This week’s film is really outstanding.
Kiss Me Deadly is first and foremost incredibly entertaining if you like the nasty. It’s mean, brutal, and hugely fun.
Now that I have your attention — Kiss Me Deadly is a late film noir, made in 1955 and loosely based on a Mike Hammer novel by Mickey Spillane. Kiss Me Deadly brilliantly bridges the divide between the 1940’s Raymond Chandler-style noir and the paranoia of the Cold War era of the 1950’s — as you watch it you realize you’re seeing a vivid portrayal of the end of one era and the start of another, much scarier era.
Kiss Me Deadly‘s protagonist, using the term loosely, is Mike Hammer, but a Mike Hammer who is amoral and much meaner than the one you’ve seen on TV. This Mike Hammer, played by the improbably named tough-guy actor Ralph Meeker, pimps out his faithful sidekick Velma and makes a living by blackmailing adulterers. He’s a sleazebag and a thug with almost no redeeming qualities except a certain pigheadedness — the Terminator, before his time — that comes in handy when he finds himself dealing with people far worse than himself.
The film’s tagline was “I don’t care what you do to me, Mike – just do it fast!”
According to IMDB, the Kefauver Commission, a federal unit dedicated to investigating corrupting influences in the 1950s, singled out this film as 1955’s number one menace to American youth.
And, the film was written by a blacklisted leftist screenwriter named Al Bezzerides, who later said, “Spillane didn’t like what I did with his book. I ran into him at a restaurant and, boy, he didn’t like me.” (I bet not.)