Tag Archives: Robert Aldrich

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

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

Emperor of the North

A couple of months ago I stumbled across the existence of Melbourne-based independent movie distribution company, Bounty Films. The movie that introduced me to them was their release of the hard to get 1955 heist film, Violent Saturday.

Following on from that, Ben Hellwig, Bounty’s Acquisition Manager, was good enough to send me a few of the choice selections from their rapidly expanding catalogue, including a film I’ve been wanting to see for ages called Emperor of the North (or Emperor of the North Pole as its otherwise know).

Made in 1973, Emperor of the North has three big things going for it.

First, Robert Aldrich, who did The Dirty Dozen and one of my all time favourite film noirs, Kiss Me Deadly, directed it.

Second, it stars one of my cinematic icons, Lee Marvin.

Third, it has steam trains. Lots of them.

Emperor of the North takes place in the Pacific Northwest of the United States at the height of the great depression. Economic chaos has created an army of drifters and hoboes who roam the countryside hopping trains when they can.

Except for the number 19, watched over by a sadistic train guard known as Shack (played with eye popping intensity by Ernest Borgnine). With the aid of the large hammer he carries in his belt, Shack ensures that no one rides the number 19 for free.… Read more