Kiss Me Deadly is a 1955 film noir drama. In this atomic adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel, directed by Robert Aldrich, the good manners of the 1950s are blown to smithereens.
Ralph Meeker plays Mike Hammer, a tough Los Angeles private eye who is almost as brutal and corrupt as the crooks he chases. Mike and his assistant/secretary/lover, Velda (Maxine Cooper), usually work on “penny-ante divorce cases.”
One evening on a lonely country road, Hammer gives a ride to Christina (Cloris Leachman), an attractive hitchhiker wearing nothing but a trench coat. She has escaped from a nearby mental institution. Thugs waylay them and Hammer awakens in some unknown location where he hears Christina screaming and being tortured to death. The thugs then push Hammer’s car off a cliff with Christina’s body and an unconscious Hammer inside. Hammer next awakens in a hospital with Velda by his bedside.
He decides to pursue the case, both for vengeance and because “she (Christina) must be connected with something big” behind it all. Kiss me deadly is a masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold-war paranoia and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema.
In English, with English subtitles, IMDB rating: 7,7, 106 mins.