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Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Pandora's Box — Written by lezard on 25.02.2020

The early 50's. America still sees itself in white. Mc Carthy's obsession for communism ruins thousands of lives. The cold war is The USA daily bread. The cinema, as always a mirror of the American life, is full of witch hunts, in films noirs (Pick Up on South Street, I Was a Communist for the FBI...) as well as horror movies (The Thing from Another World, Invasion of the Body Snatchers..). The threat clearly comes from the east and the cold.

Robert Aldrich, who has just directed two iconoclastic western movies (Vera Cruz and Bronco Apache) tackles the film noir and litterally dynamites the genre.

The opening scene is like a slap in the face.
Night. Two naked legs run on a road. The soundtrack is a breathing, between panting and orgasm. The credit list unfolds, backward. A woman, naked under her trench coat stands in the middle of the road. Mike Hammer manages to stop his car, in a screech of tyres. She hops in. A police road block. A woman, runaway from a psychiatric asylum is on the run. She takes Hammer's hand and pulls it between her bare legs. Silent deal. The road block once passed, the car is stopped by gangsters. Hammer knocked out. The woman tortured.
Kiss me deadly indeed! Only one motto: survive!
Hammer wakes up in hospital. The investigation starts and follows the classic steps: witnesses, suspects, false leads, threats, explosions, gunfights... Still, we know from the beginning it's not a classic movie. Everything seems new. The framings, the rythm give the movie a paranoid emergency. Numerous shots of stairways, corridors, distorting depth of field. We are in a sick America, a suspicious America. The characters are often alone in the shots whic conveys a suffocating atmosphere. The villains are mean, the vamp tempts but the hero isn't a hero anymore and our landmarks are no longer valid . Hammer isn't kind-hearted Bogart. He nearly pimps his secreatary, is way more cruel than the hoods and thrives on torturing the suspects.

The investigation comes to an end. Grande finale. Once more Pandora opens the box. Fire takes over and the sea seems to erase humanity.

A great hallucinating, exhilarating movie. A lesson in film directing.

Kiss me Deadly! Vavavoum!

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