Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Panting Barefoot Panic Starts The Hammer

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Robert Aldrich Ralph Meeker film noir poster

And there I was sitting in a world where Stacy Keach was the only Mike Hammer from the hands of crime novelist Mickey Spillane. Stacy’s Mike smashed his way though our 80’s television screens like a, well, Hammer. Stacy Keach was perfect for the part as the tough, gruff and brutally efficient, hard-boiled private investigator. I just didn’t know there was a whole gang of different Mike Hammer’s bringing justice throughout the ages. Kolchak The Night Stalker very own Darren McGavin played him in a 50’s series and in a universe defying paradox, creator Mickey Spillane actually plays his own “baby” in the 1963 film The Girl Hunters. (I need to see this)

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) answer machine Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker)

A big thanks to John Charet over at Cinematic Coffee for putting me on to this exciting, intelligent and twisting, turning film noir with a devilish curveball in its tail. I dropped my film schedule and delved right into this Robert Aldrich directed Kiss Me Deadly. Here’s a few observations without no real spoils.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Robert Aldrich Cloris Leachman barefoot running road night film

Sports car loving lady magnet Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) can’t but help pull in the babes. Even when he’s hurtling along the motorway in the dead of night sat in his beautiful Jaguar XK120 coupe they just seem to find a way to fling themselves at him. Running in the middle of the black top road is the bare feet of a frightened, half naked girl, breathless and gasping for air. Mike’s really more concerned about his sweet ride but he half-heartedly picks up this strangely intriguing hitch-hiking girl.

Mike Hammer – “So you’re a fugitive from the laughing house?”.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Cloris Leachman Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker)

Little would he know that this young lady, Christina Bailey (Cloris Leachman) was going to cause him so much mayhem. He’d need all his detective skills, lucky his number one talent is information sniffing. His second talent? to use whatever weapon is to hand to bust out of a tricky situation, like……POPCORN! In your face stalker, that will teach you to tail this here Mike Hammer.

Tagline – “I don’t care what you do to me, Mike – just do it fast!”

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Velda (Maxine Cooper) Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker)

With his trusty secretary with benefits, the besotted Velda (Maxine Cooper) to help keep the flirty gumshoe grounded. They both go about putting the pieces to this head scratching puzzle together. Velda at home trawling through information and Mike hitting the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. Knocking on doors, smashing heads and getting in some sweet broad action! It’s all in day’s work for this hard as nails private investigator but will he be able to solve the case and could it be more than he can chew? Be sure to tune into this sublime thriller to find out.

Mike Hammer – “Give me a double bourbon and leave the bottle!”

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) gangster goons watching car

A Few Wolfy Observations

  • The opening scene looking down the highway through the Jags windscreen with the credits scrolling strangely backwards to the haunting sound of the young lady trying to catch her breath. It really sets the mood for this hard hitting noir.
  • The camera angles are slightly askew and off-center at times. Whether they are looking up or down, it’s framed scenes have a certain sinister atmosphere. There is also shots of shoes moving about doing dastardly things adding to the intrigue.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Robert Aldrich (Gaby Rodgers) dark corridor camera angles

  • Was it just me or did the young girl (Gaby Rodgers) with the short hair have a modern feel to her, she looked and felt like she was from newer era, a time traveller maybe hehe.
  • I’m a sucker for some vintage jazz footage in a nightclub, here we get lounge singer Mady Comfort singing a beautifully ditty as Mike hits the sour mash.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Robert Aldrich Mady Comfort jazz club singing scene

  • The LA settings are magnificent and I read the film is a real time capsule with most of the old buildings used as sets have now unfortunately all been demolished.
  • I liked the attention to detail in Mike’s apartment with his private investigating kit hanging up on the wall, binoculars, cameras etc. Plus that answer machine must of been way ahead of its time.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Film Noir Robert Aldrich heavies Jack Lambert and lazy eyed Jack Elam

  • Look out for resident heavies Jack Lambert and lazy eyed Jack Elam? With a special unseen move, Mike takes one of them out with a flash. What was it? An uppercut or a karate chop, hehe we will never know.
  • Now I need to track down I, The Jury (1953) which sounds like the first Mike Hammer adventure and My Gun Is Quick (1957) and Mickey Spillane starring The Girl Hunters (1963).

Thanks for dropping by the old wolfie lair. Not sure which film will be featured next, maybe poke your head in again sometime and see what’s tickled my film fancy. Oh and be sure to pop on over to John Charets Take On Kiss Me Deadly and say hello.

All the best and happy viewing…. Mikey Wolfenstein

PS – By the way as of writing Kiss Me Deadly was on YouTube

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17 thoughts on “Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Panting Barefoot Panic Starts The Hammer

  1. I was hoping you would eventually get round to this one. 🙂 I can tell how much you loved it.

    It is one of the best Noir films, and it is certainly one of the darkest and most violent. The plot is utterly crazy. The reverse credits in the opening really set the tone for the rest of the film. I didn’t know that Spillane played Hammer himself! Will have to try and see that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know right, I can imagine he must of been buzzing playing his own creation. Strange concept when you think about it!
      Good to see you noticed the reverse credits too. I was looking at them for a few moments thinking hey something looks odd here!! Then it dawned on me. What with the poor girl panting and Hammer not very sympathetic, it all added to a bonkers opening.
      Hammer is brutal, the head smashing against the wall and then throwing him down the staircase! Jeez
      It really has it all and you know what I really fancy watching it again very soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review Wolfie 🙂 Thank you also for your kind words about my review and my site in your take on the film 🙂 You are so nice 🙂 You are also correct in stating that the opening sets the entire tone for the film. This time, it is not only the song (Nat King Cole’s “Rather have the Blues”), but also those opening credits running backwards. Judging by this beginning alone, their is a foreboding sense that we are not in the land of Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe here. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicely written and I too was a fan of Stacy Keach’s take on Mike Hammer….Don Stroud was cool as hell as well playing Pat Chambers. I believe there was a remake of “I,The Jury” with Armand Assante. back in the 90s. Never saw it but know that it was made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. You know what I’ve just that second realised that Don Stroud was the bad guy in Coogan’s Bluff! …. I still have to see the original “I, The Jury” but I bet Armand Assante was hard as nails in the remake. I definitely want to try and watch them one day if I can. Thanks for letting me know and for the comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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