Dennis suggests Kiss Me Deadly (in Mystery/Thriller) A quick ‘n’ dirty little independent thriller from 1955, this adaptation of one of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer detective mysteries was singled out by some art-hating, do-gooder, ‘please, won’t somebody think of the children!’ government commission as being ‘the number one menace to America’s youth’ (even more than EC Comics, MAD Magazine, or independent thought), so it’s got that going for it. Which is nice. Tough guy director Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen) made a tough guy movie all right, and about one of the detective genre’s toughest, manliest tough guys at that, but he put a decidedly un-glamorous, subversive spin on the material that made Spillane’s dick, well, the dick that he really is. Aldrich’s Hammer (played, in one of his only leads, by perennial minor tough guy character man Ralph Meeker [Paths of Glory]) is stripped of the phoney-baloney ‘code’ his print counterpart flaps his gums about and revealed to be what I’ve always thought him to be- a bullying, none-too-bright fascist. Mike is on the trail of this mysterious box that glows whenever anyone opens it (Tarantino makes homage to this plot point with the glowing suitcase in Pulp Fiction) and, boy does he crap everything up along the way. Meeker’s Hammer has his long-suffering secretary Velda setting up married men so he can blackmail them with sexy pictures, he delights in hurting people to get information, he fails to save, well, pretty much everyone that needs savin’, he’s doughy and sweaty (the cops interrogating him after one of his typically-boneheaded movies causes yet another person to get killed pointedly open a window to air out the room he’s just left), he gets knocked unconscious literally about seven times during the course of things, and, oh yeah, (SPOILER ALERT!!!)- he maybe destroys the world. Good work Mike.