Film (1955). Parklane. Produced and directed by Robert Aldrich. Written by A I Bezzerides, based remotely on Kiss Me, Deadly (1952) by Mickey Spillane. Cast includes Maxine Cooper, Albert Dekker, Chloris Leachman, Ralph Meeker, Gaby Rogers and Paul Stewart. 105 minutes. Black and white.
This extraordinary film noir, now recognized as one of the greatest of its period, substitutes a boxful of radioactivity – a kind of surrogate atom bomb – for the packet of narcotics everyone seeks control of in Spillane's original. In a sadly tarnished Los Angeles (see California), the lethal Pandora's Box takes on a glamour which literally shines out – destroying the world – at the apocalyptic climax. Painful and furious, Kiss Me Deadly gives an extraordinarily abrasive quality to the stereotypes of the private-eye genre, but it is the box itself that dominates the movie, growing from an apparent McGuffin into an icon of a menacing future, the object of worship in an impoverished present which, by implication, yearns for the hard white light that abolishes all shadows. [PN]
see also: Cinema.
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