Kiss Me Deadly

  • Directors: Robert Aldrich
  • Producers: Robert Aldrich
  • Writers: Story, Mickey Spillane, Screenplay, A I Bezzerides
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller
  • Actors: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Cloris Leachman

Ralph Meeker plays Mike Hammer, a tough Los Angeles private eye who is almost as brutal and corrupt as the crooks he chases. Mike, and his assistant/secretary/lover, Velda(Maxine Cooper), usually work on “penny-ante divorce cases”.

One evening on a lonely country road, Hammer gives a ride to Christina (Cloris Leachman), an attractive hitchhiker wearing nothing but a trench coat. She has escaped from a nearby mental institution. Thugs waylay them and force his car to crash. Hammer regains consciousness in some unknown location where he hears Christina screaming and being tortured to death. Hammer next awakens in a hospital with Velda by his bedside. He decides to pursue the case, both for vengeance and because, “She (Christina) must be connected with something big” behind it all.

The twisting plot takes Hammer to the apartment of Lily Carver (Gaby Rodgers), a sexy, waif-like blond who is posing as Christina’s ex-room mate. Lily tells Hammer she has gone into hiding and asks Hammer to protect her. It turns out that she is after a mysterious box that, she believes, has contents worth a fortune.

“The great whatsit”, as Velda calls it, at the center of Hammer’s quest is a small, mysterious valise that is hot to the touch and contains a dangerous, shining substance. It comes to represent the 1950s Cold War fear and nuclear paranoia about the atomic bomb that permeated American culture.

The original American release of the film shows Hammer and Velda escaping from the burning house at the end, running into the ocean as the words “The End” come over them on the screen. Sometime after its first release, the ending was crudely altered on the film’s original negative, removing over a minute’s worth of shots where Hammer and Velda escape and superimposing the words “The End” over the burning house. This implied that Hammer and Velda perished in the atomic blaze, and was often interpreted to represent the apocalypse. In 1997, the original conclusion was restored. The DVD release has the correct original ending, and offers the now-discredited truncated ending as an extra. The movie is described as “the definitive, apocalyptic, nihilistic, science-fiction film noir of all time – at the close of the classic noir period.”[2]

In Cold Blood

  • Directors: Richard Brooks
  • Producers: Richard Brooks
  • Writers: Truman Capote, Richard Brooks
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, History
  • Actors: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart

Perry Smith (Robert Blake) and “Dick” Hickock (Scott Wilson) concoct a plan to invade the home of the Clutter family, as Mr. Clutter supposedly keeps a large supply of cash on-hand in a safe. While the two criminals felt that their plan for the robbery was sound, it quickly unravels, resulting in the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Clutter, as well as two of their teenage children. The bodies of the Clutter family are discovered the next day, and a police investigation is immediately launched.

As the investigation builds, the two wanted men continue to elude law enforcement but are eventually arrested. The police interrogate the two men and confront them with evidence, such as a bloody footprint matching the boots worn by one of the men, but are slowed by Smith’s refusal to provide answers. The police claim that another mistake made by the men is that they left a witness. Finally, Hickock confesses and states that he does not want to be executed for the crime.

Smith and Hickock are found guilty of the crime and sentenced to be hanged. A representation of their final moments and execution is shown at the conclusion of the film.