Urban Cinefile
"There are two sides to me; one is a sort of a rat, a quiet introvert who sits alone in Chinese restaurants reading Private Eye, and the other is something which is almost precisely like a politician, somebody who works the room."  -writer and film maker Bob Ellis
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

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Driving through the night, tough guy private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) picks up a hysterical woman, Christina (Cloris Leachman), who warns him to 'remember me' before the car is forced off the road. He's unconscious when their bodies are put back in the car and it's pushed off the nearest cliff. She dies in the accident, but he survives, and sets out to find out who she was. The FBI warns him off, but Hammer persists. His car mechanic friend is killed and his secretary kidnapped, and so is he. He escapes, and finds out that Christina swallowed a key of great importance. He forces the morgue attendant to give him the key and tracks down the explosive box it opens.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The brutality of the film's characters and its scenario are shocking enough today, but in 1955, they were gobsmacking. Hailed as one of the great noir films that took the genre to its ultimate conclusion, Kiss Me Deadly is actually more than that -and more than its posters suggest.

The main image is a man kissing the neck of a woman in a low cut dress, her head thrown back. In her right hand, she holds a gun, loosely, pointing down. Surrounding this image are smaller drawings; one of two men wrestiling, both holding guns. Another shows a woman sitting on the floor, her dress slipping off her shoulders...and another of a kiss, this time the man dangling the gun by its trigger guard.

Altogether, a picture of tough guys, great dames and loads of gunplay. But this is slightly misleading, aiming for the simplest buttons in our psyche.

While Kiss Me Deadly has all of that, it also has a payoff drawn directly from the apocalyptic fears of the Cold War. Manhattan Project...Los Alamos...Trinity; these are the key words that signal the change in the film's setting from regular crime to nuclear danger. But on the way to its ending, director Robert Aldrich makes it an unremittingly hazardous experience, with a hero you wouldn't want to have as a friend, and a sense of dread so palpable that cinematographer Ernest Laszlo captures it on film.

Even in black and white it is a colourful experience. Style and substance are brought together in this acidic work, relentlessly downbeat yet mesmerising with its fast paced drama, edgy story and bruised characters in search of answers they won't like finding.

Published: July 15, 2004

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(US, 1955)

CAST: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Juano Hernandez, Wesley Addy, Marian Carr, Marjorie Bennett, Maxine Cooper, Cloris Leachman

DIRECTOR: Robert Aldrich

SCRIPT: A.I. Bezzerides (novel by Mickey Spillane)

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

PRESENTATION: Aspect ratio - 1.66:1 Letterbox; Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound; Spanish & French subtitles



DVD RELEASE: July 14, 2004

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