It is well known that Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955) ends more or less apocalyptically—unique for film noir—but this isn’t so strange considering how many deaths precede the climax and that the movie’s hero, Mike Hammer, is capable of low-level sadism as well as other forms of naughtiness. We just wait and see what the world has to dish up after all the violence.
What Aldrich has dished up is a weird credit sequence, a tough-as-nails opening scene with Cloris Leachman running down the highway, interesting staging, and cool sex appeal. Looking both manly and unintimidating, Ralph Meeker is appropriately charmless yet not quite repelling as Hammer. How could a man who receives as many smooches from strange women as this guy does be repelling?