Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Kiss Me Deadly


I once tried to read a Mickey Spillane novel. I think it was I, the Jury. I got about three chapters in and not only did I put it down, I dropped it in the garbage can and covered it with slop. Nothing in the book appealed to me, and much really put me off. But it was interesting to watch this movie. Mike Hammer is an incredibly sleazy, unappealing character, but I have to say that Ralph Meeker does a darn good job portraying him. I also have to admit that the plot is pretty good. This was directed by Robert Aldrich early in his career. He would go on to do much better things, but his talent can be seen here. The movie veers erratically from wildly overdone scenes to other scenes that really show a touch of genius, especially in the choice of camera angles. The final sequence has become famous. There is a box containing some sort of glowing radioactive substance. When you open it, it sets you on fire and then blows up. It’s clear that Aldrich and Spillane knew very little about radiation, but then neither did anyone else in 1955, except that you needed a fallout shelter to protect you from it. It is famous because it was echoed in Repo Man, when someone opens a trunk and is fried in his boots. Quentin Tarantino was influenced by both these films when he did the glowing briefcase (contents unknown) in Pulp Fiction.