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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

To all  you supposed noir fans who were left indifferent to Kiss Me Deadly - I say, what is the matter with you people?  What does it take to impress you?  An incredibly unusual, riveting movie and all you folks can say is "meh" ??

Look, I could understood someone not liking the film; after all, it's got a lot of nastiness, the main character is not everyone's idea of a sympathethic protagonist, the plot is almost as convoluted as The Big Sleep,  and that ending, unforgettable though it is , is also , let's face it, a downer.   I get all that, I get someone not finding watching Kiss Me Deadly a pleasant experience.   But what I don't get is someone saying it's "Ok".  It's way more than "Ok".    Dislike it if you want, but don't damn it with faint praise--it deserves so much more than that.

This is a film that jumps off the screen and grabs you, right from the start.  Look at the credits---they're  backwards !  They run on the screen from the bottom up. What a great, imaginative way to show us, right from the get-go, that this movie is about a world where things can go very, very wrong.  And the way it begins:  we have a young woman desperately running barefoot - barefoot-  along a deserted highway in the middle of the night.  She stops an approaching car by standing right in the middle of the road, her arms up.  What's going on, what's going to happen next?

Chloris Leachmans' character only has the one scene (unless you count that terrible torture scene,  which is mercifully short), but she packs a lot into those few minutes.  Who is she, where did she come from, why is she terrified?  The fact that these questions are at best, only partially answered -- well, not really answered at all -- doesn't matter.  She's ignited our curiosity, and she haunts the rest of the film.  

Something else really different about Kiss Me Deadly:  there's classical music all over the place.  We hear it a whole lot, not just when Mike Hammer turns on the radio in Christine's apartment, but later, when  Velda is practicing ballet  (?? how many secretaries do that?  there's more to this woman than luring men to help her boss's job), and of course, the opera-singer's scene.  Poor guy, Mike shouldn't have smashed his prized record like that.  But what an entertaining scene !

Also:  as Eddie pointed out in the intro, Mike Hammer may be nasty to a lot of people, but he's sincerely kind and respectful to his friends.  He's heartbroken when poor Nick gets killed;  he helps lighten the moving man's load  (and not just to get information);  he's bothered by the fact that Christine's "roommate" let her bird die;  he puts himself at risk to rescue Velda from the beach house  (little did he know how much risk).   And -let's remember this film was made in 1955-  he hangs out with Black people, and respects them.  I love the nightclub scene, where the Black lady is singing, with that great jazz/blues band backing her up.    He's not really so bad;  true, he's pretty violent with some people, but they're never the nice  people in the story.  The coroner took his money and still refused to help !  Also,  it doesn't hurt that much to get your hand jammed in a drawer.  It's not fun, but I wouldn't say it was sadistic of Mike to do that, he just wanted results, like so many noir protagonists.  And I'm pretty sure all the screaming was turned up and exaggerated  (as it was a few times in the film.)

The plot?  Sure, I've seen it four times now and I still don't know exactly what's going on and who everybody is.  I don't care.  The movie's so full of style and grit and surprises and oddball characters, I'm thoroughly entertained for all 106 minutes of it.  If we were to only wholeheartedly like the noirs where the plot makes sense, there'd be precious few noirs that we'd like.  Plot is not why I love film noir.

There's lots more to say about Kiss Me Deadly, I'll just wrap up by saying,  even if, inexplicably,  you're not sold on it for most of its running, time, shirley that ending grabs your attention.  The first time I saw this film,  I couldn't believe it.  I think I sat there, mouth agape in astonishment, for a full minute after "the end" appears on the screen. Some people say they like noir because it's so dark - well, it don't get much darker than this.   Apocalyptic.

 

I fully agree with everything you've written here, Miss Wonderly.  In fact, even though I own the Criterion of this film, I watched last night's presentation and the encore showing this morning! I absolutely love this film.

I'm glad you pointed out the credits sequence.  It is so unusual and they're interesting (as far as credits go anyway).  I also loved how they kept Cloris' hyperventilating over the soundtrack.  I loved the juxtaposition of the Nat King Cole music playing in Mike Hammer's car with the dark, intensity of the scene.  

This was Cloris Leachman's film debut and what an entrance! From the moment I saw her, I thought: "Who is this woman?" "Why is she running down the highway at night?" "What happened to her clothes and shoes?" "Why was she in an insane asylum?" "Where is she going?" There were so many questions that I had about this woman--and really none of the questions are answered.  All we know is that she's being followed by someone and she fears for her life.  The torture scene is pretty horrible and I'm glad that it was short.

I also loved the nightclub scene.  I reminded me a lot of the nightclub scene in DOA which I also love. The jazz/blues music always works so well in film noir.  It has that "raw-ness" that works with a more gritty setting.  

I don't have an issue with Mike's brutality.  The man is investigating Cloris Leachman's murder.  Why was she murdered? Why did she say "Remember me" to him? What did that mean? Then, obviously he's getting close to something, he keeps nearly being attacked or his friends are killed.  He's only brutal when he has to be like with the stupid coroner.  Or with the gym guy, he was being obtuse for no reason.  Of course, he was only interested when Mike found something unusual in the locker. 

When the landlord revealed that Lily had allowed Cloris' bird to die, I was also bothered by that, so I was happy to see that Mike was concerned about animals as well.  Overall, while Mike could be somewhat of a jerk, I still felt like he was likeable.  He wasn't beating people up for no reason.  He had a motive each step of the way.  

My favorite part for whatever reason is when he tries to visit Carl and his henchmen at the Beverly Hills mansion.  Friday, Carl's sister (I think), just kisses Mike instantly upon meeting him.  I don't know what her deal was, but I loved how brazen she was in trying to pick up the smokin' hot Mike Hammer. I also loved when Mike basically told her to quit being such a floozy.

The ending is insane.  Now that I've seen the film multiple times, it doesn't quite have the same impact, but I love it nonetheless.  Though I would be concerned about the after effects that so much radiation exposure would have on Mike and Velda. 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Sorry MissW, but it's not any of the violence in this film and of which really isn't all that graphic and even given that it was filmed in the still movie coded year of 1955, nor is it its convoluted plot involving all those many characters thrown at us, but the reason I'll never place it among the better noirs films ever made (and a little side note here...I couldn't believe I saw 4 stars next to its title last night on my cable's guide page and discovering just now that the IMDb website gives it a "7.6" rating ) is simply because, and as I mentioned above, it seemed almost amateurishly made in many aspects, and with first among them being its stilted and clipped dialogue, which sure while this sort of thing being a mainstay of the noir genre, seemed excessively so in this film's case and enough so to as give me the impression that, and as I also said either,  its screenplay might have been written by a 15 year old attempting to channel Raymond Chandler.

I suppose I'll never be a Mickey Spillane fan, in other words. 

Secondly, I also found some of the acting in  it rather amatuerish and unbelieveable too, and especially so by actress Maxine Cooper who played Hammer's girl friday Velda. I also got the feeling that a few more of those acting in this film were either way over the top in their performances or were just phoning it in, and to be honest with ya, the latter being what I felt the usually reliable Albert Dekker did.

I also thought that while some of Aldrich's direction seemed somewhat innovative, much of the time the film's editing let it down.

And don't even mention that obviously over-dubbed and overdone scene of Percy Hilton sceaming in pain as Meeker closes that desk drawer on his hand. No, it wasn't "too graphic" for me more than it was just pain funny because of it being overdone and obviously NOT coming out of little Percy's own mouth. And thus, another little bit of amatuerism in my book.

(...however and like I also said earlier, I've STILL always been able to get some enjoyment out of it by thinking it as more a parody of its genre than by any other means, and so there's that...in other words, yeah, "meh")

Dargo, I put a "thanks" emoticon with your post because I always appreciate people detailing why they do or don't like a film.  I appreciate that you didn't just say  "oh, it's not my favourite noir" and leave it at that, you took the trouble to write very specific criticisms of the film, which , if I felt the way you do about some of those points, would indeed be good reasons to consider it not worth 4 stars  (personally, I'd give it at least 4, maybe even 5) as a rating of its worthiness.

So, there's no arguing with the points you raise. I do understand, for instance, why some might find  Maxine Cooper's performance as "Velda" wanting.  Now, full disclosure, I'm a bit odd about my assessment of acting:  I don't seem to notice, or at least be bothered, by less than perfect acting the way most people do.  I don't know why.  Often,  my husband and I will be watching some movie and he'll comment on how bad the acting is; and I'll say "Really, ?  I didn't even notice."  It might have something to do with my "suspension of disbelief" antenna, which is set to a much higher tolerance than most people's  (including my husbands's.)   Whatever....I enjoyed Maxine Cooper as Velda, I just went along with her performance.  I also liked the fact that, while, yes, she was in some ways a sexy young woman, she was also not traditionally "pretty", especially by 1950s standards.   I don't know, I just liked that about her.

As for the "screaming" during the scene in which Hammer slams the drawer on the coroner's hand, yes, I agree, it was completely over-the-top.  I did mention in my earlier post that it felt to me as though the screaming was dubbed in, or over-enhanced, or something.  It just doesn't hurt that much to have your hand jammed in a drawer  (now, the back of a door, the hinge part, that's a different matter...)  I did mention that I thought the "screaming -in-pain" thing was over-done throughout the film, but also, that it just didn't bother me.  Sometimes I actually like over-the-top effects. 

As for the dialogue, which you say struck  you as very amateur  ("as though written by a 15-year-old"), I dunno.  I like the dialogue - it's fun. I don't care if it's sophisticated or realistic or whatever -  it entertains me, which is all I ask of this kind of film.

The whole movie,  as I said before, is so intense, so strange, with such an unusual beginning and ending, and so many off-beat characters, that, great acting or not,  well-written dialogue or not, it engages me from start to finish.  And nobody can claim it isn't entirely unique in the noir canon. 

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11 hours ago, lcsmith said:

If you use a streaming service such as Sling to get TCM you won't watch "Kiss Me Deadly", as it is no longer licensed.   Another nail in the coffin for TCM unfortunately, as films increasingly disappear from their streaming menu and their overall film library loses its depth.  

This happens with greater frequency to me.  I couldn't watch "Kiss Me Deadly" either.  I've only seen it a couple of times, but I liked watching it, and I agree with misswonderly's synopsis of the film.  It's frustrating not being able to watch a movie on TCM due to the dreaded "rights fees or issues" that pops up on my screen.  I went to bed before it came on Saturday, and on Sunday, I substituted with Italian soccer, because it makes me feel like a 'Renaissance Man'!  Then, I lifted weights...and thinking about why I was lifting weights at that time of day when I would normally be watching Noir Alley, it made me lift with anger! 😠💪🏻  But, I'll get over it.  Eventually.  Maybe. 🤔

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A tribute to everyone's favourite scene in KISS ME DEADLY

kissme5.jpg

"Oh, yowweeeEEEEE! That hurts! That REALLY hurts! That hurts so much I can feel it right down to my toes! The pain! THE PAIN!!! I CAN HARDLY STAND IT!!!"

"Hey, Mike, do it again, will ya?"

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4 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I like Albert Dekker, but I can't help but think of *how* he died when I see him on-screen.

One of the judges I used to work with had a son who died under the same circumstances...and he was only 14!  David Carradine also met with the same fate at the age of 72.

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3 hours ago, Vautrin said:

I always get a kick out of Kiss Me Deadly. It's pretty out there for a 1950s p.i. flick; part horror

movie, part detective movie, and part advertisement for the 1950s Playboy life style--girls,

cars, music, though Hammer is not as sophisticated as Hef would have wanted. And yeah, who

knew Elton John would show up on Noir Alley. All those rundown apartment buildings are so

sad and lonely and creepy too. On a minor point I'm glad the untalented opera singer wasn't killed,

as I could just imagine the two hoods coming into his room and starting to smash all his treasured

opera records, a la The Blackboard Jungle. Lots of fun and I suppose people can speculate endlessly

about what the box, or as Velda called it the what's it, was about. 

 

I thought of Elton John too, w hen I saw that guy!! All those run down buildings are gone now (at least on Bunker Hill) as they destroyed it to put up new buildings downtown.

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3 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

To all  you supposed noir fans who were left indifferent to Kiss Me Deadly - I say, what is the matter with you people?  What does it take to impress you?  An incredibly unusual, riveting movie and all you folks can say is "meh" ??

Look, I could understood someone not liking the film; after all, it's got a lot of nastiness, the main character is not everyone's idea of a sympathethic protagonist, the plot is almost as convoluted as The Big Sleep,  and that ending, unforgettable though it is , is also , let's face it, a downer.   I get all that, I get someone not finding watching Kiss Me Deadly a pleasant experience.   But what I don't get is someone saying it's "Ok".  It's way more than "Ok".    Dislike it if you want, but don't damn it with faint praise--it deserves so much more than that.

This is a film that jumps off the screen and grabs you, right from the start.  Look at the credits---they're  backwards !  They run on the screen from the bottom up. What a great, imaginative way to show us, right from the get-go, that this movie is about a world where things can go very, very wrong.  And the way it begins:  we have a young woman desperately running barefoot - barefoot-  along a deserted highway in the middle of the night.  She stops an approaching car by standing right in the middle of the road, her arms up.  What's going on, what's going to happen next?

Chloris Leachmans' character only has the one scene (unless you count that terrible torture scene,  which is mercifully short), but she packs a lot into those few minutes.  Who is she, where did she come from, why is she terrified?  The fact that these questions are at best, only partially answered -- well, not really answered at all -- doesn't matter.  She's ignited our curiosity, and she haunts the rest of the film.  

Something else really different about Kiss Me Deadly:  there's classical music all over the place.  We hear it a whole lot, not just when Mike Hammer turns on the radio in Christine's apartment, but later, when  Velda is practicing ballet  (?? how many secretaries do that?  there's more to this woman than luring men to help her boss's job), and of course, the opera-singer's scene.  Poor guy, Mike shouldn't have smashed his prized record like that.  But what an entertaining scene !

Also:  as Eddie pointed out in the intro, Mike Hammer may be nasty to a lot of people, but he's sincerely kind and respectful to his friends.  He's heartbroken when poor Nick gets killed;  he helps lighten the moving man's load  (and not just to get information);  he's bothered by the fact that Christine's "roommate" let her bird die;  he puts himself at risk to rescue Velda from the beach house  (little did he know how much risk).   And -let's remember this film was made in 1955-  he hangs out with Black people, and respects them.  I love the nightclub scene, where the Black lady is singing, with that great jazz/blues band backing her up.    He's not really so bad;  true, he's pretty violent with some people, but they're never the nice  people in the story.  The coroner took his money and still refused to help !  Also,  it doesn't hurt that much to get your hand jammed in a drawer.  It's not fun, but I wouldn't say it was sadistic of Mike to do that, he just wanted results, like so many noir protagonists.  And I'm pretty sure all the screaming was turned up and exaggerated  (as it was a few times in the film.)

The plot?  Sure, I've seen it four times now and I still don't know exactly what's going on and who everybody is.  I don't care.  The movie's so full of style and grit and surprises and oddball characters, I'm thoroughly entertained for all 106 minutes of it.  If we were to only wholeheartedly like the noirs where the plot makes sense, there'd be precious few noirs that we'd like.  Plot is not why I love film noir.

There's lots more to say about Kiss Me Deadly, I'll just wrap up by saying,  even if, inexplicably,  you're not sold on it for most of its running, time, shirley that ending grabs your attention.  The first time I saw this film,  I couldn't believe it.  I think I sat there, mouth agape in astonishment, for a full minute after "the end" appears on the screen. Some people say they like noir because it's so dark - well, it don't get much darker than this.   Apocalyptic.

 

Agree 100% with what you wrote, Miss W!

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3 hours ago, nakano said:

I watched The Girlhunters1963 directed by Roy Rowland with Mickey Spillane playing Mike Hammer,the writer playing his fictionnal character.Spillane was credited with some of the screenplay. A neo Noir a good effort featuring the sultry Shirley Eaton,one year before Goldfinger,in the movie she wears 5 different bikinis...my favorite Bond Girl with Luciana Paluzzi. 7/10, the bikinis are not rated.   I know it was not on Noir Alley but since Spillane was heavily featured  in the show

girlhunters.jpg

I hope it will be. I've never seen it.

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33 minutes ago, midwestan said:

One of the judges I used to work with had a son who died under the same circumstances...and he was only 14!  David Carradine also met with the same fate at the age of 72.

YES.

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I don't know why people are down on Maxine Cooper. I liked her character and her performance. I found Gaby Rogers a bit too affected, but I liked her too. Maybe it was due to her being not what she seemed. But she seemed too phony to begin with. The reveal wasnt too surprising to me.

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8 minutes ago, Hibi said:

I don't know why people are down on Maxine Cooper. 

In my case Hibi, it has to do with how I perceived her line-readings in particular seemed unnatural, fake and as if there was no real heart in them.

 

 

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52 minutes ago, midwestan said:

One of the judges I used to work with had a son who died under the same circumstances...and he was only 14!  David Carradine also met with the same fate at the age of 72.

When one considers all the different and strange other things that Dekker's body was found with and which could have only been applied to his body by another person, I've never been so sure if it could truly be said Carradine's death was of a similiar case and cause.

(...just saying, Your Honor)

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

I thought of Elton John too, w hen I saw that guy!! All those run down buildings are gone now (at least on Bunker Hill) as they destroyed it to put up new buildings downtown.

Especially at the first glimpse at the beginning of the intro. Get back, **** cat. I think the camera got a bit closer

and the resemblance was a little weaker, but still pretty close. I read somewhere those buildings were razed. They

were certainly spooky, especially at night. That's what gave it something of a horror movie vibe. And Gaby's bare

bones room wasn't exactly inviting to say the least.

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When Hammer slammed Percy Helton's hand into the desk I figured Well that hurt at first, but

how long can the pain last. Certainly not as bad as if Hammer had kept opening and closing the

drawer. Then again, it wasn't my hand in the drawer. While Albert Dekker was good, he certainly

didn't have much screen time, excluding the time the audience just sees his shoes and pant's legs.

I found Maxine Cooper believable in her role. That's the way I usually judge acting. Perhaps a

bit simple, but it works for me. There's the scene where Hammer goes to the gym and the guy

tells him about his great new boxing prospect and Hammer thinks he's pulling his leg. Then

when Hammer is tied to the bed in the beach house there is a fight on the radio. Maybe that

was the same boxer they were talking about earlier at the gym and he's winning the fight.

I'll have to pay more attention to that angle next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

In my case Hibi, it has to do with how I perceived her line-readings in particular seemed unnatural, fake and as if there was no real heart in them.

 

 

That's how I felt about Gaby Roger's line readings. I get that she WAS fake, but she wasn't trying too hard to hide it.

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I was fishing this weekend but I did catch it on Noir Alley 

My Review of the film and the many different Mike Hammers films and TV shows based on Spillane's character. (Friday, December 14, 2018) It includes the original ending of the novel at the very bottom, for those curious.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Nuclear Noir

"Remember me."

At this point in time, I've now seen quite a few of the various realizations of Mickey Spillane's New York City private detective Mike Hammer, They all have their pluses and minuses of one sort or another. Let's run them down. Leaving Kiss Me Deadly for last.

Mike Hammer is a fictional hyper hard boiled private eye created by the American author Mickey Spillane in the 1947 He fashioned Hammer out of an aborted comic book character called Mike Danger. Hardass Hammer carried a .45 Colt M1911A1 in a shoulder harness, and has a voluptuous secretary named Velda.

Spillane's first novel was I, The Jury, it was followed by The Twisted Thing [written in 1948] but not published until 1966. Spillane's next chronologically published novel was My Gun is Quick (1950), followed by Vengeance Is Mine! (1950), One Lonely Night (1951), The Big Kill (1951), and Kiss Me, Deadly (1952). Spillane then went on a ten year hiatus, returning to writing in 1962.

The on screen realization I haven't seen at this point in time is Mickey Spillane's 'Mike Hammer!' (1954) a 26 minute TV pilot that starred Brian Keith. It was screened in a special program at The Roxie theater and was discussed on The Silver Screen Oasis "Tonight, as part of the closing night program of our TV NOIR series at the Roxie, we’ll be presenting the insanely rare unsold 1954 pilot episode of MIKE HAMMER, written and directed by Blake Edwards and starring perennial fan favorite Brian Keith in the title role. It’s an uninhibited and sublime slab of noir brilliance and, for my money, the jewel in this particularly thorny crown of delights....    Chief among the many components that make this show work so well is Brian Keith.  Belligerent, loud, threatening; he’s got Hammer down to the last nail. His voiceover propels the action and even the most seemingly preposterous lines seem absolutely right: “The city was quiet and the sharp wind off the river smelled like rain.” He hits hard and when he’s hit, he’s hit just as hard. In one brawl with a pair of hoods, he winds up with a stinging shiner that he wears throughout the rest of the show as a badge of honor. Nearly matching him in sheer manic anger and volume is Robert Bice as Pat Chambers, his adversarial ally on the force and their contentious interaction throughout the story is tough and believable. Edwards’ script is sharp and his direction well paced, vastly superior to most television crime dramas in 1954. George Diskant, who photographed it, gave it a highly cinematic look despite being shot on a typically meager TV budget. MIKE HAMMER, an unsold TV pilot that hardly anyone has seen, rivals the best of his 40s noirs!

But what amazes most about this stunning little torpedo is how it obviously served as a blueprint for one of the most influential American films of the 50s—KISS ME DEADLY—made one year later by the same producer. A number of specific moments jump right out; Hammer viciously banging the back of a thug’s head against a brick wall who then slowly slides down to the ground unconscious is one of the most jolting. The relationship between Muuse and his two henchmen is an uncanny first incarnation of the Carl Evello / Charlie Max / Sugar Smallhouse triad from KMD. Don Harvey, as Ray Kittle, Muuse’s personal hit-man does the lion’s share of the heavy violence in this pilot and he’s especially brutal in his savage brawls with Hammer. And Virginia Lee (she could have easily been cast as Evello’s half-sister “Friday” in KMD) as Muuse’s kept girl is a major revelation, emerging as a key character in the story, giving it—and Hammer—surprisingly unexpected depth." ( Dewey1960 » July 20th, 2011, 11:13 am) 

I, The Jury (1953) became the first of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Detective series to be made into a movie. It was also during the initial 3D craze. The Hammer in I, The Jury is a no holds barred bull in a china shop type of PI. Spillane wrote Mike Hammer as the traditional Pulp/Detective but he pushed the bubble in his stories with excessive, over the top aggressive sexuality of his women characters going easily 20 years ahead of his time. The films wouldn't be able to be that explicit enough to do Mike Hammer justice until the late 1960's. By then the ability to do visually stylized noir with its great stable of Hollywood Studio character actors is gone. It was like two ships passing in the night.


Biff Elliott in I, The Jury is a bit miscast as Hammer, he looks a bit too young a bit too green, I would have picked someone like say Charles McGraw as closer to Spillane's brutish hair-triggered PI. Peggy Castel Tani Guthrie, and Dran Hamilton provide the hammer-tomically correct babes. The film though lacks any real NYC locations, it was all shot in LA

Now to be honest this is the first film with director of photography John Alton, where I've been a bit letdown, the compositions don't stand out. The DVDr version I saw seems too washed out and gray-ish compared to his usual inky blacks and silvery white work. It could be the fault of, or something to do with the 3D process.

Who knows how many copies removed it is from the source print. But there are a lot of sequences that are not very stylistically lighted at all and there are very few establishing NYC location shots compared to other Noirs set in NYC (not one skyline shot, bridge shot, nothing, street shots of building entrances are square on, no 3/4 shots showing some of the street perspective, very uninteresting camera angles for the most part). For a Mike Hammer NYC based film this is a big mistake. Think of all the great NYC city local based Noirs, Where The Sidewalk Ends, The Naked City, Kiss of Death, Side Street, The Phantom Lady, The Window, The Dark Corner that gave you a real feel for the city, you don't get that here.

Next up chronologically was our featured film Kiss Me Deadly (see below).

My Gun Is Quick (1957) I caught off Netflix. Robert Bray puts in a passable portrayal as Mike Hammer. He's Hammer-esque but again here is a case where the action is moved to California and the talent to make an acceptable Noir-ish stylized Mike Hammer film is noticeably lacking, it looks made on the cheap, it plays like a TV film and is nowhere near Aldrich's film noir masterpiece.

The broads Whitney Blake, Patricia Donahue, Pamela Duncan, prostitute Jan Chaney, and stripper Genie Coree  are again "hammer-tomically" correct but again as in both "I The Jury" (1953),  and in "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955) the slightly gratuitous sexuality which should be a touchstone in any Mike Hammer based film is PG-13 if even that. To put it bluntly the "literal" Hammer babes (save for Velda) usually peel for Mike at every opportunity.


Another big faux pas in Hammer-city is where the **** is the Colt .45 M1911A1 automatic ????, Bray runs around with what looks like a .38 special, a popgun in comparison. Come on, right from the get-go with the scene in the lunch counter you know it's gonna be off. That M1911A1 should have been featured like Don Siegel featured Dirty Harry's ".44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off...."

Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1958-59) was a TV series starring Darren McGavin, quite a few of the episodes were penned by Frank Kane.

Kane himself was another hard boiled author of the Johnny Liddell detective novels. Liddell was also a NYC P.I. The Hammer character in this series becomes a Hammer/Liddell composite the result of which is more like Hammer lite. Hammer has no secretary Velda, but does have a plethora of hammer-tomically correct babes in almost every episode. There are a lot of interesting, run of the mill, realistic, routine type cases involving, missing persons, con artists, small time crooks, bookies, chorus girls, and blackmail that are believable.

Quite a few episodes are noir-ish, there are a lot of fistfights and some quite impressive gun battles. McGavin's Hammer here though, uses a .38 caliber revolver most of the time and wears a pork pie hat with a large hatband.  The pluses here are quite a few on location shooting, this is the New York City I remember quite a few vestiges of the late 40s close to the correct time period as the original novels.

The Girl Hunters (1963) Has got some positives & negatives.

Positives:

Some New York City establishing & location shots, this was again "my" city, the 1963 Manhattan I remember as a kid, the NYPD black, white & olive green squad cars (BTW they changed to today's white & blue color scheme during 1973-74), the Checker yellow cabs, the store fronts. Mike Hammer in fairly close to his correct environment.

Shirley Eaton, "hammer-tomically" correct in every way, she is the femme fatale of the piece and a knockout. For those of you not familiar with the name she later became the iconic girl in gold in the James Bond flick Gold Finger. She also has a memorable final denouement. Also Noir vet Loyd Nolan makes a nice supporting appearance.

Negatives:

Not really filmed in the Film Noir style and despite the spliced in NYC establishing shots, the film was actually shot in London, UK. and you can tell.  Mickey Spillane himself plays Hammer, like some kind of vanity project, now if Spillane was an actor it may have been better, he looks, compared to Darren McGavin a bit ridiculous in the pork-pie hat. No Velma. It could have used more of everything, it's a bit too sparse as it is, more interesting interiors, transitions, shots, lighting, camera angles, more time with bit part characters, see Kiss Me Deadly as a comparison.

Score is a bit way too one note and somewhat overpowering where it is used. I prefer "Harlem Nocturne" which was used as the main theme in the Keach TV Hammer series, it just edges out "Rift Blues" used in McGavin's Mike Hammer.

And what is with this fetish with bullets, and linking crimes with bullets fired by the same gun, this film and I, The Jury (1953) use this device and you got to think to yourself that any criminal with a brain is going to get rid of the murder weapon and not conveniently keep reusing the same gun over and over. Not enough sex & graphic violence, again the books are still ahead of the films in this department.

Let's pause here and reflect on a lost opportunity. The Motion Picture Production Code fizzled out around 1967-68, here the window of opportunity opened for a Mike Hammer production that would have been free to exploit the all violence and used all the women in various stages of undress it could dream of. The closest we get to a Hammer like character that hits on all cylinders is his San Francisco facsimile Dirty Harry. No Mike Hammer films for an 18 year hiatus.

Margin For Murder - TV movie (1981) I'll give this one credit for being almost completely shot in the grittier neighborhoods of New York City, and it has plenty of night shots, decrepit building interiors, and to boot, Hammer actually wears a fedora in a couple of sequences, bravo, better in those areas than next years Assante's film which seemed a bit too antiseptic, location wise, in that respect.

But again we are hampered by being in the contemporary modern era with a discotheque and its music and all the visions of "Saturday Night Fever" that that, conjures up. Kevin Dodson at least plays Hammer as tough as Assante, and the babes are again "hammer-tomically" correct.


Velda in this go round is more of a plain Jane secretary, not as pro-active as Laurene Landon in I, The Jury (1982). More fisticuffs than bullets flying in this Hammer version, and I don't think it's based on any particular Spillane novel. This film also has a sidebar story of Hammer & Velda trying to find a home for stray puppies. Again as in I, The Jury there seems to be a penchant for making Spillane's movies into over blow conspiracy stories, trying to go for more spectacle, don't know if this was the trend in most of Spillane's stories or not, the most of the ones I've read seemed simpler tales.

Not as much graphic violence and no nudity (its a TV film after all) as next years I, The Jury would have. This film also has a Nelson Riddle score that pales in comparison to Bill Conti's in 1982's remake of I, The Jury. 7/10

I, The Jury (1982) It took 30 some odd years for a film to really do full justice to the zeitgeist of a Mickey Spillane novel. The best looking and true Noir adaptation is still Kiss Me Deadly (1955) with Ralph Meeker, but it was hampered by being made while the Hays Code was still in effect. Right from the opening credits of I, The Jury (1982) you know you are in Mike Hammer land with the emphasis on women and the Colt .45 automatic, Broads & Bullets, Girls and Guns (both kinds).  I’m sure graphic novelist Frank Miller (Sin City) had to have seen this graphic opening sequence in three colors black, white, and red, and was influenced by it. If not, it predates that style by 10 years.

This version has Hammer’s office located above Times Square, set in the post Vietnam 80’s. In this version Velda who in the novels was also a licensed detective holds her own doing double duty as a competent secretary/associate, and quasi love interest, she shows flashes of jealousy when Mike returns to the office disheveled and bruised from his escapades.

What’s not to like. Barely Neo Noir if that. The one noir lit sequence that I do remember was when Hammer goes to pay respects to Jack's wife. Most of the film is too brightly lit. There is also no first person narrative. The cinematography is adequate, but very pedestrian, nothing stylistic.

Armand Assante as Hammer hews closer to the Ralph Meeker look than what you picture Mike Hammer should look like (for me that would have been the great Charles McGraw), but he has the machismo and misogynistic qualities right, lol.

Setting the story in the post Vietnam 1980’s takes away the mix of legitimate nightclubs, and ballrooms with dirtier, grittier, sleazier, New York that was on the horizon that late fifties to early Seventies period. By the 80's Times Square was on the brink of redevelopment.

There’s unexplainably still no street level connection with Hammer to the Burlesque Joints, XXX Movie Theaters, The “Live Nude Girl” Peep Shows, the Arcades, the newspaper stands, the street vendors, the con games, the Dime A Dance Ballrooms, the bums, the panhandlers, the hookers, etc., etc. 1971's Shaft did it better. New York was starting to lose that real transitional ambiance, too bad. I remember The 42nd St. Times Square area ridden with the above in 1970, and by the time I returned in 1996 it had changed to Disneyland. Minor quibbles. the film is a 7-8/10

Murder Me Murder You (1983) and More Than Murder (1984) (TV films), with Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer, nice New York location work and they shot in the winter with lingering piles of snow, on the streets and icing the buildings, but once again Hammer is depicted too far out of his time period, Keach is adequate as Mike Hammer and Tanya Roberts as Velda is once again hammer-tomically correct, some of the supporting cast are interesting but the disco era is all wrong. At least Keach is wearing a fedora.

The first film has a lot, actually, let me be more precise TOO MANY big hairdo big breasted Amazon chicks that the hammer-tomically correct effect is incredibly watered down. They all blend into one another and they are WASTED.

Its gets to the point that there are no average women around to "stack" them up against, there is even a mud wrestling sequence, but being a TV film they are wearing bikinis. Who  did the casting on this The Playboy Club? These films led to The New Mike Hammer TV Series (1984–1989) another TV movie Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All (1989) and a another TV Series Mike Hammer, Private Eye (1997–1998). I've only seen a few episodes of both series, but for me the era difference makes them uninteresting.

The best New York based Hammer in close to the correct time period was TV's Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer set in 1958-1959.

Which brings us to what is still the best overall Mike Hammer film Kiss Me Deadly (1955).

It's a Classic Film Noir directed masterfully by Robert Aldrich. It's one of the first of the Tail Fin Noirs where you get a sample of the new Pop Jet Set to come. It's also a sort of interesting take on Pandora's Box. It has a great a screenplay by A.I. Bezzerides along with some additions by (uncredited) Robert Aldrich. The story is based on trashmaster Mickey Spillane's Kiss Me, Deadly with it's iconoclast, misogynist P.I. Mike Hammer.  It's similar in the following respect to the Darren McGavin - Hammer TV 1958-59 series which was also based on Spillane's character but was composited with novelist Frank Kane's Johnny Liddell also a NYC P.I. The result in that series is Hammer lite.

In Kiss Me Deadly A.I. Bezzerides' alterations include transposing Hammer to Los Angeles, gone is the .45 Colt M1911A1, the trench coat and fedora/pork pie hat, and changing the narcotics angle in the original novel into a more, then current issue, of a stolen sample of fissionable material, dubbed by Velda as the "great whatzit?" Hammer is an antihero here, no shining knight, he's out for what's in it for him.

It's got loads of visual style that convey a moody atmosphere that smacks ya upside the head right from the get go.

Darkness. Bare running feet. Pavement. A naked woman in a trench coat sprinting down the highway.  Breathing heavy. Trying to flag down a car. Desperate. She stands on the centerline and forces a Jaguar XK120  skidding in a cloud of dust off the road.


Christina Bailey (Cloris Leachman)
It's a Californicated Mike Hammer. He's got attitude, a head of hair, and drives a ragtop car so he can feel the wind through it.

The Jag has stalled out. The radio tinkles West Coast jazz. He steps on the starter. Spinning not catching. The woman comes over. Hammer sneers. He's still a Hammer with attitude. You know that if that Porsche had started the woman would be picking gravel out of her teeth and crotch.


"You almost wrecked my car!" (Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer
Mike Hammer: You almost wrecked my car! Well?
Christina Bailey: [panting out of breath]
Mike Hammer: Get in!

Hammer in this incarnation still a sort of bull in a china shop. He gets quite far in his investigation even though he doesn't possess all the crucial facts. He's quite thuggish, threatening witnesses smacking around reluctant informers, and quite easily handles mob enforcers.

Kiss Me Deadly  is one of the high watermarks of the latter end of Classic Film Noir,. It boasts some excellent cinematography combined with inventive editing. It uses Bunker Hill to great advantage while firing on all cylinders and moving along at a quick pace, it has an ingenious sound design that at times shocks by being purposely out of sync which adds to the ambiguousness of the inky black nightmare-ish story. It has a great cast of Classic Noir Vets that provide cinematic memory complimented with some relative unknowns and newbies. It builds suspense in increments with events finally spiraling out of control in a climactic nuclear meltdown. 

I mentioned earlier the novels ending sequence. It has Mike who has just shot Dr. Soberin dead, confronted by Lily Carver who has just emerged from an alcohol bath wearing a thin robe.

"Beautiful Lily with hair as white as snow. Her mouth a scarlet curve that smiled. Her body a tight bundle of lush curves that swelled and moved under a light terrycloth robe. Lovely Lily who brought the sharpness of the alcohol bath in with her so that it wet her robe so that there was nothing there, no hill or valley no shadow that didn't come out....

Gorgeous Lily with my .45 in her hand." (She shoots him in the side) On the floor in  pain Mike fumbles for a cigarette.

"I thought I almost loved you once. More than . . . him. But I didn't Mike. He would take me as I was. He was the one who gave me life, at least, after. . . it happened. he was the doctor. I was the patient. I loved him. You would have been disgusted with me. I can see your eyes now, Mike they would have been revolted....

Look at me Mike. How would you like to kiss me now. You wanted to before... You wanted to kiss me . . . so kiss me."

Her fingers slipped  through the belt of the robe, opened it. Her hands parted it slowly. . . until I could see what she was really like. I wanted to vomit worse than before. I wanted to let my guts come up and felt my belly retching.

She was a horrible caricature of a human! There was no skin, just a disgusting mass of twisted puckered flesh from her knees to her neck making a picture of gruesome freakishness that made you want to shut your eyes against it.

The cigarette almost fell out of my mouth. The lighter shook in my hand but I got it open. 
"Fire did it Mike. Do you think I pretty Now?" She laughed and I could hear the insanity in it. The gun pressed into my belt as she kneeled forward bringing the revulsion with her. "You're going to die now. . . but first you can do it.  Deadly. .  . deadly. . . kiss me."

The smile never left her mouth and before it was on me I thumbed the lighter and in the moment of time before the scream blossoms into the wild cry of terror she was a mass of flame tumbling on the floor with the blue flames of alcohol turning her white hair into a black char and her body convulsing under the agony of it. The flames were teeth that ate, ripping and tearing, into scars of other flames, and her voice the shrill sound of death on the loose. 

I looked, looked away, The door was closed and maybe I had enough left to make it."


The End

Full review with screencaps here: Noirsville

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56 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Full review with screencaps here: Noirsville

Full review? That post wins "Longest Post Ever" on this board!

Can't find the post to quote, but I too sat with my mouth agape at the end of KISS ME DEADLY-shocked first time I saw it. It still impacts me every time even though I know it's coming-I imagine it's the long slow build up.

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24 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Full review? That post wins "Longest Post Ever" on this board!

Can't find the post to quote, but I too sat with my mouth agape at the end of KISS ME DEADLY-shocked first time I saw it. It still impacts me every time even though I know it's coming-I imagine it's the long slow build up.

Well, when you've seen the film numerous times and have a lot of thoughts about it, Mike Hammer, and Mickey Spillane's novels, and related works of cinematic art,  you tend to have a lot to say.  

You TikiSoo, may especially be interested in the original ending of the novel as Spillane wrote it. Its in red at the end so you can scroll to it. You'll realize that that scene is partially used earlier in the film when Meeker confronts Gabby in the flop hotel.

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25 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Well, when you've seen the film numerous times and have a lot of thoughts about it, Mike Hammer, and Mickey Spillane's novels, and related works of cinematic art,  you tend to have a lot to say.  

You TikiSoo, may especially be interested in the original ending of the novel as Spillane wrote it. Its in red at the end so you can scroll to it. You'll realize that that scene is partially used earlier in the film when Meeker confronts Gabby in the flop hotel.

Thanks for the original ending! Who ever takes an alcohol bath? LOL. Never heard of such a thing. Wouldn't it dry out your skin? Did women do that back then?

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14 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

To all  you supposed noir fans who were left indifferent to Kiss Me Deadly - I say, what is the matter with you people?  What does it take to impress you?  An incredibly unusual, riveting movie and all you folks can say is "meh" ??

Look, I could understood someone not liking the film; after all, it's got a lot of nastiness, the main character is not everyone's idea of a sympathethic protagonist, the plot is almost as convoluted as The Big Sleep,  and that ending, unforgettable though it is , is also , let's face it, a downer.   I get all that, I get someone not finding watching Kiss Me Deadly a pleasant experience.   But what I don't get is someone saying it's "Ok".  It's way more than "Ok".    Dislike it if you want, but don't damn it with faint praise--it deserves so much more than that.

This is a film that jumps off the screen and grabs you, right from the start.  Look at the credits---they're  backwards !  They run on the screen from the bottom up. What a great, imaginative way to show us, right from the get-go, that this movie is about a world where things can go very, very wrong.  And the way it begins:  we have a young woman desperately running barefoot - barefoot-  along a deserted highway in the middle of the night.  She stops an approaching car by standing right in the middle of the road, her arms up.  What's going on, what's going to happen next?

Chloris Leachmans' character only has the one scene (unless you count that terrible torture scene,  which is mercifully short), but she packs a lot into those few minutes.  Who is she, where did she come from, why is she terrified?  The fact that these questions are at best, only partially answered -- well, not really answered at all -- doesn't matter.  She's ignited our curiosity, and she haunts the rest of the film.  

Something else really different about Kiss Me Deadly:  there's classical music all over the place.  We hear it a whole lot, not just when Mike Hammer turns on the radio in Christine's apartment, but later, when  Velda is practicing ballet  (?? how many secretaries do that?  there's more to this woman than luring men to help her boss's job), and of course, the opera-singer's scene.  Poor guy, Mike shouldn't have smashed his prized record like that.  But what an entertaining scene !

Also:  as Eddie pointed out in the intro, Mike Hammer may be nasty to a lot of people, but he's sincerely kind and respectful to his friends.  He's heartbroken when poor Nick gets killed;  he helps lighten the moving man's load  (and not just to get information);  he's bothered by the fact that Christine's "roommate" let her bird die;  he puts himself at risk to rescue Velda from the beach house  (little did he know how much risk).   And -let's remember this film was made in 1955-  he hangs out with Black people, and respects them.  I love the nightclub scene, where the Black lady is singing, with that great jazz/blues band backing her up.    He's not really so bad;  true, he's pretty violent with some people, but they're never the nice  people in the story.  The coroner took his money and still refused to help !  Also,  it doesn't hurt that much to get your hand jammed in a drawer.  It's not fun, but I wouldn't say it was sadistic of Mike to do that, he just wanted results, like so many noir protagonists.  And I'm pretty sure all the screaming was turned up and exaggerated  (as it was a few times in the film.)

The plot?  Sure, I've seen it four times now and I still don't know exactly what's going on and who everybody is.  I don't care.  The movie's so full of style and grit and surprises and oddball characters, I'm thoroughly entertained for all 106 minutes of it.  If we were to only wholeheartedly like the noirs where the plot makes sense, there'd be precious few noirs that we'd like.  Plot is not why I love film noir.

There's lots more to say about Kiss Me Deadly, I'll just wrap up by saying,  even if, inexplicably,  you're not sold on it for most of its running, time, shirley that ending grabs your attention.  The first time I saw this film,  I couldn't believe it.  I think I sat there, mouth agape in astonishment, for a full minute after "the end" appears on the screen. Some people say they like noir because it's so dark - well, it don't get much darker than this.   Apocalyptic.

 

Sorry , Miss Wonderly.  I read your review and cigarjoe's long, long trailer, err post, as well as all the other posts.  Still don't find much in KMD to appreciate.  I think my original post pretty well covers why and then add in Dargo's review.

14 hours ago, nakano said:

I watched The Girlhunters1963 directed by Roy Rowland with Mickey Spillane playing Mike Hammer,the writer playing his fictionnal character.Spillane was credited with some of the screenplay. A neo Noir a good effort featuring the sultry Shirley Eaton,one year before Goldfinger,in the movie she wears 5 different bikinis...my favorite Bond Girl with Luciana Paluzzi. 7/10, the bikinis are not rated.   I know it was not on Noir Alley but since Spillane was heavily featured  in the show

girlhunters.jpg

I think I saw this long time ago, but would enjoy seeing it again and the other Mike Hammer movies.

Mickey Spillaine lived inzMurrells Inlet, S.C. for a long time, including when I was in high school.  Remember that he and his wife judged the school beauty contest and his kids attended school in Georgetown, S.C. , although a few years behind me.

 

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27 minutes ago, ElCid said:

Sorry , Miss Wonderly.  I read your review and cigarjoe's long, long trailer, err post, as well as all the other posts.  Still don't find much in KMD to appreciate.  I think my original post pretty well covers why and then add in Dargo's review.

Don't worry ElCid I'm not gonna loose any sleep over your lack of appreciation. I put it there for those who may appreciate it.

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