Review: Kiss Me Deadly Blu-ray

Kiss Me Deadly Blu-raySTUDIO: Criterion | DIRECTOR: Robert Aldrich | CAST: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Maxine Cooper, Gaby Rodgers, Cloris Leachman, Wesley Addy
6/21/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.95, DVD $29.95
commentary, excerpts from two documentaries, video tribute, altered ending, more
NR | 106 min. | Crime drama | 1.66:1 widescreen | monaural

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Kiss Me Deadly movie scene

Ralph Meeker (r.) gets grilled in Kiss Me Deadly (1955).

Criterion Collection‘s release of Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly is without a doubt the finest-looking version of this monumental 1955 crime drama ever released to the home market. The movie was enthusiastically described by filmmaker Alex Cox (Searchers 2.0) in a supplemental appreciation as “the roughest, most apocalyptic, messed up film noir of them all.”

What’s most important here is that the film looks outstanding! From the famous reverse credit crawl set to Cloris Leachman‘s (American Cowslip) heavy breathing alongside Ralph Meeker’s hard-as-nails private eye Mike Hammer, to the equally well-known climax where the mysterious “whatsit” in the suitcase incinerates a beachfront cottage, the movie’s black-and-white cinematography by the great Ernest Laszlo has never looked inkier or more foreboding.

And the monaural soundtrack, taken from a 35mm optical track, according to the production notes, offers a crisp rendering of screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides’s abrasive dialog.

As for the bonus materials, well, with the exception of the excellent new commentary by film noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini (they’ve done over a dozen of them for noir films issued by Criterion, Warner and Fox), there isn’t enough supplemental stuff on filmmaker Aldrich (The Killing of Sister George).

Not that the 40-minute documentary on author Mickey Spillane, upon whose book the film is based, and the 10-minute quickie on Bezzerides aren’t engaging, but I wanted to see a little more about the vision and style of the man in the director’s chair.

But this disc will do as is. Really.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.