Dir: Robert Aldrich
from the novel by Mickey Spillane
You expect corpses in a film noir, but Kiss Me Deadly has more than the usual quota. Regarded as a classic of the noir genre, it has the acute angles and brooding black and white that noir fans crave. The dialogue is too verbose for the quick-fire repartee of the greatest Bogart noirs but the convoluted plot gives the film an enjoyable sense of Fifties paranoia. Meeker as Mike Hammer is too pretty and un-care-worn for a true noir ‘tec, but like the best of them he’s not afraid to break the law to solve the case. Indeed his embracing of the methods of the criminals makes him one of the most ambivalent of heroes. There are dames and baddies galore, too many for a viewer – or certainly this viewer – to be able to remember all the names, which is where the movie becomes too obviously formulaic – Hammer moving from one witness or baddie to another, each time getting a new name to go and visit to question or beat. The ending is sci-fi rather than noir which makes for a strange denouement and puts question marks over the film’s status as a classic.