Aug 7, 2011

Kiss Me Deadly (1955), dir by

Robert Aldrich, is a flat-out Camp Masterpiece.  How has this film escaped me for so long? The ending of the film is so ludicrous and over-the-top, yet, you are still there, sweating, on the edge of your seat.

Obv, Kiss Me Deadly is a big blueprint for much of Tarantino's work, but I also see this film as a huge influence on Todd Haynes and Thomas Pynchon.  Well, at least, on Pynchon's shorter (and better) "California" novels, i.e., Crying of Lot 49, Vineland, Inherent Vice, etc, ...

(Sidebar:  A fun game to play w/ those truly sad Pynchon freaks, who carry a copy of Gravity's Rainbow in their hip pocket, is to get right up in their grill, and tell them that Gravity's Rainbow is a pile of shit, and that Vineland is Pynchon's best novel, by far.  Watch theys heads explodes.)

The violence in Kiss Me Deadly is shocking, at times laughable, certainly full of malice, small, mean, and brutal.  The "sex", as it were, in Kiss Me Deadly is sub-tropical, at times laughable (the "make-out/pumping my assistant for info scene" comes to mind), full more of malice than love certainly, small, mean, and a little unseemly at times.

And, who the hell is this Mike Hammer? I do not know poop about Mickey Spillane, but I thought Hammer was supposed to be a seedy, down on his luck dick, trying to make his fortune by setting the honeys up with his client's deadbeat, loser husbands.

(Sidebar two:  There is a fantastic, real-life crime story going on up here in Walnut Creek right now, wherein a private dick had a deal with the cops that he would get his client's husbands sloshed at the frickin' Spaghetti Factory in Concord, seducing the dudes w/ hot chicks he had hired, and then having the cops immediately bust the dudes for DUI as they left the restaurant.  There is so much more, too, all local.  But that is for another time.)

Anyhoo, in the movie Mike Hammer is a sadistic, bitter, v rich (?!), renaissance man, who can relate to boxers as well as mezzo-sopranos.  He lives in a penthouse apartment (in L.A.?, wha?) and has an answering machine (1955, mind you) built in to the wall.  You half expect for him to bust out humming Esquivel at any moment.

Moreover, Hammer has absolutely no problem essentially pimping out the love of his life, his "secretary/His Girl Friday/assistant" (who basically does all the leg work, if you'll pardon the expression, while Hammer looks tough, drinks, and punches guys down staircases.)

It has got to be a joke, right? This film is so mean.  It is meta-Noir.  Natch, Spillane was displeased, but authors are always hurt, yes? A bunch of poor, whiny cry babies, authors are.

If you are hungry for a Space Age Bachelor Pad Film full of gritty, weird-ass amazing cinematography, unseemly sex barely skirting S&M, nasty violence, and ludicrous apocalyptic endings (and who is not hungry for that) than Kiss Me Deadly fits the fucking bill.

An absolute Camp Masterpiece.  I'll watch it again and again and again, ...

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