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]

The Dirty Dozen

  • Directors: Robert Aldrich
  • Producers: Kenneth Hyman
  • Writers: Novel, E M Nathanson, Screenplay, Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, George Kennedy, Trini Lopez, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Robert Webber

In England, in the spring of 1944, Allied forces are preparing for the D-Day invasion. Among them are Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin), an OSS officer; his commander, Regular Army Major General Worden (Ernest Borgnine), and his former commander Colonel Everett Dasher Breed (Robert Ryan). Early in the film the personalities of the three men are shown to clash and the character of the individualistic Reisman and the domineering Breed is established.

Major Reisman is assigned an unusual and top-secret pre-invasion mission: take twelve American soldiers convicted of capital offenses, either serving sentences of hard labor or awaiting execution, and whip them into a unit capable of carrying out the task. The plan, as described, is to infiltrate a château near Rennes, in Brittany, used as a retreat for senior Wehrmacht officers, on the eve of the invasion. Without having complete intelligence as to the identity of the guests, it was felt that the elimination of officers in the German high command or senior staff could cripple or confuse the German military’s ability to respond at the time of crisis. It is quickly established that both Reisman and the generals with whom he frequently clashes consider the mission to be a suicidal long shot.

The film concludes in a hospital room where Sgt Bowren on crutches is shown visiting Reisman and Wladislaw who are bedridden with broken bones and other serious wounds received in the battle. They are visited by the general officers, their former tormentors who sent them on this suicide mission who now have nothing but smiles and praise for the survivors. Wladislaw is heard to mutter “Oh boy… killing generals could get to be a habit with me”.

Paths of Glory

  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producers: James B Harris
  • Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson, Calder Willingham, Story, Humphrey Cobb
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, War
  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready

Paths of Glory is based loosely on the true story of four French soldiers, under General GГ©raud RГ©veilhac, executed for mutiny during World War I; their families sued, and while the executions were ruled unfair, two of the families received one franc each, while the others received nothing.

The film begins with a voiceover describing the trench warfare situation of World War I up to 1916; immediately following this is a scene in which General George Broulard (Adolphe Menjou) of the French General Staff asks his subordinate, General Mireau (George Macready), to send his division on a suicidal mission to take a well-defended German position called the “Anthill.” Mireau initially advises against the attack, citing the low probability of success and the danger to his beloved soldiers, but when General Broulard mentions the possibility of a promotion, Mireau quickly convinces himself the attack will succeed.

Mireau proceeds to walk through the trenches, addressing his men. He asks several soldiers (some of whom later become major characters) the question, “Ready to kill more Germans?” He throws one soldier out of the regiment for showing signs of shell shock, which Mireau denies exists, blaming the soldier’s behavior on cowardice. Mireau leaves the detailed planning of the attack to the 701’s RГ©giment Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) despite Dax’s protests that the only result of the attack will be to weaken the French army with heavy losses for no benefit. Mireau does not relent.

After the execution, some of Dax’s soldiers are in a tavern, carousing, when the proprietor brings a young, captured German woman on stage and makes her sing the German folk song “The Faithful Hussar.” The hardened troops begin to howl and whistle wolfishly at her, but, touched by her song, they end up humming along, some openly weeping. Dax overhears this scene from outside. A sergeant appears with word that the regiment has been ordered to return to the front, but Dax tells him to give the men a few minutes more.