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84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot more to this than meets the eye...
Over thirty years ago, long, long before Sky had tied up new releases and the quality back catalogue, a film fan could educate him or herself through the simple expedient of watching terrestrial tv. Most nights from about 11 pm BBC2 was showing classics of British, world or US cinema. That's how I first stumbled on "Kiss Me Deadly" - a bored teenager flicking through the...
Published on 18 Mar 2007 by Mr. C. R. Martyr

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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All style and no substance
I have just watched this film, and although I enjoyed the style and the hard-boiled dialogue, I found the plot incomprehensible. Ralph Meeker is excellent as the rather unpleasant private detective Mike Hammer, but a lot of the performances are wooden and unconvincing, whilst the ending, which probably reflected the paranoia of the fifties, now just seems silly.
Published on 23 Jan 2011 by P. J. Beasley


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84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot more to this than meets the eye..., 18 Mar 2007
By 
Mr. C. R. Martyr "Colin Martyr" (Midlands, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
Over thirty years ago, long, long before Sky had tied up new releases and the quality back catalogue, a film fan could educate him or herself through the simple expedient of watching terrestrial tv. Most nights from about 11 pm BBC2 was showing classics of British, world or US cinema. That's how I first stumbled on "Kiss Me Deadly" - a bored teenager flicking through the very limited range of channels available. That turned out to be one of the most memorable film experiences of my life. Its been called the best film noir ever. Its fair to say that's probably wrong, but misses the point. As a late example (1955) it represents the apogee of film noir and to my mind you really can't begin to understand it until you understand the US in the fifties - affluent and expansive but paranoid and terrified. That's assuming (and this is apparently a matter of debate) that this unique film, and in particular its conclusion, came about in the way the film makers intended.

There's no real point in describing the plot - it's as unfathomable as most of the film noir genre - it's the style that counts. Then, three quarters of the way through, the film throws a real twist at you, leading inexorably to the final beachhouse scene. At that point, conventionality goes out of the window - along with the world and everything else...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Low budget noir that aims high, 26 July 2009
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
Spirited Mike Hammer noir thriller that takes you on a very twisty ride. The story is more convolute, more unfollowable than most Philip Marlowe thrillers, and that is saying something. Hammer is ofcourse a different man to Marlowe, more hands on and very streetwise, a blue collar type, ambitious and materialistic and less bothered by his scruples, operating at the lower end of the market. That's not to say he isn't a clever man and good at his work.

L.A. and California are the natural, original and most authentic Film Noir settings, and they are exploited beautifully once again here in KMD. The mix of wealth, crime, desirable women and dangerous men living out swanky lives with one or two secrets to hide is all there, giving alot of work for P.I.s. Hammer takes on a case that is out of the ordinary for him, when he bumps into a troubled woman...make of the rest what you will, but don't expect convention all the way.

Ralph Meeker isn't exactly one of the best known movie actors, and I struggled to think of another film I'd seen him in, but might look out for one or two now to watch. He was fantastic as the no-nonsense shamus with a job to do, a man who faces his adversaries head on and doesn't shy away from the rough stuff. (That's not to say that Marlowe didn't, but he was far less direct and more subtle about it.) Meeker gives his P.I. a fairly macho look and is obviously attractive to the ladies, but Mike Hammer is not a man to get too involved with his females, there is a cool mistrust of them and he handles them all with gloves.

Cool, edgy, slightly trashy feeling Noir, owing mainly to its tight budget, lack of big names and short filming schedule, yet it just feels right as a Noir. And despite little patches of incredibility in the narrative, and the general lack of gloss in production, this film entertains all the way. Aldrich does not hold back either in his direction, he gives the movie an adult feel, which really adds to the Noirness, this is a dark Noir. With the resourses it has, and the tortuous narrative it deploys, it does a fantastic job, and adds something new to the genre. Not a Big Sleep or Touch of Evil maybe, but still not a Noir to be sniffed at.
4.5
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Thriller, 25 Aug 2003
This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [VHS] (VHS Tape)
On the surface this is a well paced thriller from the dangerous days of the cold war. The bad guys and the good guys all play hardball and there's plenty of action on the way to a truly apocalyptic ending.
That's reason enough for watching, but if you look just under the surface there's more. The traditional sex-roles are held up to the light - male "toughness" and female "gentleness" - and both are found wanting in a world that doesn't forgive any mistakes.
Ralp Meeker's Mike Hammer is as close as you'll get to the the nasty original that Mickey Spillane wrote. (You keep thinking "this guy's the hero?".) But the film belongs to Gaby Rodgers, who was never in anything else, but should have got an Oscar for this - wow.
It's in black and white - but so are many of the best movies.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Noir at it's Deadliest!!, 1 Nov 2003
By 
S. Notarangelo "red10devil" (Bedford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
'Kiss Me Deadly' has to be one of the most exceptional film noirs of cinematic history. If ever there was a crime movie at its toughest, this is it!
Made in 1955 by director Robert Aldrich, this is, with the exception of 'Chinatown' and 'Double Indemnity', THE film noirs to end all film noirs (the film was actually made at the close of the film noir period in Hollywood). Starring a thuggish Ralph Meeker as private investigator Mike Hammer, the story is based on Mickey Spillane's pulp fiction story about a P.I who gets involved with a woman accidently and becomes caught up in events that spiral out of control. The thing that drives the story along is his hunt for the mysterious 'Pandora's Box', an ambiguous object that is only revealed at the end of the film, when Mike's search ends up further than he would have liked.
Shot with crazy, awkward camera angles, and a startlingly vivid opening to the movie, 'KMD' not only summed up what film noir movies were all about, it also influenced a whole generation after it. Even Quentin Tarantino has borrowed from the film, when the glowing briefcase John Travolta opens in 'Pulp Fiction' harks back to the glowing box Mike Hammer opens in this film. And this was a movie shot with a low budget and unrecognisable actors in under three weeks!!
If you're a fan of crime thrillers both old and new, you must purchase 'KMD'. From its beginning to its end (probably one of the best endings ever filmed), this has to be seen to be appreciated. This is one of my favourite films ever because of its striking realism and detail - A MUST BUY!!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top spot-low budget., 12 Dec 2006
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
Micky Spillane was not Doestoyevski, so you'd expect films of his detective fiction to be far from Oscar-winning works.

In this case,Ralph Meeker is perfect. As Mike Hammer, he is convincingly, by turns, slow on the uptake, brutal, brutalised, and unable to resist the notion the femme fatale, stunningly portrayed by Gaby Rogers, could just be innocent.

There's enough style and styialisation to stay with you and your remeberances of this film forever. Thankfully,it doesn't pad the film out, and never gets in the way of the action.

Robert Aldrich made some astonishly good films, and some good bad or indifferent that nobody understood. None of that need trouble you here-this is good v evil,black v white, but you won't cotton on to which is which until the very climax.

And that IS a climax!! I won't spoil it for you-it's just too intriguing a film not to own.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a terrible beauty, 16 Dec 2005
By 
digit "digit" (London, England) - See all my reviews
A great artwork. Appears at first to be a piece of low budget exploitation, but the sharp dialogue, moral ambiguity and intriguing plot machinations rope you to something at once more strange and ironical and more bitterly poignant than any other noir. Amidst the harsh words and fisticuffs, Christina Rossetti's elegaic poem 'Remember Me' emerges like a jewel in a mud puddle as both plot element (clue and relic of a dead woman) and thematic marker, playing wittily off Hammer's hardbitten materialistic pragmatism to reveal his tragic lack of self awareness, his apparent strength denying him access to transcendence. From there he appears more and more befuddled and vulnerable, a kind of angry everyman bewildered by a modernity encapsulated in the sealed box of nuclear material he's pursuing. One of the film's great achievements is to treat this not as contemporary issue but terrible, murderous beauty. Characters who open the box experience it's awful heat and are greeted with a flash of intense light - ultimately providing the source material for the lethal car boot in Alex Cox's 'Repo Man' and the exploding beach house in David Lynch's 'Lost Highway'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best screen Mike Hammer, 24 Feb 2013
By 
Allan Radbourne (Bridgwater, Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
All the television versions of Mickey Spillanes tough guy private eye inevitably soften the character and the storylines and there are not many big screen dramatisations to choose from. For this reviewer "Kiss Me Deadly" is the best of them and Ralph Meeker is particularly well cast. This version provides the complete ending and does portray Hammer as a hard man but, wisely, has the most violent moments take place out of sight. There is a good supporting cast, some moody cinemaphotography and good sense of period. This DVD delivers a good print at a good price and if you are looking for a convincing cinema dramatisation of a Mickey Spillane story, you are unlikely to do better than this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Archetype setting 50s noir, 13 Jun 2010
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
Tense, violent noir. Mike Hammer picks up woman wandering on desert road, gets caught in plot that leads to a stolen nuclear bomb. Some great shots, and a lot of 50s noir archetypes were set by this film. The ending is a bit silly and symbolically heavy handed at the same time, and some of the performances are over-the-top, but it's certainly enjoyable. Some critics consider it a masterpiece. I find that a stretch. But I did like it better on 2nd viewing, so maybe I'll return to it yet again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Kiss Me Deadly" on BLU RAY - Compatibility Issues For UK and EUROPEAN Buyers..., 25 Feb 2014
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Criterion Collection: Kiss Me Deadly [Blu-ray] [1955] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
At present this 1955 Noir favourite is available on BLU RAY in the States and France. But therein lies a problem for UK and European buyers…

The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play ‘all’ regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the ‘DVD’ front – that won’t help. The French issue (which will play on our machines) seems to have disappeared or been deleted...

Until such time as this 1955 black and white classic is given a Region B release by someone else – check your player has the capacity to play REGION A before you plum to buy the expensive Criterion issue…
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yesterday I was looking for a thread, today I'm looking for a piece of string., 15 Nov 2013
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Kiss Me Deadly [DVD] (DVD)
Mike Hammer is driving down a dark highway when a half naked blonde forces him to stop, this event sends Hammer spiralling on a journey that may have a cataclysmic consequence for all involved.

Kiss Me Deadly is a harsh movie, it contains an array of characters that are dislikable in the extreme, nobody can be trusted, and everyone on the surface appears to be selfish in their respective motivations. Taking in torture, murder, violence on tap, and a wonderful mystery plot, it's not hard to see why the film has gained a massive reputation as the years have rolled by, where although it's brutish in substance, the film is a damn riveting piece of work.

Ralp Meeker is excellent as Hammer, a character who refuses to lay down, he gets knocked down constantly, but he gets back up tougher than before, he becomes the kind of hard boiled guy who hits first and then asks questions later. The direction from Robert Aldrich is perfect, off- kilter camera work drags the viewer into this skew-whiff world that Hammer has entered, and we often only see shots of the bad guys torsos so as to make them faceless thugs. It's down right aggressive film making that hits the requisite thriller mark.

Kiss Me Deadly has influenced many others since its release, be it Repo Man or Pulp Fiction, its impact is still being felt today. Containing a much talked about ending (both the restored and alternate endings work on differing levels to many), it's a film that leaves things up for discussion and debate, but what we do know for sure is that it's explosive and crowns what is now firmly established as a crime classic from the film noir splinter of film making styles. 8.5/10
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Criterion Collection: Kiss Me Deadly [Blu-ray] [1955] [US Import]
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