Monday, August 20, 2012

Kiss Me Deadly (1955): The Millie's new favorite movie ever.

How had I never seen this film? (aka how did my life have meaning?!)

I mean, I've heard of it. It's held in pretty high-regard around the classic film community. I had just never seen it. I picked it up from the library the other day because there was nothing else around and the cover was so random looking.

It was absolute perfection. And so was Ralph Meeker's face.

Honestly, I loved it. It was so brilliant and random and fascinating. I mean, there was a stinkin' MacGuffin that DID NOT turn out to be a MacGuffin. WHAT?! (I dub thee a reverse MacGuffin.)

Kiss Me Deadly has this eery quality in which it seems both representative of its time and also completely out of its era. It makes the film absolutely striking and unique.

But, the most wowzie kazam part of the entire very wowzie kazam film was Ralph Meeker's performance as Mike Hammer.

The man is perfect.

{Seriously, why have I never noticed Ralph Meeker before? I've seen him all over the place in supporting roles. And when I'm searching through my classic photos folder, I'm always stumbling over the photo of him that's saved for Deb's guest post on an Alfred Hitchcock Presents he starred in. I actually have always sort of subconsiously paired Deb and Ralph Meeker. Not that I'm creepy or anything.}

His performance was wunderbar. Although my excessive and vocal love for people like Vincent Price may make you think that I prefer over-actors (and I do love them), I so adore understated actors. Subtle actors like Dana Andrews or Joel McCrea have a hard time being appreciated and even Steve McQueen is looked on as a "movie star," instead of a brilliant -- yet quiet -- actor. All this random digression is just to say that Ralph Meeker gave a wonderful, understated performance.

Also, the man was the most cheerfully smiling "hard-boiled" detective since, well, ever. I mean, okay, some times the cheerful smiling was actually kind of evil (like when he was beating up innocent old men for fun), but most of the time he was just smiling for the fun of it.

^Note: I did not take multiple more screenshot examples of him smiling. And they are NOT saved in my computer.

Honestly, half the time it was like he was trying to compete with Dana Andrews in Laura to be the most adorable film noir detective ever. And then the next minute he looked highly amused while crushing an old guy's fingers in a drawer and Dana's achievement was saved.

Anyway, I am quite intrigued and shall be seeking out more of Mr. Meeker (I would have started Googling before the movie was over, but it was so bloody good [literally...heh heh] and I couldn't stop staring at his face the screen.

The other actors were also great and there are tons of recognizable character actors. So many of the performances felt atypical and random -- they fit well into the tone of the movie.

Because, really, nothing was typical about the movie. From the clearly awesome answering machine (I want it) to the fact that Mike Hammer hangs out in a black night club (it seems perfectly natural in the story, but it wasn't exactly a normal '50s movie thing) to the reverse MacGuffin (the sound effects accompanying it are mind-searingly unsettling).

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm the last person to see this film, but there is someone out there who has never seen it -- GO WATCH IT NOW. You will not regret your decision.

Well, this review certainly did not live up to the promise of brilliance that was in my brain as I pondered the movie. But, do I care? No. I'm off to watch The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown. Don't ask. Okay, it has Ralph Meeker in it, but that is totally not why I am going watch it.



Anonymous said...

Oh, I think I'm going to go watch this soon. THAT SMILE.

And, The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown is just all about Jane Russell being a perfect person. Considering the title and it's awesomeness being available on Netflix, I'm highly shocked that you HAVEN'T seen it yet.

Cheerio! Have a good night!

Millie said...

The smile has already been added to my creepy list of awesome smiles.

Well, I've had it in my instant queue for a year at least -- I just have never gotten around to it.

Why thank you, and you too!

p.s. I'll be responding to your email shortly! :-D

DKoren said...

Hee! Love this post! Of course I love this post! I love Ralph Meeker! (look at all those exclamation marks!) And I love that you associate him with me. Actually, for the longest time, I felt like I was the only one in the world who knew who he was.

And I'm not sure his Mike Hammer actually ever smiles... I think he smirks. A lot. He's a very smirky character. But Ralph Meeker has a lovely smile, genuine smile other times. I had a picture of him smiling from "The Naked Spur" that was my desktop picture for ages. Great smile.

I'll be looking forward to more posts on his movies, that's for sure! (As I said on my blog... go see Jeopardy! No. Really, go see Jeopardy, right this second!)

Grand Old Movies said...

Ralph Meeker an underrated actor, so good in everything he did. He was often cast as a villain in his films, so maybe that's not why he's better known or appreciated today. However, if you haven't seen it, catch him in the "Revenge" episode from Alfred Hitchcock Presents; on Youtube here:

Sarah said...

I watched this in class last year, I can't believe you hadn't seen it! It has Millie written all over it!!

I also loved Ralph's performance too, although I think you've written enough here to cover what I would have to say. ;)

omg I'm trying to comment and these captchas are IMPOSSIBLE. It'll be a miracle if you actually get this.

Millie said...

Deb: Yes, I always associate him with you and he shall always be yours. But, yeah. You don't mind if I stare at him every now and then, do you? ;-D

This is true. It is rather more smirky, but not quite as smirky as other smirks (I can't believe I am writing this sentence), so I just decided to classify it as a smile. hahaha

Well, my mum has been trying to get me to watch The Naked Spur for AGES (she has this strange adoration for Jimmy Stewart [YUCK!]). I never realized that it had Robert Ryan in it (awesome person). And now, Ralph Meeker? I HAVE TO SEE IT.

Yeah. I gotta go find a copy somewhere. Believe me, that is tops on my list!

Grand: Yeah, I don't understand why the villains are often less known -- they usually play THE most awesome characters!

I actually have seen that, I've seen him lots of random shows, I've just never paid attention to him (it's terrible)!

Sarah: I KNOW! I KNOW! It's like my life BEFORE I had seen Attack of the 50 Foot Woman -- there was no meaning! haha

Yeah. This post is rather embarrassingly focused on one subject, when the entire film was brilliant.

I'M SORRY! I really wish I could take them off without getting spammed to high heaven. They should really let followers or something not have to do them!

kate gabrielle said...

a) I need to watch this. It looks absolutely amazing!

b) I know you're not going to agree with me, but I think he resembles Cliff Robertson. THIS IS A PLUS.

c) I love your writing so much that it makes me never want to write anything ever again because my posts pale so much in comparison to yours. I'm serious.. every time I read one of your posts I'm reminded that your writing is just SO incredibly good. <3

Millie said...

A) You absolutely do need to watch it, BECAUSE IT IS CRAZY.

B)Hmmm, in the first photo he does rather resemble Cliff! And honestly, I do love Cliff! He's an awesome actor. He just also happens to play the exceedingly disturbing Big Kahuna! ;-D

C) Oh my gosh. First of all, thank you for the compliments! They certainly are wonderfully wonderful things to say. But, second of all, YOU ARE THE COOLEST BLOGGER EVER (and a much better/more lucid writer). DON'T EVER FORGET THAT.

kate gabrielle said...

So question: If Ralph Meeker played The Big Kahuna, would it be creepy? SO MUCH IS RIDING ON YOUR RESPONSE.

Hamlette said...

::Raises hand:: I'm that one person who hasn't seen KMD yet. You see, I've sworn that my first viewing of it will be with DKoren, and forces out of our control have kept us apart for 3 years, and yeah... one of these days, it'll all work out!

(Unless I lose my willpower and watch it without her.)

Millie said...

Kate: It would be SO CREEPY. The character himself is creepy. (Not as a creepy in the book, BUT STILL.)

HONESTLY. I don't what it will take to assure you of this. THE GIDGET WAS SIXTEEN.

The only non-creepy Big Kahuna ever was in the Gidget TV show (oddly enough, also played by an actor who travels in our circle of favorites [well, mine]:

Hamlette: Hahahaha. Oh dear. Well, you better get together with her soon! ;-D Maybe you can watch it while chatting online. I've done that with many a movie!


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