert Aldrich
      Executive Producer
      Victor Saville
      Screenwriter
      Mickey Spillane, A. I. Bezzerides
      Distributor
      United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, MGM/UA Home Entertainment Inc.
      Production Co
      United Artists
      Genre
      Crime, Drama
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      May 18, 1955, Original
      Release Date (DVD)
      Jun 19, 2001
      Box Office (Gross USA)
      $882
      Sound Mix
      Mono
      Aspect Ratio
      35mm, 1.66:1