Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kiss Me Deadly Review


Kiss Me Deadly, 1955
Reviewed By: Dan S.
Directed By: Robert Aldrich
Written By: A.I. Bezzerides
Starring: Ralph Meeker, Maxine Cooper, Cloris Leachman, Albert Dekker
Language: English

With cheesy music cues, stationary camerawork, and conservative editing, Kiss Me Deadly  is very much a budget movie of its time. With the exception of a few on location scenes in downtown Los Angeles, the mostly nocturnal action is usually confined to cramped interior apartment sets. The nightmarish opening stands out as the most elaborate and stylized sequence, setting the strange and seedy tone of the movie nicely. But while there is nothing atypical or overly impressive about the look of the rest of the movie the fun performances, unusually violent protagonist, and bizarre plot twists elevate this otherwise modest production. The script is dialogue heavy and the stylized banter is certainly a product of its times but it is also amusing and witty. There are a few betrayals, kidnappings, and other noir clich├ęs that spice up the plot, but ultimately its the weird apocalyptic elements introduced in the climatic final act that leave the biggest impression, especially the original shocking ending. Unfortunately, the newly restored ending found on the DVD release lacks the same punch.

The action is spacious by modern standards but still in great abundance and fairly frequent as leading man Ralph Meeker abuses would be assassins and informants with cringe inducing smacks and punches; the sadistic glee on his face when engaging in said violence being an interesting and particularly unsettling detail to his performance. Considering his complete lack of empathy for anyone around him, Mike Hammer would be thoroughly unlikable if he wasn't so naturally cool and badass. The rest of the movie is populated by rather horny dames and a huge memorable cast of weirdoes that are as strange looking as they are written. The mystery that drives the movie really isn't that important, it's all just an excuse for Hammer to cruise around the city in his hip sports car and terrorize/manipulate anyone he thinks can help him crack the case. Lynch and Tarantino took more than a few notes here.


Rating:

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