A brilliant film noir classic based on Mickey Spillane's bestseller, Kiss Me Deadly is masterfully directed by Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen) and hailed as one of his best (Leonard Maltin). This DVD edition of Kiss Me ... more »Deadly features the fully restored original endingwhich contains over one minute of crucial footage that clarifies decades of false interpretations. In order to illustrate the vastly different impressions left by each version, the altered/shortened ending has been included as well. When callous thugs beat Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) senseless and viciously murder the gorgeous blonde he's been trying to help, the hard-boiled detective retaliates theonly way he can: by hitting first and asking questions later. Cutting a brutal swath through the city's sleazy underside, Hammer uncovers a mysterious black container whose deadly contents not only solve the murder...but trigger an apocalyptic climax as well!« less
One of the great P.I. noir films, with the restored ending!
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 03/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Aldrich's 1955 detective thriller, "Kiss Me Deadly," came at the end of the American classic film noir cycle, and shows the genre at its most violent, surreal, cruel, cynical, and visually bizarre. It's the last great explosive moment of the classic era of film noir -- and I do mean explosive. This is one detective film, like "Chinatown," which you won't soon forget.Aldrich and screenwriter A. I. Bezzirides took on Mickey Spillane's popular P.I. Mike Hammer, but aside from keeping the basic plot outline of the original novel, they completely changed the nature of the character in a very reactionary move. Spillane's Mike Hammer is a New York detective-avenger, a self-righteous vigilante who deals out justice when the paralyzed forces of the law can do nothing: he's a vicious knight on a mean-spirited quest to right wrongs through brute force. (The title of the first Hammer novel, "I, the Jury" pretty much sums up his attitude.) The movie relocates Hammer to Los Angeles and turns him into a shallow con-artist who only cares about his car and his looks. He's a lousy detective too, relying on knocking people around for information, often innocent inoffensive folks, and never really paying attention to the important details of the case. His detective work is entirely matrimonial, where he and his `assistant' Velda put the squeeze on couples to blackmail them. Hammer's motto is simple: "What's in it for me?" Ralph Meeker is perfect in the role, looking as if someone carved him out of slab of meat.No doubt, in this story Hammer is in way over his head...if only he knew it. He picks up a nearly naked girl (Cloris Leachman in an early role) who throws herself in front of his sports car. Later, they're run off the road, and faceless gangsters torture her to dearth and leave Hammer for dead. Hammer sets out to find out what's up; not because he cares what happened to the girl, but because he sniffs out big money and he'd like to get the guys who wrecked his sports car! Hammer finds himself in a violent quest to locate an object that everyone desires: a package called `The Great Whatsit.' The Great Whatsit isn't a meaningless red herring or Hitchcock McGuffin, however. Its contents are the great surprise of the plot, and the perfect exclamation point on a movie taking place in a chaotic world that seems to be falling apart. I won't tell what the Great Whatsit is (and shame on the reviewers here who have!), but...oh wow!And this brings us to the issue of the ending, and the only extra on this disc. (Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil the ending.) For years, "Kiss Me Deadly" had a mysteriously abrupt finale that many people praised for its surreal, weird quality. This was how I first saw it. However, in 1997 the original ending was discovered in Aldrich's personal print of the film by editor Glenn Erickson and film noir scholar Alain Silver. Apparently, an accident involving a careless projectionist snipped off part of the ending, so what we had enjoyed and critiqued for years was actually a mistake! The new ending shown on this disc fortunately doesn't change the tone of the film: it's still pretty astonishing, filled with a brilliant use of light and sound effects. However, there's still something about that abrupt ending that gets to people. The DVD contains the option to watch this original abrupt ending so you can make up your mind which one `feels' more right to you: what the director intended, or the mistake that many embraced as a stroke of brilliance.No matter which ending you like, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a fabulous piece of brutal crime cinema. The photography is amazing, filled with weird and surreal images and crazy camera angles. The performances are all dead-on: Meeker's ugly Mike Hammer; Albert Dekker as the sinister and poetry spouting Dr. Soberin; Wesley Addy as Hammer's police acquaintance Pat, the sole voice of reason in the mess; Paul Stewart as a smarmy L.A. gangster; the late Jack Elam as freaky thug; and Gaby Rodgers in the film's strangest performance as the distant, weird, but ultimately very dangerous (to every living thing on the planet!) Lily Carver.If you love detective films and film noir, "Kiss Me Deadly" is a great must-see classic. For a 1950s film, it is surprisingly violent and far ahead of its time. And either end will leave you shivering in shock. If only they had the guts to end films this way today!"
VA VA VOOM - PAOW !
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 11/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Aldrich's KISS ME DEADLY is one of these movies I watch every two or three years with the same pleasure. When I discovered it for the first time long ago, Film Noir meant Humphrey Bogart, Howard Hawks, James Cagney or John Huston to me. So imagine the shock KISS ME DEADLY gave me. Everything was so innovative in this movie from the initial credits rolling backwards over Cloris Leachman running half-naked on the road and gasping in Mike Hammer's car with a quite erotic intensity. From the sadistic torture scene of Christina Bailey to the character of Maxine -Velda- Cooper who helps Mike Hammer to nail adultery husbands by seducing them. From the secondary characters so well written that it seems that they all have a tremendously important role in the story.At last, the performance of Ralph -Mike Hammer- Meeker is so perfect that it's hard to imagine another actor in the role. I personally can't. And Nick Dennis, Mike Hammer's friend, whose onomatopeia are now part of Movie History. And, and...OK ! check for yourselves if you still don't know this movie. Superb copy with various subtitles, the alternate ending and the original trailer.A DVD zone your library."
It's 'The Bomb'
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 07/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This late entry into the film noir genre has some harsh and memorable scenes and an ending unlike any other film noir. Of course, most of those weren't made during the A-Bomb scares of the mid 1950s, as this was.
The movie features a tough, no-nonsense Mike Hammer-like private eye, played well by Ralph Meeker, whose narration is a little dated but fun to hear. This is one of those noirs in which everyone is a tough-talking, tough-acting mug and one never knows who to trust. Except for Cloris Leachman, who is only in the first quick (but haunting) opening scene, the females in here are unfamiliar actresses but people with interesting faces and personalities.
That opening with Leachman is a real attention-grabber and is one of the best starts I've ever seen in a crime movie. It's very creepy, as is the unique ending. I also appreciated the cinematography in here a lot more once the DVD was issued. "
A classic...but oh, so grim.
wdanthemanw | 04/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Kiss Me Deadly is stylish and moves along nicely but whichever ending you choose, its unrelenting in its grimness. I disagree that Meeker portrays Mike Hammer as a bad guy. He gives everybody what they've got coming; its just that he enjoys it.Don't want to give away the ending but let's just say it has more in common with science fiction than film noir. Those expecting a happy ending should get a different DVD."
"Mmmm...look at all the goodies!"
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 06/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Absolute film noir heaven (or hell, depending on how you look at it.) A film so visually and stylistically arresting that the somewhat intricate and confusing plot becomes a moot point, one can't help but watch this 1955 (!) Robert Aldrich masterwork with a sense of awe. We may be in disagreement on the assessment of Jerry Lewis' "genius", but as for the importance of this film's influence on susbsequent cinema, I have to agree with the French on this one! Ralph Meeker's sneeringly existential and Brandoesque Mike Hammer persona in this film has been imitated many times but never matched.One interesting note: 1984's "punk-noir" classic "Repo Man" borrowed quite heavily from this film...make it a double bill some slow night and you'll be amazed and bemused!"