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Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection) (1955)

Ralph Meeker , Cloris Leachman , Robert Aldrich  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Meeker, Cloris Leachman, Gaby Rodgers, Maxine Copper, Albert Dekker
  • Directors: Robert Aldrich
  • Writers: Mickey Spillane
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: June 21, 2011
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004S801ZE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,810 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

New high-definition restoration

Audio commentary by film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini

New video tribute from director Alex Cox (Repo Man, Walker)

Excerpts from The Long Haul of A. I. Bezzerides, a 2005 documentary on the Kiss Me Deadly screenwriter

  • Excerpts from Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, a 1998 documentary on the author whose book inspired the film
  • A look at the film’s locations
  • Altered ending
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman and a 1955 reprint by director Robert Aldrich

  • Editorial Reviews

    Additional Features

    The grimy, none-more-black end of film noir, Robert Aldrich's 1955 masterwork has never looked better, courtesy of a fantastic new Criterion transfer that burrows even further into the dark. (Best visual reveal: the wild, Woody Woodpeckerish jut of hair at the back of Ralph Meeker's head, somehow signifying both the movie's New Wave futuristic vibe, and a hint that the hero's not quite as well put together as he imagines.) Although the main draw for fans might be the inclusion of the recently discovered (and even more apocalyptic) original ending, the disc also sports an extremely informative, slightly dry commentary by Aldrich scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini, as well as a too-brief appreciation by devout fan Alex Cox, whose Repo Man lifts one of the earlier movie's most indelible images. Most fascinating, however, are a pair of documentaries about author Mickey Spillane and screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides, two crusty guys from the streets who make no effort to hide their absolute disdain for the other's work. Watching these two immovable objects ram against each other only makes the film's unsettlingly unstable fission even more magnificent. Absolute 3-D pow, as one of the characters says. --Andrew Wright

    Product Description

    In this atomic adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel, directed by Robert Aldrich (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Dirty Dozen), the good manners of the 1950s are blown to smithereens. Ralph Meeker (Paths of Glory, The Dirty Dozen) stars as snarling private dick Mike Hammer, whose decision one dark, lonely night to pick up a hitchhiking woman sends him down some terrifying byways. Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterpiece as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    145 of 147 people found the following review helpful
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    Robert Aldrich's 1955 detective thriller, "Kiss Me Deadly," came at the end of the American classic film noir cycle, and shows the genre at its most violent, surreal, cruel, cynical, and visually bizarre. It's the last great explosive moment of the classic era of film noir -- and I do mean explosive. This is one detective film, like "Chinatown," which you won't soon forget.
    Aldrich and screenwriter A. I. Bezzirides took on Mickey Spillane's popular P.I. Mike Hammer, but aside from keeping the basic plot outline of the original novel, they completely changed the nature of the character in a very reactionary move. Spillane's Mike Hammer is a New York detective-avenger, a self-righteous vigilante who deals out justice when the paralyzed forces of the law can do nothing: he's a vicious knight on a mean-spirited quest to right wrongs through brute force. (The title of the first Hammer novel, "I, the Jury" pretty much sums up his attitude.) The movie relocates Hammer to Los Angeles and turns him into a shallow con-artist who only cares about his car and his looks. He's a lousy detective too, relying on knocking people around for information, often innocent inoffensive folks, and never really paying attention to the important details of the case. His detective work is entirely matrimonial, where he and his `assistant' Velda put the squeeze on couples to blackmail them. Hammer's motto is simple: "What's in it for me?" Ralph Meeker is perfect in the role, looking as if someone carved him out of slab of meat.
    No doubt, in this story Hammer is in way over his head...if only he knew it. He picks up a nearly naked girl (Cloris Leachman in an early role) who throws herself in front of his sports car. Later, they're run off the road, and faceless gangsters torture her to dearth and leave Hammer for dead.
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    31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars "Mmmm...look at all the goodies!" June 19, 2000
    Format:VHS Tape
    Absolute film noir heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it.) A film so visually and stylistically arresting that the somewhat intricate and confusing plot becomes a moot point, one can't help but watch this 1955 (!) Robert Aldrich masterwork with a sense of awe. We may be in disagreement on the assessment of Jerry Lewis' "genius", but as for the importance of this film's influence on susbsequent cinema, I have to agree with the French on this one! Ralph Meeker's sneeringly existential and Brandoesque Mike Hammer persona in this film has been imitated many times but never matched.One interesting note: 1984's "punk-noir" classic "Repo Man" borrowed quite heavily from this film...make it a double bill some slow night and you'll be amazed and bemused!
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    49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars VA VA VOOM - PAOW ! November 11, 2001
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    Robert Aldrich's KISS ME DEADLY is one of these movies I watch every two or three years with the same pleasure. When I discovered it for the first time long ago, Film Noir meant Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hawks, James Cagney or John Huston to me. So imagine the shock KISS ME DEADLY gave me.
    Everything was so innovative in this movie from the initial credits rolling backwards over Cloris Leachman running half-naked on the road and gasping in Mike Hammer's car with a quite erotic intensity. From the sadistic torture scene of Christina Bailey to the character of Maxine -Velda- Cooper who helps Mike Hammer to nail adultery husbands by seducing them. From the secondary characters so well written that it seems that they all have a tremendously important role in the story.
    At last, the performance of Ralph -Mike Hammer- Meeker is so perfect that it's hard to imagine another actor in the role. I personally can't. And Nick Dennis, Mike Hammer's friend, whose onomatopeia are now part of Movie History. And, and...
    OK ! check for yourselves if you still don't know this movie. Superb copy with various subtitles, the alternate ending and the original trailer.
    A DVD zone your library.
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    16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of the genre! April 2, 1999
    By A Customer
    Format:VHS Tape
    This is easily one of the most outstanding pieces of film noir ever made. Ralph Meeker, (An actor who usually played bad guys.), plays a very anti-heroic Mike Hammer.
    The Mike Hammer that Meeker portrays is greedy and sadistic. He takes great pleasure inflicting pain on others, and stepping on as many toes as possible to get what he wants. With a lead character as trashy as the one Meeker portrays you can only imagine how cold-blooded the rest of the people in this movie are.
    "Kiss Me Deadly" is one of the more rarely seen classic detective pictures; this is a shame. From the very first shot of this picture, you can feel the crime-detective genre being pushed and beaten into directions no one has ever seen before.
    There are some people who did not understand the ending of this picture. It's simple: "Be careful what you go looking for, you might not like what you find."
    This is one wonderfully stylish, suspensful, and unusual motion picture. You owe it to yourself to check it out!
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Edition of a Noir Classic July 15, 2011
    Format:Blu-ray
    Arguably the finest film to be based on the writings of Mickey Spillane, director Robert Aldrich's KISS ME DEADLY (1955) has just received a new, restored and remastered release from Criterion on DVD and Blu-ray.

    L.A. "bedroom dick," Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) picks up a blonde in a trenchcoat named Christina (Cloris Leachman) that he finds running barefoot down a lonely road in the middle of the night. Shortly thereafter, his car is run off into a ditch, and he and his hitchhiker are abducted. The girl is tortured to death by unseen assailants, and both her body and the unconscious Hammer are put in his car and pushed off a cliff. Hammer survives and soon finds himself embroiled in a search to find a mysterious and valuable box - "the great whatsit" - a prize which he hopes will pay off big. Unfortunately, the slick P.I. is in over his head, playing a game far bigger than he can imagine.

    Director Aldrich and screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides made no secret of their dislike of Spillane's novel and the character of Mike Hammer, who they perceived as a stupid thug. So their story portrays Hammer exactly that way, and ignores the various virtues of the literary version. In the film, Hammer is a sleazy operator who uses his secretary Velda (Maxine Cooper) to entrap married men in sexual honey traps, enabling him to go to their wives with incriminating - and profitable - photos. Despite Christina being murdered while in his company, he doesn't pursue the case out of any noble effort to find justice for the girl; he just smells an opportunity to make a score. Like his literary counterpart, this Hammer is often violent, but unlike the Hammer of the books, he's portrayed as a cowardly sadist who only beats up on those weaker than himself.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Kiss Me Deadly is must see film noir!
    This is a well crafted and hard hitting film, an excellent piece of film noir directed by Robert Aldrich.. Read more
    Published 18 days ago by Monte Gilliam
    5.0 out of 5 stars A noir classic, which gives a good picture of its time.
    One of the noir classics. It gives an interesting view of 1950's Los Angeles, with such details as phone answering machines the size of dishwashers. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by steamduck43
    2.0 out of 5 stars Greatly overrated Film Noir
    I know this film is touted as one of the best of the Film Noir genre, but I was a bit disappointed. While an interesting take on the Mickey Spillane story, I found Meeker to be a... Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Famespear
    5.0 out of 5 stars excellent film noir thriller
    excellent film noir thriller. very complex, i need to watch it 50 times in a row. i think i will! very good quality dvd! very crisp, very clear.
    Published 1 month ago by David C.
    5.0 out of 5 stars THIS MOVIE IS A HOOT!!!
    Absolutely love this movie. Ask a polite question, get no answer. Offer them a fin and still no answer? B***h slap them into submission!! Read more
    Published 3 months ago by D. Campbell
    5.0 out of 5 stars Kiss Me Deadly
    Viewed this movie last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. A-1 condition, as was described. Delivered promptly. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by HH
    5.0 out of 5 stars "Stay away from the window. Someone might want to blow you a kiss."...
    This 1955 low-budget adaptation of a Mickey Spillane novel by A.I. Bezzerides stars Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by Allen Smalling
    1.0 out of 5 stars A not so good version of Mike Hammer.
    A not very believable, story, especially the character of Mike Hammer as a low life window peeper. Mr. Meeker as a tough guy? I kept expecting, him to cry any time he got hit.
    Published 6 months ago by Jonny D.
    5.0 out of 5 stars KISS ME, AWESOME
    Yet another great Criterion transfer. Solid audio commentary and extras docs are really informative and entertaining. Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Joker-scar
    4.0 out of 5 stars Aldrich Plays with the Genre
    KISS ME DEADLY, (1955). In this violent 106 minute black and white thriller, which is considered a classic of film noir, tough sleazy Los Angeles detective Mike Hammer (Ralph... Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
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