Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kiss Me Deadly

I'm not really familiar with Mickey Spillane's work, being more a Hammett or Chandler guy myself. I rather liked the short-lived '80s series with Stacey Keach, but since I'd heard good things about this particular film--and I knew about the "whatsit" from somewhere (maybe the '80s cult classic Repo Man)--I queued it up and gave it a view.

It's...well, it's solid enough as a detective noir film, but Bezzerides script is subversive and Aldrich's direction plays that aspect of it up. So, Ralph Meeker's Hammer isn't just tough, he's sadistic and misogynistic. Life isn't just hard, it's cruel and isolating.


Part of the charm of the hard-boiled detective is that he's a good man, but he knows that a white hat will get him killed. He's not a sucker for dames but he's got a code. He'll think nothing of getting rough, but it has to achieve something.

So, the great photography, nuanced performances (Cloris Leachman in her first film role!) and intriguing story are marred by this misanthropic world view.

I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked, therefore.


  1. I think you have it wrong. The thing that was different about Spillane is that his heroes are bad men who do good. Who know their capacity for evil deeds but fight against it because they have a code of conduct? It is the antithesis to Hammet and Chandlers heroes. It is real hard boiled cynicism.

    A much more enjoyable Mickey Spillane flick is "I the Jury" with Armand Assante which really captures what Spillane was after. Fast dirty and violent it is total entertainment. With the smokin' hot Barbara Carera as the moll. See if you can catch it.

  2. You might be right. As I said, I haven't read Spillane. There's a scene in "Deadly" where Hammer is just beating on this helpless guy and smiling while he's doing it.

    The Stacy Keach TV show didn't have that, needless to say. What was cool about the show was that Hammer was always being hit on by large-breasted women that he would turn down. Heh. (I remember reading Spillane talk about that.)

    I also remember the "I, The Jury" movie. (I mean previews and outtakes and the like; I haven't seen it.) Barbara Carrera was all kinds of steamy. I have avoided it till now.


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