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146 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great P.I. noir films, with the restored ending!
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...
Published on March 19, 2004 by Claude Avary

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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Kiss Me Deadly" displayed the developed Aldrich style...
"Kiss Me Deadly" had few similarities with Spillane's story about a gang of dope traffickers... Instead Aldrich reworks the plot so that the criminals are mixed up in the theft of priceless and high1y dangerous radioactive material which they are planning to smuggle to an unnamed power... The complicated story begins with Hammer picking up a scared girl on a lonely road...
Published on January 3, 2007 by Roberto Frangie


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146 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great P.I. noir films, with the restored ending!, March 19, 2004
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly (DVD)
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. Hammer sets out to find out what's up; not because he cares what happened to the girl, but because he sniffs out big money and he'd like to get the guys who wrecked his sports car! Hammer finds himself in a violent quest to locate an object that everyone desires: a package called `The Great Whatsit.' The Great Whatsit isn't a meaningless red herring or Hitchcock McGuffin, however. Its contents are the great surprise of the plot, and the perfect exclamation point on a movie taking place in a chaotic world that seems to be falling apart. I won't tell what the Great Whatsit is (and shame on the reviewers here who have!), but...oh wow!
And this brings us to the issue of the ending, and the only extra on this disc. (Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil the ending.) For years, "Kiss Me Deadly" had a mysteriously abrupt finale that many people praised for its surreal, weird quality. This was how I first saw it. However, in 1997 the original ending was discovered in Aldrich's personal print of the film by editor Glenn Erickson and film noir scholar Alain Silver. Apparently, an accident involving a careless projectionist snipped off part of the ending, so what we had enjoyed and critiqued for years was actually a mistake! The new ending shown on this disc fortunately doesn't change the tone of the film: it's still pretty astonishing, filled with a brilliant use of light and sound effects. However, there's still something about that abrupt ending that gets to people. The DVD contains the option to watch this original abrupt ending so you can make up your mind which one `feels' more right to you: what the director intended, or the mistake that many embraced as a stroke of brilliance.
No matter which ending you like, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a fabulous piece of brutal crime cinema. The photography is amazing, filled with weird and surreal images and crazy camera angles. The performances are all dead-on: Meeker's ugly Mike Hammer; Albert Dekker as the sinister and poetry spouting Dr. Soberin; Wesley Addy as Hammer's police acquaintance Pat, the sole voice of reason in the mess; Paul Stewart as a smarmy L.A. gangster; the late Jack Elam as freaky thug; and Gaby Rodgers in the film's strangest performance as the distant, weird, but ultimately very dangerous (to every living thing on the planet!) Lily Carver.
If you love detective films and film noir, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a great must-see classic. For a 1950s film, it is surprisingly violent and far ahead of its time. And either end will leave you shivering in shock. If only they had the guts to end films this way today!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Mmmm...look at all the goodies!", June 19, 2000
By 
D. Hartley (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [VHS] (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 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VA VA VOOM - PAOW !, November 11, 2001
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly (DVD)
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
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [VHS] (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
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.

The Mike Hammer of Spillane's novels is an occasionally brutal, rough-edged hero, while this film's version is almost the very definition of an antihero. The movie's Hammer is deftly summed up in one line: "What's in it for me?"

Despite this deliberate misrepresentation of the character and the filmmakers' choice to almost completely discard the novel's plot, KISS ME DEADLY does portray the dark, twisted, Fifties noir universe of Spillane's novels better than any other film or TV adaptation of his work. Aldrich's direction is appropriately slick and stylized, and the cinematography of Ernest Lazlo perfectly captures the shadows and stark contrasts that visually represent the story's noir milieu.

The Criterion Blu-ray edition features a gorgeous, 1080p HD, 1.66:1 widescreen transfer that has undergone extensive digital restoration, removing virtually all evidence of print damage, dirt or wear. Contrast and detail are extraordinary, and far better than any previous home video release. I've owned this movie on VHS, laserdisc and DVD, and it has never looked this good before. Audio is in its original mono, but has been cleaned up, eliminating all pops and background hiss.

Supplemental features include an audio commentary by film historians Alain Silver and James Ursani, an odd video tribute to KISS ME DEADLY by REPO MAN director Alex Cox, excerpts from a 2005 documentary on screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides, a featurette on the locations used in the film, the alternate ending, and a slightly shortened version of the Max Allan Collins documentary, MIKE HAMMER'S MICKEY SPILLANE (originally part of the author/filmmaker's SHADES OF NOIR anthology film) covering the life and career of the legendary author. Finally, there's a 22-page booklet with extensive liner notes and articles about the film.

Ultimately, Aldrich & Bezzerides' KISS ME DEADLY tries to be an indictment of Spillane's work that also attempts to blatantly exploit the author's fame and popularity. The result is an "anti-Spillane" flick that somehow manages to depict his particular worldview better than any other. If you own any of the earlier editions of KISS ME DEADLY, the new Criterion version - though a bit pricey - is likely to be the definitive edition for the foreseeable future. It looks and sounds amazing, and is well worth trading up to. If you've never seen the film, and have any interest in 50s film noir, it is essential viewing.

Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic...but oh, so grim., April 25, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly (DVD)
Kiss Me Deadly is stylish and moves along nicely but whichever ending you choose, its unrelenting in its grimness.
I disagree that Meeker portrays Mike Hammer as a bad guy. He gives everybody what they've got coming; its just that he enjoys it.
Don't want to give away the ending but let's just say it has more in common with science fiction than film noir. Those expecting a happy ending should get a different DVD.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant realist late film noir, August 27, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Kiss Me Deadly seems light years ahead of the studio made film noirs of just ten years earlier. Seventy-five per-cent of it is shot on location in Los Angeles circa mid fifties. Likewise the performances by Ralph Meeker and company are gritty and disturbingly honest. Meeker is the master of understatement and his Mickey Spillane is by far the quintessential reading of this pulp detective. Meeker inhabits his roles so thoroughly it's hard to pick him out in his various screen performances. The great fun of this cienimatic ride is following Spillane thru seedy L.A. and meeting the underworld characters, B-girls, and working-class joes that populate his world. Hold on to your hats for the surprise ending as Spillane follows the links to the contraband he was hired to find.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among the noirest-B&W voltage to the incinerating climax, July 14, 2010
By 
Alicia Czechowski (Baltimore Maryland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly (DVD)
"Kiss Me Deadly" -among the noirest. Spillaine, Bezzerides and Meeeker triumph. This is the way movies, cinema, film, flicks were meant to be-branded into the ether forever.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's 'The Bomb', July 11, 2006
By 
Craig Connell (Lockport, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly (DVD)
This late entry into the film noir genre has some harsh and memorable scenes and an ending unlike any other film noir. Of course, most of those weren't made during the A-Bomb scares of the mid 1950s, as this was.

The movie features a tough, no-nonsense Mike Hammer-like private eye, played well by Ralph Meeker, whose narration is a little dated but fun to hear. This is one of those noirs in which everyone is a tough-talking, tough-acting mug and one never knows who to trust. Except for Cloris Leachman, who is only in the first quick (but haunting) opening scene, the females in here are unfamiliar actresses but people with interesting faces and personalities.

That opening with Leachman is a real attention-grabber and is one of the best starts I've ever seen in a crime movie. It's very creepy, as is the unique ending. I also appreciated the cinematography in here a lot more once the DVD was issued.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I remembered, March 17, 2005
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly (DVD)
This DVD is a great print, and so much more enjoyable than other versions. Sure, the film has flaws, but Ralph Meeker is an impressive Mike Hammer. Tough, yet easily friendly - notice his genuine friendship with Nick, the garage owner, and the lovely Velda. Notice the look of genuine glee when he is the tough as nails PI when he puts the blackmailing coroner's hand in a drawer, and positively enjoys slamming it over and over. Greedy, with an understandable self interest, this time, the PI bites off more than he can chew.
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Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection)
Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection) by Robert Aldrich (DVD - 2011)
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