Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kiss Me Deadly. A

One film noir you won't ever forget is Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich's angry, pessimistic, and exhilarating masterwork. It's a movie that doesn't just live on, but burns in the memory, images and scenes sizzling with the power to haunt. Ralph Meeker stars as Mike Hammer, an investigator for divorce cases who picks up the wrong woman just before her death and proceeds on a spiraling descent into madness as he tries to find out more about her and her mysterious words: "remember me." There's a sprawling quality to Aldrich's film, a sinister tone where everything is out of control. People are running around trying to figure things out, but nothing is making sense. Aldrich's world is inhabited by unsympathetic characters who live in shadows, only for themselves, and only for this world. The one decent man in the story, a car mechanic friend of Mike's, gets killed. Mike is the classic mean anti-hero, a savage man whose fancy apartment and nice suits don't disguise his inner, warped self. His character is best summed in a scene in which he traps a man's hand in a drawer in order to get an important key. We see a closeup of Mike as he tortures the man, his eyes wide, his mouth curved in a mean little smile. In short, we can't feel bad for Hammer when the game is up and he's "lost" at sea.

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