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RALPH MEEKER Double-Bill Sat Nov 15


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Tomorrow evening, November 15th, a particularly profound duet of 1955 noir sledgehammer blows featuring the great *Ralph Meeker* blast their way into your living rooms compliments of our friends at TCM.

 

First up is *BIG HOUSE USA* , a relatively obscure B film that is almost universally despised for its offhanded and disturbing physical and emotional violence. Meeker stars as a two-bit thug who hatches a plot to kidnap the young son of a millionaire. When the plan goes horribly awry the only solution appears to be cold-blooded murder. This is one gritty, unwholesome piece of work that doesn?t for one minute hold back when and where it matters. A four-star misunderstood masterpiece for those with the stomach to take it. Along for the ride are Broderick Crawford, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Charles Bronson.

 

Next up is Robert Aldrich?s demented and thoroughly subversive classic *KISS ME DEADLY* , a film that is almost universally adored and revered for its offhanded and disturbing physical and emotional violence. Meeker is stone cold perfection as Mickey Spillane?s bullet breath anti-hero Mike Hammer, a smug, condescending and self-absorbed ?bedroom dick? style private eye who finds himself up to his elbows in starlets as he races madly toward the end of the world in his futile quest for the ?great whatsit.? Noir doesn?t generally get much darker than this opus, and those with only a fleeting familiarity with its charms are urged to tune in.

 

This is a double-bill for the ages; be there!

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Big House USA was loaded with unpleasant characters, but at least they get their due. Charles Bronson had quite the physique in his youth. It took me awhile to recognize Felicia Farr. I don't think I've ever seen her as a blonde. Reed Hadley lends a Dragnet -style authenticity to the film. Willis Bouchey looked way too old to be the kidnapped boy's father. The scenery was great. Definitely a movie worth catching.

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> {quote:title=Film_Fatale wrote:}{quote}

> Most of the brutality took place offscreen, including Talman flame-broiling Bronson "his way."

>

> That is something I almost wish they could have shown on-screen. ;)

 

I think they must have practiced that scene quite a few times, which would explain Bronson's life-long craggy face.

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> {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> Most of the brutality took place offscreen, including Talman flame-broiling Bronson "his way."

 

I know, but that steam-broiling scene was too much for me, I have a pretty low threshold for stuff

like that. Had there been one character I could really latch onto, I might have struggled to stay

with it, but since they were all pretty rotten, from what I saw, I had to switch.

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

>Had there been one character I could really latch onto, I might have struggled to stay

> with it, but since they were all pretty rotten, from what I saw, I had to switch.

 

I see your point. I get that same feeling whenever I watch C-Span.

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> {quote:title=scsu1975 wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> >Had there been one character I could really latch onto, I might have struggled to stay

> > with it, but since they were all pretty rotten, from what I saw, I had to switch.

>

> I see your point. I get that same feeling whenever I watch C-Span.

 

Lol! For me, it's ANY news show, talk show, reality show, network TV show, cable TV show....

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  • 3 weeks later...

Re KISS ME DEADLY: "Demented" is the right word -- I usually think of it to describe Gaby Rodgers' eyes; it's a fascinating performance. And poor Cloris Leachman -- what did they do to her? Well, one of the thugs is seen approaching her with a pair of pliers -- ouch!

 

Most anti-heroes are supposed to have something admirable about them -- not Meeker's Mike Hammer. He's scum, period.

 

Has anyone noticed Maxine Cooper's resemblance to Mercedes McCambridge? Cooper could be McCambridge's more conventionally attractive sister, and the voice is uncannily similar.

 

About the blowtorch scene in BIG HOUSE U.S.A. -- that was anticipated in what I consider one of the all time great prison flicks, BRUTE FORCE (1947), when three or four cons surround a stoolie with, yes, blowtorches, using them to force him into a huge stamping machine. It just ruins his day.

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I have to disagree with you on Meeker's Hammer being thoroughly rotten "scum", in Kiss Me Deadly. At least he is trying to find out why Cloris was so scared - and who wanted to hurt her - and why. Like any good detective - even when not being compensated - he is like a dog with a bone, trying to get to the core of the mystery. He won't leave the beach house until he finds Velma and can save her, yes?

 

And come on - could he truly be all bad if good-hearted Nick, the mechanic, calls him a friend?

 

 

 

PS. I'll watch that film again and again, just to hear that box's ungodly howling!

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