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Directed by Robert Aldrich

United States 1955 106 mins. In English

One of the grittiest and downright nasty films noir of the classical Hollywood cycle (albeit independently produced), Kiss Me Deadly is adapted from legendary pulp crime writer Mickey Spillane’s novel of the same name. Spillane’s most iconic character, private investigator Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker), is at the center of the action—involving mysterious women, shady bosses and their hired thugs, and one very mysterious and potentially lethal box, which everyone longs to get their hands on. “In some ways the apotheosis of film noir—it’s certainly one of the most extreme examples of the genre, brimming with barely suppressed hysteria and set in a world totally without moral order. Even the credits run upside down. This independently produced low-budget film was a shining example for the New Wave directors—Truffaut, Godard, et al—who found it proof positive that commercial films could accommodate the quirkiest and most personal of visions.”—Dave Kehr, The Chicago Reader.

Appears in: Essential Cinema