Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kiss Me Deadly

Film Noir is a term coined by the French to describe a certain set of American movies following the close of World War II. These films reflected the feelings of a people thrust into the Nuclear Age and the Cold War Era, and they were films that contained conflicted and imperfect leads, femme fatales, violence, and bleak outlooks and endings. They were cold films and Kiss Me Deadly, one of the later entries in the genre, is downright frigid. From a book by Mickey Spillane, the film stars Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer, a sleazy private high who handles divorce cases and manipulates his clients. As the film begins, he is driving along the highway when he almost hits a woman in the middle of the road. He offers her a ride and after some conversation, a stop at a gas station, and a roadblock looking for a woman escaped from an institution (guess who it is?), they are stopped and abducted. After being tortured and the girl having been killed, both Hammer and the girl's corpse are placed back in his car and hurled over a cliff, which he unlikely survives. When he comes to, he launches an investigation into what happened and all the while being warned by ominous foes to back off, it leads him to a mysterious box (referred to as a whatsit) which has nuclear implications and may have inspired Tarantino's similar prop in Pulp Fiction. In many ways. Kiss Me Deadly is a standard detective noir, but in other ways it isn't, such as its previously mentioned nuclear undertones. I was surprised how violent and how harsh the dialogue is (Hammer talks to women as if they were dogs), especially for the time it was released. The direction by Robert Aldrich is great and I loved how the camera moved, even if it was ever so slightly. The film moves fast, and the ending is spectacular. Though the film is filled with excess plot which may be unnecessary, this is a dark film worth seeking out.