Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Film Noir Week: Kiss Me Deadly

 Howdy folks and welcome back to Day 3 of Film Noir Week and we have us a gritty dark detective novel turned film by director Robert Aldrich (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Flight of the Phoenix, The Dirty Dozen and The Longest Yard).  So keep your head down, lay low or face the music. This is Kiss Me Deadly.

Stop farting or I am pulling over and letting you out.

 Kiss Me, Spoiler. I want you to kiss me. Kiss me. The liar’s kiss that says I love you, and means something else.

The 1955 film noir drama produced and directed starring Ralph Meeker. The screenplay was written by A.I. Bezzerides (On Dangerous Grounds, Thieves’ Highway, The Big Valley, The Greatest Mother of Them All and The Big Valley) based on the Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer mystery novel Kiss Me, Deadly.  Kiss Me Deadly is often considered a classic of the noir genre. Ralph Meeker (Wanted: Dead or Alive, Dillinger, Not for Hire, Something Wild, Wall of Noise and The Dirty Dozen)plays Mike Hammer, a tough Los Angeles private eye who is almost as brutal and corrupt as the crooks he chases. Mike, and his assistant/secretary/lover, Velda (Maxine Cooper of Zero Hour!, Perry Mason, Philip Marlowe, Stagecoach West and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) usually work on "penny-ante divorce cases", lock into a realm a juicy murder and the clock is ticking. 

Girl in a trench coat?  Is it my birthday?

One evening on a lonely country road, Hammer gives a ride to Christina (Cloris Leachman of the Man on the Moon, Gunsmoke, Target: The Corruptors, Wagon Train, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Last Picture Show, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, Dillinger, Young Frankenstein, Crazy Mama and Lake Placid 2), an attractive hitchhiker wearing nothing but a trench coat. She has escaped from a nearby mental institution. Thugs waylay them and Hammer awakens in some unknown location where he hears Christina screaming and being tortured to death. The thugs then push Hammer's car off a cliff with Christina's body and an unconscious Hammer inside. Hammer next awakens in a hospital with Velda by his bedside. He decides to pursue the case, both for vengeance and because, "She (Being Christina previously mentioned) must be connected with something big" behind it all. 

I washed your damn window now gimme some change!

The twisting plot takes Hammer to the apartment of Lily Carver (Gaby Rodgers of Suspense, Tales of Tomorrow, The Big Break and The United States Steel Hour), a sexy, waifish blond who is posing as Christina's ex-room mate. Lily tells Hammer she has gone into hiding and asks Hammer to protect her. It turns out that she is after a mysterious box that, she believes, has contents worth a fortune. 

A quick few notions and observations about the film now and yes you have come to expect that.   Operating a standard 35 mm Spherical, some wonderful night time shots that does NOT incorporate day for night shots and thank God for that.  The lighting gives off tons of shadows for the unknown to lurk and the composure by Frank De Vol (Attack, The Dirty Dozen, Family Affair, My Three Sons and The Brady Brunch) gives such presence to the film’s overall feel.