A classic pulp noir of the fifties and a savage critique of Cold War paranoia, Kiss Me Deadly is adapted from the novel by Mickey Spillane. Detective Mike Hammer picks up a female hitchhiker, only to be run off the road by a pursuing car; when Hammer comes to, the girl is dead, and his investigation leads him to a mysterious briefcase and a deadly web of conspiracy.
Chosen for My Noir by
Steve Balshaw, Film Programmer at Grimmfest:
“Boiling down the sociopathic strut and psychotic post-war paranoia of Mickey Spillane’s pulp potboiler into a surreal nightmare of satiric sadism, and atomic apocalypse, Big Bad Bob Aldrich and screenwriter Buzz Bezzerides simultaneously undermine and revel in the meathead machismo of walking hard-on Mike Hammer as he brutalises and bludgeons his way around LA in search of the mysterious “Great Whatsit”; a McGuffin that will turn out to be the monster in the box. If film noir was a means of exploring post-war paranoia and emotional trauma, and the pulps were the Id of the age writ large and in primary colours, then Kiss Me Deadly marks some kind of ultimate high water mark of both. Playing by all the rules, even as it gleefully breaks them one by one, it was a key inspiration for the French New Wave, and more recently for David Lynch’s Lost Highway, and has lost none of its power to shock, surprise, and challenge. Oh yeah, and it’s funny as all hell, too.”