Tag Archives: Albert Dekker

Projection Booth podcast #352: Kiss Me Deadly

It was a joy and a thrill to join film scholar Kevin Heffernan and Mike White, host of the terrific Projection Booth podcast, for an episode of his show on what is probably my favourite film noir, Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955).

Kiss Me Deadly is one of those films I watch every year or so and always find something new to appreciate about it. Talking with my two co-podcasters, I discovered even more to like about it. Issues canvassed during this podcast include:

Mike Hammer (and Mickey Spillane) as the personification of the crisis in post WWII masculinity, and the women in the film as examples of females who are fighting against the confines of their role in American society in the 1950s.

Pulp fiction.

The film’s popularity in France, particularly within surrealist circles for its depiction of the incoherence of everyday life and mass commercial culture.

The Cold War nuclear state, paranoia and surveillance.

THAT answering machine.

Jack Elam.

Ernest Laszlo’s sensational cinematography.

Los Angeles’ former Bunker Hill area as the 1940s/50s B-movie/noir outdoor film shooting location of choice.

The psychiatrist as an archetypal villain in 1940s/1950s American film.

Other fictional noir detective equivalents to Mike Hammer, including Harry Moseby in Arthur Penn’s 1975 film, Night Moves (okay that last part might of been just me).… Read more

The Killers 1964 & 1946

The following is posted as part of Furious Cinema’s Scenes of the Crime Blog-a-Thon. It originally appeared in the Fall 2012 edition of Noir City.

One short story, Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers, which appeared in 1927, two film versions.  Robert Siodmak directed the first in 1946. Don Siegel helmed the later in 1964. Both films begin with the premise of Hemingway’s 2951 word piece; two anonymous professional killers hired to murder a man, but in most other respects are completely different.

Siodmak’s movie opens, to the accompaniment of Miklos Rozsa’s brassy jazz score, with the arrival of the killers in a small town. It’s night and all we see are their silhouettes backlit by streetlights. First they check the filling station. Finding it closed, they cross the road, go into Henry’s Diner. You can tell they’re professionals, each enters a different way, cutting off any possibility of their quarry escaping.

In the space of a few minutes, Al (Charles McGraw) and Max (William Conrad), establish a sense of menace and disorientation as good as any classic noir cinema has to offer. After rubbishing the diner’s food and the customer’s small town ways, they tell George, the man behind the counter:

“I tell you what we’re going to do, we’re going to kill the Swede.”

“What are you going to kill him for?

Read more

Eight reasons to love Kiss Me Deadly

KissIt’s a tough call, but one of my favourite films noirs is Robert Aldrich’s 1955 movie, Kiss Me Deadly. I’ve seen it at least fives times, most recently a couple of nights ago, and still find things about it to appreciate I hadn’t noticed previously.

Shot in just three weeks with a group of largely no-name actors, Kiss Me Deadly is very loosely based on a Mickey Spillane novel of the same name. Most Pulp Curry readers are probably familiar with the plot, so I won’t go into it here. If you’re reading this and you’re not, all I can say is go and watch it – right now.

It’s one of the last of the classic era noirs and a great piece of pulp cinema. Here are 8 things I love about it.

1. The opening

On a deserted stretch of highway, tough guy private investigator Mike Hammer almost runs over a near hysterical woman standing in the middle of the road. Reluctantly, he gives her lift. The credits roll in reverse above the sound of the woman, Christina, sobbing and Nat ‘King’ Cole singing Rather Have Blue Eyes.

No sooner does she recovered her composure than she proceeds to psychoanalyse Hammer with a devastating accuracy that’s worth reprinting in full:

Christina: You’re angry with me, aren’t you?… Read more