Kiss Me Deadly


Ralph Meeker, Cloris Leachman, Albert Dekker,

Robert Aldrich melted down the B detective thriller into a vision of Armageddon: Kiss Me Deadly was years ahead of its time in being so very audaciously about its time—and place. From the opening sequence—a desperate ride through nowhere shot in glistening blacks and not much white—Aldrich and cinematographer Ernest Laszlo evoke a world that is not quite recognizable yet is frighteningly familiar. It is Los Angeles. Tackiness here is palpable, from the shabby-sturdy streets of Bunker Hill to the more vulnerable Laurel Canyon. And forget Malibu; it’s gone, man. The sincerely deadpan acting of Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer offers a nihilistic antihero whose mediocrity is well met by the company he keeps. (The one sensitive character in the film is institutionalized.) In a plot played out in paranoid glances and unanswered questions, at once comic-book naive and amazingly cynical, the search is not for jewels or statuettes or even drugs, but for a lead-lined box containing a small atomic bomb. Mere greed is a thing of the past. Welcome to Alphaville.

Judy Bloch
  • A. I. Bezzerides
Based On
  • the novel by Mickey Spillane
  • Ernest Laszlo
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 106 mins
  • Park Circus
Additional Info
  • international version with original ending

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