Skip to main content

KISS ME DEADLY

USA, 1955 (MIFF 1998, Kiss Me Deadly)

Director: Robert Aldrich

A night-time encounter with Cloris Leachman, clad only in a raincoat, leads Mike Hammer on a legality-be-damned search for a mysterious suitcase containing 'the Great What's-lt' in this stunning, rule-breaking adaptation of the Mickey Spillane pulp.

Ralph Meeker makes an indelible mark as Mike Hammer, Spillane's new breed of private eye whose head is as thick as his hide. Unhampered by codes of honour, he makes his two-fisted way through a maze of mean streets, muggings and kiss-offs to the final apocalyptic vision of the femme fatale wreathed in avenging flames.

Aldrich's cult thriller was way ahead of its time in its brutal, nihilistic values and made a significant impression on a generation of filmmakers including one Quentin Tarantino as evidenced in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta opens a glowing suitcase.

The version screening as part of this spotlight is the previously unseen director's cut. Aldrich kept his own personal print which was not subject to the editing enforced by United Artists, the film's distributor. This version features a slightly different, and more satisfying, climax. - Paul Harris

'Kiss Me Deadly tracks the sleaziest private investigator in American movies through a nocturnal labyrinth to a white-hot vision of cosmic annihilation. From the perversely backward title crawl (outrageously accompanied by orgasmic heavy breathing) through the climactic explosion - eschewing straight exposition for a jarring succession of bizarre images, bravura sound matching and encoded riddles." - Village Voice

See also...

FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE

Five college students - Madison, Novak, Keith, Moore and Mathews - team up and joke about a robbery of Harold's Club in Reno. It starts off as an intellectual prank, but soon ends up the real thing ... More »

THE LINE UP

"Psycho-killers Julian and Dancer (Keith and Wallach), are hired to recover a heroin haul. Among their professional touches is noting down their victim's last words ("Why be greedy?"). But they can ... More »

PUSHOVER

"Money isn't dirty, just people." ... A low-rent Double Indemnity; cool blonde moll Kim Novak (in her first major screen role at Columbia) stirs up a sexual heat similar to that of Barbara Stanwyck ... More »

SCANDAL SHEET

Hard-nosed editor Crawford takes over an ailing newspaper and uses a double murder to boost his tabloid's circulation. He then discovers that his hero worshipping cub reporter-protege (Derek) has ... More »

Bullfight

An attempt to integrate the grace and violence of actual bull-fighting with a modern dance interpretation of it. ... More »

OTHELLO

Othello was filmed over many months, in ... many places and under trying conditions. ... The start was made in 1949: rehearsals in ... Paris, costumes fitted in Rome, players sum- ... moned to ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director