Film: Kiss Me Deadly

Christina Bailey: You have only one real lasting love.
Mike Hammer: Now who could that be?
Christina Bailey: You. You're one of those self-indulgent males who thinks about nothing but his clothes, his car, himself. Bet you do push-ups every morning just to keep your belly hard.

1955 Film Noir adaptation of the Crime Fiction novel by Mickey Spillane directed by Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane) and starring Ralph Meeker as Los Angeles Private Detective Mike Hammer. Spillane didn't like the film as it actually deconstructed his macho, tough guy creation and differed from the original story by involving Cold War espionage and a nuclear MacGuffin. Originally unsuccessful upon it's theatrical release it is now considered one of the classic examples of Film Noir and later cited as influential among directors of the French New Wave and also Quentin Tarantino when he made Pulp Fiction.

A terrified young woman wearing only a trenchcoat is running down a highway at night. She stops a car driven by private divorce detective Mike Hammer. He picks her up, from then on becoming embroiled in a plot involving murder, missing scientists and a mysterious box...


The film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: One of the reasons that Mickey Spillane didn't like the film was because it made the anti-heroic but otherwise moral Mike Hammer into an amoral, narcissistic bully.
  • Cool Car: Mike's two seat white Jaguar convertible.
  • The Coroner: Mike tries to bribe one to get a key from him. When the coroner tries to more money from him Mike slams his fingers in his desk drawer until he gives it to him.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Opening credits, that is. They're shown in reverse order, descending from the top of the screen in a scroll. Meeker's credit appears like this:
    MEEKER
    RALPH
    STARRING
  • Damsel in Distress: Christina Bailey and later her roommate Lily Carver. Subverted in she is later revealed to be not the real Lily but Gabrielle, the mistress of the Big Bad.
  • Deconstruction: Director Aldrich and the screenwriter deconstructs the Hardboiled Detective character, depicting him as an amoral, vicious narcissist.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Mike goes to a bar and downs a whole bottle of bourbon after his friend Nick is killed for getting involved in Mike's investigation.
  • Dutch Angle: Used throughout a scene where a dazed Hammer briefly regains consciousness in the hospital.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Mike's car bursts into flame while gently rolling down a ravine.
  • External Combustion: The killers have left a sports car outside his apartment building in perfect condition. His mechanic friend Nick goes to start it but Mike stops him and and shows that under the hood there's a bomb connected to the starter. Later when they check under the car at Nick's garage Mike shows that there was a second bomb set to go off when the car accelerates to higher speeds driving in the country.
  • Femme Fatale: Lily Carver, who tricks Mike into thinking she's an innocent damsel but is actually an impostor, and a murderous one to boot.
  • Friend on the Force: Lt. Pat Murphy, who tries to get Hammer to step aside. Towards the end a scornful Murphy notes that Hammer's selfishness has endangered Velma.
  • Genre Savvy: Mike figures out there's not one but two bombs planted in a car delivered to him.
  • Girl Friday: Velda, who runs Mike's business affairs, is a Honey Pot for his divorce cases, and apparently provides sex whenever he wants it.
  • The Fifties
  • Hardboiled Detective
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: Mike smashes an opera singer's valuable 78 rpm record in order to get information from him.
  • Jerk Ass: Mike, especially the scene where he breaks a valuable opera record of someone he's questioning.
  • Kubrick Stare: Produced in the last scene when a homicidal Lily/Gabrielle looks up at the much taller Mike.
  • Kung-Foley: Some earthshattering blows when Hammer fights two mooks on the beach.
  • MacGuffin: The "Great Whatsit", which is never really explained, but is something nuclear and very deadly.
    Velda: What is it? Who cares?
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The kidnapping and murder of Christine reveals a plot to steal some sort of ghastly nuclear device.
  • Pet the Dog: Mike's genuine friendship for Nick the mechanic and also his unusual (for the times) friendship and rapport with a couple of African American characters in the film.
  • Playing Both Sides: Mike Hammer's method as a divorce detective. He's hired by a husband to get evidence against his wife for a divorce, then secretly is hired by the wife to get evidence against her husband.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Swallow the Key: Christine leaves Mike a note which leads to him fgurig out that she swallowed something to hide it from the bad guys. Sure enough, he retrieves a key from the coronoer.
  • The Teaser: Christine is shown running alone on the highway at night. After she gets picked up by Mike Hammer the opening credits begin.
  • The Un-Reveal: The mysterious briefcase. All we see is that it gives off a blindingly bright glow (possibly nuclear in origin).
  • What's in It for Me?: Hammer says this when Murphy urges him to tell what he knows and let the police handle things.