Tag Archives: Mickey Spillane

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

Interview: Australian pulp fiction historian Toni Johnson Woods

Dr Toni Johnson Woods is someone I’ve been keen to interview on this blog for a while now.

A Research Fellow at University of Queensland, she is passionate about Australian books. Not just capital ‘L’ literature, but the local mass produced pulp fiction of the forties, fifties and early sixties, the existence of which has all but disappeared from our collective cultural memory.

Her commitment to the cause of local pulp includes having listened to hours of popular radio serials (Carter Brown Mystery Theatre and Larry Kent’s I Hate Crime), scanned thousands of pulp fiction covers and read every nearly all 300 Carter Brown novels.

She very generously agreed to answer the following questions about her work by e-mail.

What attracted you to researching pulp fiction in the first place? 

One very unremarkable day I was chatting with colleagues in the tearoom. As you can imagine our conversations are very lofty – not.  I asked the most basic question: who is Australia’s most popular author.

Well, we batted that around for several minutes arguing about what “popular” means, i.e. best selling, most widely read, most known author.  All of these things are not the same. The discussion then turned to what is an Australian author, i.e. someone who was born in Australia?… 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

Books my father read

July 24 was the fourth anniversary of the death of my father, William Nette.

He died peacefully in hospital on the Queensland Gold Coast, where he had retired with my mother many years earlier. He was 86.

William Nette, Papua New Guinea, 1942

Like many father-son relationships, we didn’t always get on. That’s putting it mildly. But he brought a lot of positive influences to my life.

He turned me onto the joy of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Art Blakey and Dave Brubeck. He had a large collection of 78s wrapped in brown paper that he’d secreted out of Papua New Guinea, where he was an armed forces disc jockey during the war, along with cartons of cigarettes he later sold in Australia.

Only recently have I realised he’s also responsible for much of the delight I find in reading and my particular fondness of crime fiction.

I remember the pivotal moment quite clearly. I was thirteen. He came home from work one day and, to my complete horror, announced he was withholding my allowance until I started reading books (comics, which I loved, didn’t count).

He set the first two books, Robinson Crusoe, followed by Treasure Island. They were heavy looking volumes with no pictures that had belonged to my father when he was a boy.… Read more