Kiss Me Deadly

Though it didn't reach its audience at the time, this top-notch piece of film noir has seen its reputation do nothing but improve over the years since its release in 1955. A major inspiration for the French New Wave movement, its influence is still prevalent, as anyone who's seen films with glowing suitcases can attest. Maybe it was just too tough for its time. A Robert Aldrich-directed adaptation of a Mickey Spillane novel, Kiss Me Deadly stars Ralph Meeker as a barely likable Mike Hammer. After picking up a trenchcoat-clad woman running barefoot down the highway, he finds himself plunged into a dark and dangerous world in which nearly everything is worse than it seems. That's the case in most noir films, of course, but this one plays as more noir than most: All the elements, from the tougher-than-nails characters to the stark photography to the harsh environment, combine in this classic, reissued in a new collector's edition complete with the original theatrical trailer and two subtly but substantially different endings. Kiss Me Deadly is a terrific film, but after seeing it, you may want to bathe, and may never trust anyone again.

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