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Robert Aldrich's "Kiss Me Deadly"
May 18, 2011 5:10 PM   Subscribe

At the core of Kiss Me Deadly are speed and violence.

Previous posts on Mickey Spillane and Ralph Meeker.
posted by Trurl (23 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
- If we don't make it to the bus stop...
- We will.
- If we don't, remember me.
posted by Phssthpok at 5:18 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Marsellus Wallace is going to want that case back.
posted by The World Famous at 5:20 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the core of Kiss Me Deadly are mousse and fog machines.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:26 PM on May 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


The hitchhiking nearlynude chick in the opening sequence, wit' de heavy breathin':

CLORIS LEACHMAN augh

Seriously, *great* film.
posted by mwhybark at 5:27 PM on May 18, 2011


Oh, you don't want to look in the trunk.
posted by Artw at 5:27 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the core of Kiss Me Deadly are speed and violence.

Or contempt and disgust - Charles Taylor's recent NYT capsule review of the Criterion reissue nails it, I think:

The movie’s propulsive thuggishness is a result of how much Aldrich hated Spillane’s novel and his detective ... [he] deploys his directorial flash as a weapon against a postwar culture that has confused nihilistic force with strength.

Ernest Laszlo’s cinematography unites the clean, sunlit lines of Hammer’s swanky bachelor pad with the vertical shadows and bars of Los Angeles’s flophouses and saloons and deserted nighttime streets. There, at least, Aldrich seems to be saying, the sleaze isn’t pretending to be anything else.

posted by ryanshepard at 5:41 PM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


An adaptation of the novel indeed. The weirdest part was the totally movie-invented ending (spoiler alert) in which the stolen case contained radioactive material suitable for an atomic bomb. Sign of the times (1955). In Spillaine's novel, it was good old-fashioned drugs.
posted by binturong at 5:42 PM on May 18, 2011


"At the core of Kiss Me Deadly are speed and violence."

HELL YEAH THEY ARE.

For those of us who have extensive experience with crazy ladies of a particular flavor, Gaby Rodgers as Gabrielle was haunting and all too evocative of times we'd rather forget.

Goddamn, it's a brilliant fucking movie. Pure genius to have Spillane adapted by somebody who appreciated how terrible a writer Spillane was.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:03 PM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Kiss Me Deadly is so, so good. I'm massively geeked for the Criterion release next month.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:12 PM on May 18, 2011


As a soundtrack guy, I'd like to give a shout out to Frank DeVol's work here. His "Pandora's Box" cue is particular is absolutely terrifying.

And in case the name seems familiar, he is in fact the "Music by DeVol" in the end credits of The Brady Bunch.
posted by Trurl at 6:29 PM on May 18, 2011


A very bizarre but brilliant 1950s Los Angeles noir, everything that's perfect about the genre. I love Borde and Chaumeton's description (nobody writes better about noir than the French):

This is the desperate flip side of the film that opened the noir series fourteen years earlier, "The Maltese Falcon."

The theme is the same: the search for a treasure, a statue or an iron strongbox. The hero is the same: a private detective, both tough and vulnerable, who adores pounding a face, pummeling a belly, and is the victim marked out by fate of she who will remain his objective counterpart, the grasping, desirable and frigid female.

But between 1941 and 1955 ... the tone has changed. A savage lyricism hurls us into a world in manifest decomposition, governed by dissolute living and brutality; to these intrigues of wild men and weaklings, the film offers the most radical of solutions: nuclear apocalypse.

posted by blucevalo at 6:59 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Film Noir of the Week has the lowdown on the restored ending.

This is some serious film geekery.

va-va-voom

Here's details on the Criterion edition.
posted by warbaby at 7:10 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd had that video on for about a minute and a half when my wife asked me if I was watching porn. That breathing!
posted by agentofselection at 7:13 PM on May 18, 2011


nobody writes better about noir than the French

They're the best critics of American jazz too. Why is that?

If there are any French cultural artifacts that Americans appreciate better than the French, I can't think of them offhand.
posted by Trurl at 7:14 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Film Noir of the Week has the lowdown on the restored ending.

Fascinating stuff.

The abrupt ending is far and away the better one - whether it was what Aldrich intended or not.
posted by Trurl at 7:36 PM on May 18, 2011


Related: the 2nd link is from Goodfella's top 100 noir films list, posted previously.

I'm reading this thread with a hand over my eyes, since Kiss Me Deadly is the last film in his top 30 that I haven't seen yet. If it wasn't already at the top of my Netflix queue I'd move it there now.
posted by mediareport at 7:37 PM on May 18, 2011


I just noticed that today is the anniversary of the film's release in 1955. I had no idea.
posted by Trurl at 7:59 PM on May 18, 2011


The movie’s propulsive thuggishness is a result of how much Aldrich hated Spillane’s novel and his detective .

That's really interesting. I have to agree that Kiss Me Deadly is awesome but Spillane's novels are mostly shit.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:35 PM on May 18, 2011


Not about Lita Ford. Damn.

I'll RTFAs anyways .... and download the song ....
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:40 PM on May 18, 2011


I first discovered Kiss Me Deadly ages ago, as I was aimlessly surfing the dial, and came across the end of this crazy-ass movie where some beach house was exploding light and there was this horrific screeching noise and all kinds of hell was breaking loose. I thought it looked like a real gem of a sci-fi movie I'd never seen. Unfortunately, I never caught the name of it.

Then, a couple of years later, while aimlessly surfing again, I came across the same movie, only more toward the middle. This time, it looked more like a detective movie, but then there was this wacky briefcase that exploded light and a screeching noise as if from a real gem of a sci-fi movie I'd only seen a clip from. But, damn, if that wasn't one cool detective. This time, though, I caught the name of the film.

I've seen it umpteen times now, and never tire of it. Kiss Me Deadly is solidly on my "If I come across it while flipping channels, I will stop surfing and watch it." list. It's such a damned good movie. TCM had it on just recently and I gladly sat through it again. And, damn, if Velda isn't just the hottest gal-friday evar.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was made aware of "Kiss Me Deadly" because of Lita Ford. Va-va-va-voom!
posted by Rash at 8:18 AM on May 19, 2011


Kiss Me Deadly was exactly the sort of film adaptation Spillane's work deserved.
posted by dortmunder at 9:08 AM on May 19, 2011


The weirdest part was the totally movie-invented ending (spoiler alert) in which the stolen case contained radioactive material suitable for an atomic bomb. Sign of the times (1955). In Spillaine's novel, it was good old-fashioned drugs.

From warbaby's link (and new to me):

[Screenwriter] A.I. Bezzerides ... invented the idea of an atomic secret to replace the book's shipment of drugs, as the censors wouldn't allow movies about drug trafficking.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:16 PM on May 19, 2011


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