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Kiss Me Deadly, Robert Aldrich (1955)

Sentiment-free, nuclear-paranoia-era noir. It’s no golden jewel-encrusted falcon everyone’s after; much less justice; the object of desire here is a glowing box of radioactivity which everyone wants and which kills everyone who gets it. But it’s not really the plot that’s of interest here so much as the creepy, meanspirited atmosphere: the great Ernest Laszlo makes L.A. looks as greasy and dark as Pat Riley’s hair. The male characters are unctuous and sly, as likely to use sodium pentathol or mystery grips as they are a solid honest punch in the kisser to get what they want. And the women! Desperate wild-eyed chest-heaving nymphos who kiss and kill in the same motion! Lots of fun.

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