22 May 2008

Kiss Me, Deadly

I won't attempt a review: read Bryan Schingle in The Thrilling Detective instead. We added the DVD of this 1955 film noir to the collection recently. It is a wild and wonderful ride. Much of the footage involves car scenes, so you get this jumpy, nervous feeling as Mike Hammer bulls his way through all the bad guys and crazy chicks. The Ralph Meeker performance captures Spillane's protagonist in all his sadistic glory. The script by A.I. Bezzerides spins off into sci-fi land with a box of deadly radioactive material that ultimately causes the climactic conflagration. It was the 50s, everyone was freaked about The Bomb, and the movie captures that. We have lots of psycho-killers and jihadists today to make paranoid films about. Back then they had the Mafia and The Bomb, and Kiss Me, Deadly has both. Hammer has a wall-mounted reel-to-reel tape machine connected to his phone, another little SF touch. That sort of thing was not, of course, commonplace in 1955. I found it funny that Hammer screened his calls!

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