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Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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

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

  • 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:
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: June 21, 2011
    • Run Time: 106 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B004S801ZE
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,862 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Kiss Me Deadly (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    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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    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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    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.
    1 Comment 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    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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