Sunday, February 20, 2011
Kiss Me Deadly - Robert Aldrich
Ed here: Peter Bogdanovich writes the best kind of blog, informed, amused and opinionated, even though some of his opinions collide with mine i.e. his mandatory put-down of Mickey Spillane. But this post is a fine example of a man who knows both Hollywood and the history of film writing about an infamous masterpiece and a director who occasionally had true greatness in him. http://blogs.indiewire.com/peterbogdanovich/archives/kiss_me_deadly/# You should definitely bookmark the site.
Kiss Me Deadly
by Peter Bogdanovich
Talk about the tension between a director and his material—which was one of the critical cornerstones of the French New Wave’s reassessment of American movies—-and they were the first to point out this frisson in the work of iconoclastic director-producer Robert Aldrich; perhaps most noticeably in his aggressive independent film, the dark and dangerous 1955 thriller, KISS ME DEADLY (available on DVD). Aldrich hated detective-fiction writer Mickey Spillane’s novels so much that he took one of the author’s most popular and typical Mike Hammer private-eye stories and transformed it into not only the best picture ever made from Spillane (which isn’t saying much) but a savagely angry film noir classic of annihilating dimension—-literally: At the end, everybody, including Hammer, gets blown away in a dusk-lit Malibu beach house by no less than a nuclear blast. What then happened to L.A. is left to the imagination.
The whole thing starts out quietly one night with a terrified young woman—-Cloris Leachman’s first role—-running barefoot along a deserted blacktop wearing only a raincoat. Hammer—-played exceedingly tough, with virtually no charm, by Ralph Meeker—-picks her up, tries to help her. When she gets murdered anyway, it really pisses him off and this is how he gets involved in the labyrinthine mystery that unfolds and remains fairly difficult to figure out all the way through. But, though often impenetrable, it’s also completely riveting—-like a down and dirty The Big Sleep—-Howard Hawks’ equally mystifying 1946 detective picture with Humphrey Bogart as Raymond Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe (also available on DVD).