Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: An intriguing, wonderfully subversive blend of art and commerce, Kiss Me Deadly is an influential noir classic.

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Movie Info

This film noir stars Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane's anti-social private eye Mike Hammer. After he and a hitchhiker are kidnapped by thugs, the semiconscious Hammer helplessly watches as the girl is tortured to death. Seeking vengeance, Hammer searches for the secret behind the girl's murder.
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
MGM

Cast

Ralph Meeker
as Mike Hammer
Paul Stewart
as Eyello
Albert Dekker
as Soberin
Cloris Leachman
as Christina Bailey/Berga Torn
Marian Carr
as Friday
Jack Lambert
as Sugar Smallhouse
Jack Elam
as Charlie Max
Percy Helton
as Morgue Doctor
Fortunio Bonanova
as Carmen Trivago
Leigh Snowden
as Girl at Pool
Madi Comfort
as Singer
James Seay
as FBI Man
Mara McAfee
as Nurse
Jesslyn Fax
as Mrs. Super
Strother Martin
as Harvey Wallace, Truck Driver
Leonard Mudie
as Athletic Club Clerk
Art Loggins
as Bartender
Bob Sherman
as Gas Station Man
Sam Balter
as Radio announcer
Keith McConnell
as Athletic Club Clerk
Paul Richards
as Attacker
Joe Hernandez
as Radio announcer
Eddie Beal
as Sideman
Kitty White
as Vocalist in Club (uncredited)
Robert Sherman
as Gas Station Man
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Critic Reviews for Kiss Me Deadly

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (6)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 15, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

This independently produced low-budget film was a shining example for the New Wave directors -- Truffaut, Godard, et al -- who found it proof positive that commercial films could accommodate the quirkiest and most personal of visions.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The trail leads to a series of amorous dames, murder-minded plug-uglies and dangerous adventures that offer excitement but have little clarity to let the viewer know what's going on.

Full Review… | October 29, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

A crucial influence on what would become the French new wave, an irresistibly seedy trip through the Los Angeles underworld, and a valuable artifact of Cold War anxiety.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's not the greatest thriller ever, but Kiss Me Deadly is classic film noir.

April 15, 2005
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

It's not a horror movie by any means, but like a good horror movie it has images and tiny loose ends that make sense on a subconscious level.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Kiss Me Deadly

Tough-as-nails private detective Mike Hammer is thrown into the middle of a murder mystery when a desperate hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman in her first film role) flags him down on the highway. Thereafter he's beaten, nearly killed, but thereby persuaded to reluctantly take the case - which involves reading poetry - to finally solve. What is this Great Whatsis everyone seems ready to kill for? Considered classic film noir, it makes several leaps of illogical thinking and yet nonetheless drags one along to its sensational last quarter. Tasty.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

A meandering, nihilistic Noir that birthed the "golden briefcase" motif that still perplexes film students in universities across the country. Throwing us right in the action, director Robert Aldrich begins the film on the opening road with a marvelous title sequence. Our protagonist detective Mike Hammer, is barreling down the freeway, nearly careening off the road at every turn. This opening excellently sums up Hammer's ethos. He is a man that lacks caution, wastes no time in getting what he wants, and pays no mind to the lives he endangers in the process. Ralph Meeker is pretty good as the rabid anti-communist and barbaric detective. Unlike other noir detectives, such as Borgart's Phillip Marlowe, Meeker's Hammer isn't exactly charming. Yet, what he lacks in the charisma department he makes up for in sadism. Everything else you need to know about his character is summed up when a young woman asks him if he has ever read poetry. The look is hard to describe, but trust me when I say you don't want to be at the receiving end of it. However, this brute, our "hero", isn't so bad when compared to the rest of the lot in the film. Aldrich's world is very bleak. Everyone is out to get one-another, and even doctors accept kickbacks. Usually dabbling in petty divorce cases, Hammer stumbles into the apocalyptic underworld when the death of a young woman leads him to believe that there might be more dollars signs in his future. He ends up tracking down a mysterious box, much like the one in the Pandora myth, in which it's very opening portends some disastrous consequences. Without getting into specifics, one can glean from the film that Aldrich & screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides didn't think the realities of the nuclear age had positive consequences in American culture. While the film isn't perfect and has a tendency to wander, the ending is one of the ballsiest that I have encountered in a long time. This alone is worth moving it to the top of your queue. However, if you are one of those people who would still like to believe that the world is made out of hugs and rainbows, then you might want to leave this on the shelf for the time being.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

The movie gets it's reputation for the second half for sure, and for the ending. The first half is very average by-the-number noir routine, then it starts to scalate and get better. Meeker is kind of dull in the lead role, but the rest of the cast is quite strong.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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