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Saturday Night Cinema: Kiss Me Deadly

4


Tonight's Saturday Night Cinema feature is the dazzling film noir masterpeice, Kiss Me Deadly. "Aldrich's annihilating masterpiece, one of the decade's key works."

Regarded by many critics as the ultimate film noir, and by many more as the finest movie adaptation of a book by Mickey Spillane, Kiss Me Deadly stars Ralph Meeker as Spillane's
anti-social private eye Mike Hammer. While driving down a lonely road
late one evening, Hammer picks up a beautiful blonde hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman),
dressed in nothing but a raincoat. At first, Hammer assumes that the
incoherent girl is an escaped lunatic; his mind is changed for him when
he and the girl are abducted by two thugs. The men torture the girl to
death as the semiconscious Hammer watches helplessly. He himself escapes
extermination when the murderers' car topples off a cliff and he is
thrown clear. Seeking vengeance, Hammer tries to discover the secret
behind the girl's murder. Among those who cross his path in the film's
tense, tingling 105 minutes are a slimy gangster (Paul Stewart), a
turncoat scientist (Albert Dekker), and the dead woman's sexy roommate (Gaby Rodgers). All clues lead to a mysterious box — the "Great Whatsit," as Hammer's secretary Velda (Maxine Cooper)
describes it. Both the box and Velda are stolen by the villains, at
which point Hammer discovers that the "Whatsit" contains radioactive
material of awesome powers. The apocalyptic climax is doubly devastating
because we're never quite certain if Hammer survives (he doesn't
narrate the story, as was the case in most Mike Hammer films and TV
shows). Director Robert Aldrich and scriptwriter Jack Moffit transcend Kiss Me Deadly's basic genre trappings to produce a one-of-a-kind melodrama for the nuclear age. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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