January 06, 2013

Kiss Me Deadly

An overrated film noir that tries to cash in on the politics of the atom bomb. This film's chief asset is the banal hunk Ralph Meeker as private eye Mike Hammer (the film is based on the book and the character created by pulp novelist Mickey Spillane). The violence is certainly more potent than most films of its kind up to that point, but the film is so haphazardly put together that it's hard to follow all the rabbit trails of screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides' plot. Kiss Me Deadly labors on toward a ridiculous ending that reeks of bad B sci-fi, and the innuendos that pepper the film fail to create any lasting sparks. All the femmes fatale in the world can't save the film from its peculiar mediocrity and the coterie of annoying touches of its director, Robert Aldrich: from the stupid backwards opening titles--hemmed in by Cloris Leachman's nonstop heavy breathing (she plays a distraught asylum escapee who Mike Hammer picks up in the middle of the night, setting the plot into motion) to that cartoonish Greek mechanic who howls "Va-va-va-voom!" incessantly. Written by A. I. Bezzerides. With Maxine Cooper, Albert Dekker, Juano Hernandez, Wesley Addy, Marian Carr, Gaby Rodgers, and Nick Dennis. 1955. 106 min. ½

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