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265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955) 
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Post 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Generally considered to be one of the ten greatest film noirs, Robert Aldrich's film from 55 years ago still is as vibrant and alive today. This is a great movie!

As I perused the list of the top 1000 I was sure I'd seen it before, but my database told me otherwise and my brain is the one most likely to be at fault. So Netflix came to my rescue and we put the record straight.

Image

Mike Hammer is out in the night driving his awesome sports car when he is stopped by a woman in the middle of the road. She has a strange story and is wearing almost nothing. The radio plays that she has escaped from the local asylum. Minutes later she is horrifically slain and we join our hero as he tries to find out what happened.

I was genuinely surprised at the tone and brutality of this film. It's harsh and it seems to relish it. It's not just the amount of violence but it's the sadistic tone of the film that is very unusual. Robert Aldrich pulled out all the stops here.

There are clear influences to Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg that I won't discuss in detail, but you'll spot very quickly.

If I was going to suggest a film that summed up the style of Film Noir this would be very high up my list. I've talked tone, there's your usual band of low lives and molls, great shadowy camera work and composition, a treasure chest of quotable quotes, cool cars and the style of the 1950's itself. Now throw in an awesome soundtrack and you have the complete set.

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I do wish Criterion versus MGM had the rights to this movie as it's crying out for a remaster and some serious extras. the disc from MGM is a disgrace and they should be ashamed.

A genuine pleasure 9/10
Rob


Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:30 am
Post Re: 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Robert Holloway wrote:
I do wish Criterion versus MGM had the rights to this movie as it's crying out for a remaster and some serious extras. the disc from MGM is a disgrace and they should be ashamed.



Your wish will be granted on June 21st: http://www.criterion.com/films/27620-kiss-me-deadly

I've been wanting to see this for a while and have been contemplating a blind buy of the Criterion release. Your write-up has just about convinced me.

I've heard the ending is one of the most audacious in the history of film. What do you say about that?


Thu Jun 02, 2011 1:09 am
Post Re: 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
PeachyPete wrote:
Robert Holloway wrote:
I do wish Criterion versus MGM had the rights to this movie as it's crying out for a remaster and some serious extras. the disc from MGM is a disgrace and they should be ashamed.



Your wish will be granted on June 21st: http://www.criterion.com/films/27620-kiss-me-deadly

I've been wanting to see this for a while and have been contemplating a blind buy of the Criterion release. Your write-up has just about convinced me.

I've heard the ending is one of the most audacious in the history of film. What do you say about that?


I'd say that no B-movie's ending can ever be considered truly audacious for the simple reason that nothing is really at stake. The film is never expected to do much business, and without at least a few ballsy moves it would be entirely ignored. Having said that, things do get pretty weird toward the end.


Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:14 am
Post Re: 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
PeachyPete wrote:
Robert Holloway wrote:
I do wish Criterion versus MGM had the rights to this movie as it's crying out for a remaster and some serious extras. the disc from MGM is a disgrace and they should be ashamed.



Your wish will be granted on June 21st: http://www.criterion.com/films/27620-kiss-me-deadly

I've been wanting to see this for a while and have been contemplating a blind buy of the Criterion release. Your write-up has just about convinced me.

I've heard the ending is one of the most audacious in the history of film. What do you say about that?


Peachy Pete,

Grrr, wish I'd known about the Criterion in just 3 weeks. My stupidity as I get their emails and it's all over their homepage. I am sooo dumb. I'll certainly buy the Blu when it goes on sale

Regarding the ending...

There are actually two endings on the crappy MGM DVD. It's very hard to discuss this without major spoilers but lets just say that the ending is awesome and the obvious inspiration for many films that follow.

I did not want to mention this in my original post as saying anything makes people start guessing.

That said, the whole film film is a complete joy and I'm desperate to to rewatch and listen to the commentary. There's many details in this movie to like.

But wait till the 21st and rent/buy the Criterion.

Rob


Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:15 am
Post Re: 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
MGamesCook wrote:

I'd say that no B-movie's ending can ever be considered truly audacious for the simple reason that nothing is really at stake. The film is never expected to do much business, and without at least a few ballsy moves it would be entirely ignored. Having said that, things do get pretty weird toward the end.



MGames...
Things get pretty weird from the start :-)
Rob


Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:16 am
Post Re: 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - May 11': Certainly there is no need to compare to the non-anamorphic, boosted SD transfer that has more artefacts and a cropped frame. The Criterion 1080P image shows some occasionally impressive detail, sublime contrast and thick grain that mark it as a very film-like presentation. It is certainly not glossy and the image, while never looking pristine, brings back a wonderfully textured look to Kiss Me Deadly. Aside from a few scratches under the surface there is no damage to speak of and aside from some minor fluctuation the gritty presentation is consistent and should be very pleasing to Noir fans.

Criterion are faithful to the flat mono audio with a linear PCM track at 1152 kbps. Any scattered audio is more to be blamed on the production or source than the transfer. It is imperfect but never hinders the presentation with drop-outs or notable hiss. There are optional subtitles and the Blu-ray disc is, as always from Criterion, coded for region 'A'.

Criterion supply a great audio commentary by two of the best - film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini recorded in Los Angeles in March 2011. They cover information about all the film's participants as well as the characters. It is, as expected, very thorough and extremely entertaining for devotees of Kiss Me Deadly. There is a 6.5 minute new video tribute from director Alex Cox who discusses the backwards title and his deeply thought perceptions on the film and its meanings. There are about 10-minutes of excerpts from The Long Haul of A. I. Bezzerides, a 2007 documentary on the Kiss Me Deadly screenwriter where Spillane, Bezzerides and writers Barry Gifford and George Pelecanos. This helps perpetuate the dark aura of the film's ideals. In 1998 Mickey Spillane agreed to participate in a documentary about his life and career, directed by mystery writer and filmmaker Max Allan Collins (atta boy Max! - author of the book The Road to Perdition). Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane's debuted at a noir festival in Courmayeur, Italy. This new condensed cut was prepared by Collins for this release and runs for about 40-minutes documenting the life and work of the author. Also included is a 7-minute video piece, narrated by writer-actor Don Bajema, where writer and Los Angeles film buff Jim Dawson discusses some of the locations in Kiss Me Deadly. For almost 3 decades more than a minute of footage was missing from the end of the film. How this happened remains a mystery but it resulted in a very different fate for the characters. Neither director Robert Aldrich nor anyone associated with the film's production or distribution intended for these crucial shots to be excised, and they were finally restored in 1997. It is presented under the title "Controversial altered ending" and runs only, truncated at only 22 seconds. There is a theatrical trailer and a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic J. Hoberman and a 1955 reprint by director Robert Aldrich.

This is like giving a tall, cool lemonade to a man dying of thirst. Noir fans have always placed this enigmatic gem very high in their top listings of the dark cinema stalwarts - for years and years. It's a film that carries its own unapologetic style and fans love to discuss its merits and messages. With the fabulous commentary and intriguing extras this is one for remembering at the end of the year Poll for best Blu-ray. The appeal i... undeniable. Absolutely recommended!


OMG
Rob


Thu Jun 02, 2011 2:44 am
Post Re: 265 - Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
This movie also features a strong and somewhat atypical song by the great Nat King Cole in the beginning as the credits role. I think the title is I'd Rather Have the Blues...It's one of my favorite songs by him.


Wed Jul 27, 2011 1:49 am
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