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KISS ME DEADLY

Director: ROBERT ALDRICH

U.S.A. • 1955 • BLACK AND WHITE • 106 MIN • NEW 35MM PRINT


RE-RELEASED IN A NEWLY RESTORED VERSION THAT REINSTATES ITS UNFORGETTABLE SHOCK ENDING, DIRECTOR ROBERT ALDRICH’S BLISTERINGLY NIHILISTIC 1955 THRILLER BROUGHT THE HOLLYWOOD FILM NOIR CYCLE TO ITS ULTIMATE CONCLUSION AND STILL PACKS A CONSIDERABLE PUNCH OVER 50 YEARS AFTER ITS ORIGINAL RELEASE.
Ralph Meeker plays Mickey Spillane’s legendary private eye Mike Hammer, who finds himself out of his depth in an apocalyptic scenario that draws directly on Cold War and nuclear fears. Meeker embodies the legendary Hammer with brute-force savagery. Sneering, scowling, and dishing out ruthless justice almost as often as he takes a cruel beating, Meeker’s Hammer is a heartless, narcissistic, amoral beast with nothing but contempt for society, a world view that Aldrich also assumes in every one of his bluntly beautiful compositions and stinging close-ups. A ‘bedroom dick’ who willingly admits to his own sordidness (‘All right, you’ve got me convinced. I’m a real stinker,’ he tells some pesky cops), Hammer embroils himself in radioactive mystery after he almost runs down a hitchhiking psychiatric ward escapee (Cloris Leachman), gives her a lift, and then, after the woman is killed by her pursuers, is nearly exterminated for his trouble. The gumshoe’s subsequent investigation into the woman’s death doubles as a lacerating indictment of modern society’s dissolution into physical/moral/spiritual degeneracy—a reversion that ultimately leads to nuclear apocalypse and man’s return to the primordial sea—with the director’s knuckle-sandwich cynicism pummelling the genre’s romantic fatalism into a bloody pulp. ‘Remember me’? Aldrich’s sadistic, fatalistic masterpiece is impossible to forget.—Nick Schager.

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