Random Film of the Week: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

(thanks, criterioncollection!) 

kiss me deadlyIf you’ve never seen this Robert Aldrich-produced and directed film noir masterpiece, drop what you’re doing (well, unless you’re operating heavy machinery or in the middle of something where dropping anything will cause a major or minor disaster) and go look this one up. You’re guaranteed to say something like “What the…” at least two or three (or a dozen) times while watching this one, trust me. Mike Hammer is supposed to be a hard as nails private eye, but in this flick, he spends about a quarter of the film either getting chased, beaten up, shot at and otherwise maimed by assorted people who want him out of the picture he’s supposed to be starring in.

Deviating quite dramatically from the Mickey Spillane novel, this one’s a blazing hot mix of a downward spiral into a particularly dark hell for private eye Mike Hammer (masterfully played by Ralph Meeker), who has so many brushes with death here that the film ends up having a nasty comic edge thanks to the level of violence on display. No one here escapes unscathed, as everyone either wants Hammer dead or disabled (or both) and the few people on his side tend to drop like flies or come pretty close to it. The film also offers up a big twist at the end that turns it into a sort of wild sci-fi flick, but I won’t spoil that surprise other than to say it’s a big reason the film is so insanely brilliant…

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Random Film of the Week: Attack!

(thanks, Ray Acton!) 

attackAs far as war movies go, Robert Aldrich’s 1956 film, Attack! isn’t the predictable, lavishly produced jingoistic, rubber-stamped by the military rah-rah fest glorifying World War II as a unifying fight against the Axis where everyone on our side is perfectly portrayed as a sterling citizen soldier of upstanding moral fiber with one or two likable quirks. Instead, it’s a gripping slice of drama that pulls no punches as it details the breakdown in command of a whittled down unit of soldiers under the command of a cowardly captain (portrayed perfectly by Eddie Albert) and how another officer tries to bring a moral center back to the men before it’s too late.

According to a few sources, Aldrich didn’t get the usual assistance from the Department of Defense when making the film and in fact, had to make do with shooting the entire thing in just over a month using borrowed, bought or rented military gear including two tanks (that military purists will note were badly disguised as German Panzers). Despite this, it’s a powerful, must-see film that’s on par with Sam Fuller’s The Steel Helmet, or Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Full Metal Jacket as one of the best films in the genre.

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