Re: RARA-AVIS: Kiss Me Deadly

From: William Ahearn (
Date: 07 Dec 2007

--- "Mark R. Harris" <> wrote:

> Debates over quality are never satisfactorily
> resolved, and those are
> all fine films. Nonetheless, I will say that to my
> taste, which runs
> to modernist complexity more than to classicism,
> Kiss Me Deadly is the
> most brilliant film in the list (with Out of the
> Past running it very,
> very close).

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I agree. While I do have a more "arcane" and narrow definition of noir than most on this list, I appreciate those films that break the very constrictions that should define them. The Long Goodbye is one as is Chinatown, Breathless, Kiss Me, Deadly and numerous others. (Frankly, I can't see Casablanca on the list but that's another discussion.) Out of the Past is a noir in my book but one that acknowledges the cards in the genre deck and plays the game well. Every negative criticism of Kiss Me, Deadly recently on this list is true. Even so, the film lives in a place that makes those elements part of why it is so good. It never slips into camp and yet it is very self-conscious of its roots in masculine hard-boiled detective fiction. The truth of the film is that sinewy mentality, that gun-in-a-fist solution is no match for radiation and the future. Kiss Me, Deadly is the futile resistance of the apocalyptic future and The Long Goodbye is the surrendering to a disordered immoral future. Two faces on the sides of a rusty slug. That's why they're really good films. Not because they're noir but because they're not.


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