Kiss Me Deadly

Dir. Robert Aldrich. 1955, 106 mins. 35mm. With Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Gaby Rodgers. Director Robert Aldrich and screenwriter A.I. “Buzz” Bezzerides subvert Mickey Spillane’s reactionary pulp style, exposing his creation, the private detective Mike Hammer, as a shallow, narcissistic lout. In his blundering pursuit of a “great whatsit” that leaves a trail of bodies in its wake, Hammer moves through a frighteningly dehumanized L.A., an exploding world in which people zoom around like electrons, colliding but never connecting. Fragments of poetry and myth, the slivers of a shattered past, lurk among the brutish men and murderous cars. Confusing and feverish, the film seems driven by its own heat, like an internal combustion engine.

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