Reviews for Kiss Me Deadly ( ) 1080p

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

The quest for the great whatsit

First-rate Mickey Spillane adaptation, easily the best film version of any of his novels that I've seen. Private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) investigates the reasons behind the death of a hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman in her film debut). It's a gritty, tough, violent noir with some good dialogue and morally grey (at best) characters. Meeker's the perfect Hammer. Albert Dekker has a small but important part. The rest of the cast is good except for Nick Dennis, who goes full Eli Wallach in his role as Hammer's mechanic friend. Robert Aldrich directs with style. The ending is pretty cool, but it's definitely one of those "love it or hate it" things. It's certainly memorable, which I think most of us can agree is part of what makes any film great.

A genre-bending film so transcendent that it can be considered as an alien transmission.

Movies like "Kiss Me Deadly" are reassuring that there's more to each genre than meets the eye. "Kiss Me Deadly" is part hard-boiled detective story & part apocalyptic sci-fi horror film. The movie suspects its own plots and its conventions are ludicrous. The result is a highly inventive film with a ridiculous but highly enjoyable storyline and comically fascinating characters.

The basic plot, loosely adapted from Mickey Spillane's bestselling novel,is: after private-eye Mike Hammer picks up a hitchhiker who is later murdered, he becomes determined to learn the truth about her death. Although the plot becomes more and more insane, it's highly interesting. There are no empty twists, as each one leads to something larger and more confounding.

I've never had more fun with a film noir character than the aptly named character of Mike Hammer. He isn't intimidated by any man and denies the world's hottest women. If he holds the upper hand in a situation, he seems virtually impenetrable. This characteristic leads to the ever-prevalent theme in film noirs of men vs. women and their places in relationships and society.

The film is a masterpiece of cinematography, exhibited in the disorienting camera angles and unique and unconventional compositions of Ernest Laszlo. In fact, Ernesto Laszlo's cinematography is so apt with the film's randomness that it made me giddy.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Kiss Me Deadly is the outrageousness of its final few seconds: the movie doesn't conclude, it detonates. In the hands of the director Robert Aldrich, the film becomes a starting point for a delirious expression of 1950s anxiety and paranoia, starting with opening credits that run backwards and ending with an atomic explosion.

A Wonderful Film Noir, Among the Best

A doomed female hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman) pulls Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) into a deadly whirlpool of intrigue, revolving around a mysterious "great whatsit." The film withstood scrutiny from the Kefauver Commission (who investigated the mafia), which called it a film designed to ruin young viewers, leading director Aldrich to protest the Commission's conclusions. Today, the film is preserved by the Library of Congress. We can see who won in the long run.

"Kiss Me Deadly" remains one of the great time capsules of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills; the Bunker Hill locations were all destroyed when the downtown neighborhood was razed in the late 1960s.

Homage is paid to the glowing suitcase MacGuffin in the 1984 cult film "Repo Man", the film "Ronin", and in Tarantino's film "Pulp Fiction". The "shiny blue suitcase" is referenced with other famous MacGuffins in "Guardians of the Galaxy". In the film "Southland Tales", Richard Kelly pays homage to the film, showing the main characters watching the beginning on their television and later the opening of the case is shown on screens on board the mega-Zeppelin.

This is, indeed, the greatest of all private eye stories and film noir. With all due respect to such greats as "Asphalt Jungle", this is the real deal.

A Delicious Film Noir Beast

Before you hear the title Kiss Me Deadly and begin to enthusiastically sing the chorus of Lita Ford's super-de-duper 1980s hit of the same name, consider that the film Kiss Me Deadly is not soaked with hairspray, musical production echoes, or unironic leather. It's not a cringeworthy exercise in sweaty nostalgia; it's a fundamental work of film noir.

I throw the term "film noir" around in reviews quite often, sometimes seriously and sometimes comparatively. But Kiss Me Deadly is not slight nor an imitation of the genre: along with The Big Sleep, Raw Deal, and The Third Man, it is one of the defining films of the era. Yet it subverts conformity like the plague. Sleazy private eyes and gun-toting broads are fun and all, but what if you suddenly want to embark on a wildcard journey into what resembles an abstract Lichtenstein painting? Don't listen to the crowd; just do it.

The film opens in typical noir fashion. The setting is a kettle-black road in the middle of nowhere, cars zooming in-and-out with the frequency of a moviegoer seeking out Sylvester Stallone's newest movie. But cracking the deadly calm of the shot is a frantic blonde, barefoot, dressed only in a white trenchcoat. Desperate for someone to hitch her out of the nightmare she's living, she lunges in front of a speeding convertible. Inside this convertible is Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker), a detective. The woman, Christina (Cloris Leachman), has just escaped from a local mental institution; but being caught by her doctors seems to be the last of her worries. Someone, or something, is bothering her.

But her worries become a reality when a group of thugs block the road, knocking out Hammer and brutally murdering his passenger. The next day, he awakens in a hospital bed; paramedics discovered him, his car, and Christina's body residing on a rocky cliff in the early hours of the morning. Despite almost being killed in the violent series of events, though, Hammer is intrigued. Christina, it seems, was part of something bigger, something more threatening. Without hesitation, he takes the case. But as it develops, it becomes quite clear that it isn't going to pass by with the sinfully simple workings of the divorce cases Hammer usually supervises.

Kiss Me Deadly has all the usual noir touches, but there's something compellingly, and unusually, artificial about the atmosphere. Everything looks as though it's part of a set (most likely due to the film's microscopic budget), but its cheapness, purposeful or not, establishes the tone even more than the material. Unlike other film noirs of the time, Kiss Me Deadly doesn't take itself seriously (even if the characters hardly ever crack a smile). It exists in the same universe as a comic strip that stars a Man with X-Ray Eyes or a bloodthirsty Martian disguised as a sex goddess. The film is distinctly fantastical; while The Big Sleep slithers by with witty dialogue and lethal underbellies, Kiss Me Deadly seems to have more in common with Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. This shouldn't suggest that it's a shoddy film; it should suggest that it's in love with itself, fond of its penny dreadful exterior, and isn't afraid to push much of its mystery onto a strange box that kills every person who opens it.

When I watched Kiss Me Deadly for the first time, I didn't understand its critical acclaim. Yes, it's good, but what does it have to offer that other run-of-the-mill film noirs couldn't? Years later, my appreciation has risen by several miles. It isn't so much that Kiss Me Deadly is of superior quality; it's that it is just so, so, so ... otherworldly. Not otherworldly like the mansion Jesus probably lives in up in Heaven or Margot Robbie's beauty, but otherworldly like the realm you might find yourself in if a mirror was a door. The film is of scrumptious pulp quality, unmatched by its peers. Every scene looks like a comic book frame, every character is stock (but not quite). The poster promises "blood-red kisses!" and "white-hot thrills!" And with its campy priorities in mind, it delivers those promises with a wink and a healthy serving of idiosyncrasy.

Seeds of influence to David Lynch?

What makes this film really special is the direction and the characters. The plot itself is not that interesting per se. I have not read the novel but the story in the film is not very coherent and the involvement of the various characters in the plot is not clear at all. Curiously, though, the director does not seem to be interested in clarifying it. Instead, he builds on the ambiguity to create a universe that revolves around something that everyone thinks so important as to sacrifice their life or that of those around them for it, but no one understands what it is.

In terms of the superb direction, I think it is worth pointing out that a few ideas and styles in this film seem to have been of great influence to the work of David Lynch. On the superficial side the opening credits immediately bring to my mind the Lost Highway. The mix of noir and such high levels of ambiguity, often with allusions to the supernatural, characterises the best of Lynch's work. I even found the amalgam of Cristina and Lily/Gabriel to be a prototype to Dorothy Vallens.

Worth a Closer Look

No need to recap the plot (even if I could) or echo some of the more obvious details.

Notice how no one stops to help poor Christina as she runs down the street frantically at movie's opening. Instead cars whiz by, until Hammer almost wrecks his snazzy car trying to avoid her. In fact, there's not an overload of compassion anywhere in this brutal noir classic.

As I recall, critics of the time reviled it for the unremitting violence and lack of heroics. At the same time, in years of movie watching, I've never heard screams of pain (e.g. Christina, Sugar Smallhouse) so convincing as here. They're almost too much to bear, which was likely Aldrich's intent. Add to the package a scummy, narcissist PI like Hammer, and you've got a melodrama unlike audiences of the time were prepared for. No wonder the movie bombed. (Two previous Hammer films had also disappointed Spillane fans-- I, The Jury {1953}, The Long Wait {1954})

Except this movie was years ahead of its time in both style and content. Sure, the plot doesn't make much sense. There are threads, but they never seem to come together in coherent fashion. Instead, the money hungry Hammer keeps thrashing around in the dark like there's got to be a big payoff somewhere in the tangle he's got himself into. Self-assured to the hilt, he's not one for self-doubt or moments of contemplation. Instead, he bulls his way through every situation, heedless of what he's getting into. I expect folks looking for deeper meanings find plenty of grist with this. Then too, it's hard to say enough about actor Meeker's spot-on portrayal. His Hammer amounts to a guy you neither like nor dislike, but can't help watching anyway (his physical resemblance to Brando is almost astonishing).

The visual style here is almost equally astonishing. Noir b&w has never been photographed (Earnest Laszlo) more effectively than some of those night scenes (e.g. the brutal fist fight between Hammer and his attacker {Paul Richards}), plus the long, dark hallways and staircases that suggest an enclosed world without redemption. Then too, the exploding beach house is well done, though it goes through 4 or 5 increasingly violent blasts, making Aldrich's apocalyptic point, I guess.

But it's not just Hammer and the thugs he's surrounded with. The women we see may be lovely or even beautiful (Carr), but none are to be trusted. Not even Hammer's Velda (Cooper), who, when you think about it, is his willing partner in the scummy infidelity scams that are his bread and butter. How many husbands, for example, has she seduced into grounds for divorce. It's not obvious, but there's a misogynistic undercurrent running through the narrative, which, I guess, is appropriate for the movie's generally nihilistic attitude. (Note how oblivious Hammer is to the grandeur of the classical music around him that keeps popping up in the screenplay. None of that sublime stuff for him.)

No doubt about it, the movie may retain the raw violence and sex that made author Spillane's potboilers so popular in the 50's. But crucially there's no one to root for here, not even the Hammer of Spillane's Cold War novels who kills commies on sight. No, Aldrich's and screenwriter Bezzerides world is not divided into good and evil, in the way that Spillane's brutal Hammer is redeemed by fighting on the good, patriotic side. Instead, the Aldrich world comes across as a nihilistic one, without enduring values, one that can only be redeemed by apocalypse, nuclear style. No wonder the French glommed onto the film immediately. I'm sure those pessimistic themes fit perfectly with the existentialist topics then so popular among their artistic class.

Anyhow, however you choose to take the 100-minutes—as a betrayal of the novels or as a somewhat profound gloss on the human condition-- the movie remains a memorable one-of- a-kind.
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.

"Kiss Me Deadly" revealed the developed of Aldrich style?

"Kiss Me Deadly" had few similarities with Spillane's story about a gang of dope traffickers? Instead Aldrich reworks the plot so that the criminals are mixed up in the theft of priceless and high1y dangerous radioactive material which they are planning to smuggle to an unnamed power? The complicated story begins with Hammer picking up a scared girl on a lonely road at night and continues through the girl's subsequent death, a kidnapping and a series of very brutal killings?

Spillane's Mike Hammer remains the ultimate in violent private eyes? The killings seem to matter less than the sadism? One scene in which Hammer deliberately breaks the irreplaceable records of an Italian opera lover in order to get the information he wants is more repellent than any of the murders in the film?

Furious but stylish, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a film of great power and stays unique for its mixing of art and pulp fiction?
"Kiss Me Deadly" had few similarities with Spillane's story about agang of dope traffickers… Instead Aldrich reworks the plot so that thecriminals are mixed up in the theft of priceless and high1y dangerousradioactive material which they are planning to smuggle to an unnamedpower… The complicated story begins with Hammer picking up a scaredgirl on a lonely road at night and continues through the girl'ssubsequent death, a kidnapping and a series of very brutal killings…

Spillane's Mike Hammer remains the ultimate in violent private eyes…The killings seem to matter less than the sadism… One scene in whichHammer deliberately breaks the irreplaceable records of an Italianopera lover in order to get the information he wants is more repellentthan any of the murders in the film…

Furious but stylish, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a film of great power andstays unique for its mixing of art and pulp fiction…
The trail leads to a series of amorous dames, murder-minded plug-uglies and dangerous adventures that offer excitement but have little clarity to let the viewer know what's going on.

Yesterday I was looking for a thread, today I'm looking for a piece of string.

Mike Hammer is driving down a dark highway when a half naked blonde forces him to stop, this event sends Hammer spiralling on a journey that may have a cataclysmic consequence for all involved.

Kiss Me Deadly is a harsh movie, it contains an array of characters that are dislikable in the extreme, nobody can be trusted, and everyone on the surface appears to be selfish in their respective motivations. Taking in torture, murder, violence on tap, and a wonderful mystery plot, it's not hard to see why the film has gained a massive reputation as the years have rolled by, where although it's brutish in substance, the film is a damn riveting piece of work.

Ralp Meeker is excellent as Hammer, a character who refuses to lay down, he gets knocked down constantly, but he gets back up tougher than before, he becomes the kind of hard boiled guy who hits first and then asks questions later. The direction from Robert Aldrich is perfect, off- kilter camera work drags the viewer into this skew-whiff world that Hammer has entered, and we often only see shots of the bad guys torsos so as to make them faceless thugs. It's down right aggressive film making that hits the requisite thriller mark.

Kiss Me Deadly has influenced many others since its release, be it Repo Man or Pulp Fiction, its impact is still being felt today. Containing a much talked about ending (both the restored and alternate endings work on differing levels to many), it's a film that leaves things up for discussion and debate, but what we do know for sure is that it's explosive and crowns what is now firmly established as a crime classic from the film noir splinter of film making styles. 8.5/10

Yesterday I was looking for a thread, today I'm looking for a piece of string.

Mike Hammer is driving down a dark highway when a half naked blonde forces him to stop, this event sends Hammer spiralling on a journey that may have a cataclysmic consequence for all involved.

Kiss Me Deadly is a harsh movie, it contains an array of characters that are dislikable in the extreme, nobody can be trusted, and everyone on the surface appears to be selfish in their respective motivations. Taking in torture, murder, violence on tap, and a wonderful mystery plot, it's not hard to see why the film has gained a massive reputation as the years have rolled by - where although it's brutish in substance, the film is a damn riveting piece of work.

Ralp Meeker is excellent as Hammer, a character who refuses to lay down, he gets knocked down constantly, but he gets back up tougher than before, he becomes the kind of hard boiled guy who hits first and then asks questions later. The direction from Robert Aldrich is perfect, off-kilter camera work drags the viewer into this skew-whiff world that Hammer has entered, and we often only see shots of the bad guys torsos so as to make them faceless thugs. It's down right aggressive film making that hits the requisite thriller mark.

Kiss Me Deadly has influenced many others since its release, be it "Repo Man" or "Pulp Fiction", the impact is still being felt today. Containing a much talked about ending (both the restored and alternate endings work on differing levels to many), it's a film that leaves things up for discussion and debate, but what we do know for sure is that it's explosive and crowns what is now firmly established as a crime classic from the film noir splinter of film making styles. 8.5/10

Amazingly Modern for a 50s film

By 1950s standards this film is totally cutting edge. Just off the top of my head here is a list of things in this film that were VERY uncommon in the 50s: 1. African-Americans and non-Americans in several supporting roles 2. Main character has an answering machine (yes it's a giant wall-mounted reel-to-reel, but still..) 3. Location shooting (lots of exteriors and cool cars) 4. Risqué shots of bare legs, sexy actions by female characters, etc. It's implied the characters have a sex life (in most 1950s movies no one had sex EVER). 5. Violence - OK - there is no GRAPHIC violence, but lots of implied violence. Some of the camera angles are quite modern and unusual (punches into the camera, walking into camera to end scene, female character stepping over male characters outstretched legs, etc.) Censorship of EVERYTHING was the norm in the 50s. I don't know how this one made it past the censors but I'm glad it did - it's a quirky gem for film noir fans LK

Outstanding 1955 Classic

Always enjoy any film dealing with the Mike Hammer character and for some reason missed viewing this film and was completely taken by surprise at how violent and cruel this film was for the Year 1955. Ralph Meeker, (Mike Hammer), "Winter Kills" gives an outstanding performance who stops for a woman running straight down a dark road with only a trench coat and nothing on underneath. This gal, was Cloris Leachman who managed to get Mike Hammer deeply involved with a very interesting story. Albert Dekker, (Dr. G.E. Soberin), "Suddenly, Last Summer", plays a very sinister role along with Paul Stewart, (Carl Evello),"SOB",'91, and both of them manage to use all kinds of tortures to accomplish their goals, a pair of pliers on a sweet young gal. There is a secret that is revealed at the ending of this picture which will blow your Mind Away. Enjoy this really great film from 1955 which was really way a head of its times.
Sleazy, tawdry B-noir doesn't get any sleazier or tawdrier than RobertAldrich's jazzy and astonishingly entertaining "Kiss Me Deadly." Thisfilm was released late in the life cycle of the film noir genre. By1958 and Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil," true noir would be just aboutwashed up. Any noir film from that point forward would beself-consciously aware that it was tipping its hat to an establishedgenre. But "Deadly" came out when films still didn't have to work atbeing noirish---they just WERE, and dazzlingly so.

Born-to-play-a-bully Ralph Meeker plays tough-guy detective MikeHammer, who's in the wrong place at the wrong time and picks up amysterious panic-stricken girl (Cloris Leachman), who's just escapedfrom an asylum. From that moment forward, he finds himself tangled upin a barely lucid plot, in which a bunch of baddies want to get theirhands on something the girl either had or knew about. Hammer doesn'tknow what it is, but he knows that if so many people want it, it'ssomething he probably wants too, and the race for the great "whatsit"is on.

If you wanted to teach a film class about the look and attitude of afilm noir, you couldn't pick a better film than this one. I foundmyself on a recent viewing of this film pausing my DVD player andstudying the frame (because, sadly, this is what I do in my sparetime), rehearsing in my mind what I would tell a class about anyparticular composition. And aside from the style, the film is steepedin noir sentiment--it's not simply cynical, like the glossier studionoirs of the 40's; it's downright apocryphal. It's not simply one manundone by the vengeful forces of fate here, but an entire civilizationon the brink of extinction.

So pop this in and have a great time with it--feel free to quote itliberally, as there are plenty of juicy lines worth quoting. But as youwatch it, you might want to stay away from the windows, for as MikeHammer's hot-to-trot sometime girlfriend, sometime secretary Veldasays, someone may "blow you a kiss."

Grade: A+
This late entry into the film noir genre has some harsh and memorablescenes and an ending unlike any other film noir. Of course, most ofthose weren't made during the A-Bomb scares of the mid 1950s, as thiswas.

The movie features a tough, no-nonsense Mike Hammer-like private eye,played well by Ralph Meeker, whose tough-guy dialog is a little datedbut still fun to hear. This is one of those noirs in which everyone isa tough-talking, tough-acting mug and one never knows who to trust.Except for Cloris Leachman, who is only in the first quick (buthaunting) opening scene, the females in here are unfamiliar actressesbut people with interesting faces and personalities.

That opening with Leachman is a real attention-grabber and is one ofthe best starts I've ever seen in a crime movie. It's very creepy, asis the unique ending. I also appreciated the cinematography in here alot more once the DVD was issued.
A crucial influence on what would become the French new wave, an irresistibly seedy trip through the Los Angeles underworld, and a valuable artifact of Cold War anxiety.

edgy, violent '50s noir

I have to admit, I have always found Ralph Meeker sexy, and he is hot as all get-out as Mike Hammer in "Kiss Me Deadly." He's very Brandoesque, and in fact, followed Brando as Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar on Broadway. He makes a tough Mike Hammer in a tough movie that doesn't let up on the violence or the sexual innuendo. I was never sold on Spillane himself as Hammer and I actively hated Stacy Keach in the TV series, which seemed a little too macho and chauvinistic for the times. In the black and white '50s, it feels just right, if a little more brass knuckles than other films in the genre.

Hammer spends the movie trying to find out the secret that a hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman) was killed for, and all she's left him is a clue, "Remember Me." As people die to the left and right of him, Hammer can only hope he's left standing by the end of the movie.

The ending was very tense and exciting, although I don't believe it was very realistic. At that point, it almost takes on the ambiance of a horror film.

Robert Aldrich gives the film a very fast-paced direction and wonderful atmosphere. Leachman is "introduced" in this film, and she's recognizable immediately. Gaby Rodgers as Lily gives what can only be described as a bizarre performance. Leachman is really the only likable, sympathetic character in the film.

Of note is the early version of an answering machine, which I either saw in one other film, or I saw this movie before - but it's great, an old reel to reel tape recorder mounted on a wall.

One thing I wondered about - when Hammer is being followed at night, the clock says 2:15, so one assumes it's 2:15 a.m. But it seems like everyone is awake - when he gets to the apartment house, the landlord is cleaning the room out and an old man is bringing in a trunk. The clock is in several shots - it says 2:20 also, I believe - so it's not a mistake. Hmmm. Perhaps I missed something, so distracted was I by steamy Ralph Meeker.
Robert Aldrich was a no-nonsense film director. When he undertook thedirection of this film, little did he know it was going to become theextraordinary movie it turned out to be. The fame seems to have come byits discovery in France, as it usually is the case. Based on MickeySpillane's novel and adapted by Al Bezzerides, the movie has an uniquestyle and it's recommended viewing for fans of the film noir genre.

Right from the start, the film gets our imagination as we watch a youngwoman running along a California highway. That sequence proved Mr.Aldrich's ability to convey the idea of a disturbed young woman thatseems to have escaped from a mental institution. The plot complicatesitself as Hammer learns that Christine, the young woman, has died. Hedecides to investigate, which is what he does best.

Some excellent comments have been submitted to this forum, so we willnot even try to expand in the action but will only emphasize in thetremendous visual style Mr. Aldrich added to the film, which seems tobe its main attraction. For a fifty year old film, it still has a crisplook to it thanks to the impressive black and white cinematography ofErnest Lazlo, who had a keen eye to show us Hammer's world as he makesit come alive. The great musical score by Frank DeVol fits perfectlywith the atmosphere of the L.A. of the fifties.

Ralph Meeker made an excellent contribution as Mike Hammer. Hedominates the film with his presence. Albert Decker, Paul Stewart,Miriam Carr, Maxine Cooper, Fortuno Bonanova, and especially ClorisLeachman, in her screen debut, make this film the favorite it hasbecome.

Fans of the genre can thank Mr. Aldrich for making a film that didn'tpretend to be anything, yet has stayed as a favorite all these years.