Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

This pas weekend I saw Kiss of Death, loosely based on Mickey Spillane's novel of the same title. Mike Hammer rescues a young woman (Cloris Leachman) on a dark road only to have her get killed several hours later. Hammer, naturally, seeks revenge on the villains uncovering a plot about stolen uranium (or atomic energy or something) - a Cold War MacGuffin inserted by the filmmakers. The whole Hammer revenge thing starts of as a standard Spillane plot, but the filmmakers made some changes to the story (expected) and the character along the way.

Instead of being a New York tough guy, he's based in L.A. and wears nice suits and drives a fancy car. They also cut down on the violence and the womanizing (Velda was his girlfriend). The movie Hammer was much more of a film noir PI, getting the crap beat out of him several times, instead of the Spillane PI who beat the crap out of anyone in his way -- even women.

Aside from the sex and violence, the one main theme of Spillane's book his honor. Most stories start off with a friend of Hammer's getting killed and Hammer vowing revenge on the perpetrators. This Hammer seemed more interested in the case because Leachman's character was involved in "something big" rather than his failure to protect her.

That's not to say the movie was bad. It was a fair film noir with a Cold War twist. There's also a bit of controversy about the ending (detailed here by the Noir of the Week guys). I happened to catch the American version of the ending - in case you're wondering.