Rogues In Saratoga Springs: World Fantasy 2015

Rogues In Saratoga Springs: World Fantasy 2015

I'll be on the road again this week and attending World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs NY, November 5th-8th. I'll be on a panel opening night--Thursday, November 5th at 4pm. Here is a description along with the panel participants from WFC's website:

The Rogue
Assassins, thieves, rogues of all stripes, it seems that no quest party™ is complete without a wisecracking roguish sidekick. But is there more to the Rogue than that? 
Ellen Kushner (mod.), Alistair Kimble, Cinda Williams Chima, James Alan Gardner, Ryk E. Spoor

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Moving Picture Monday: Kiss Me Deadly

I like to discuss film almost as much as I enjoy watching them. I (big shock) particularly enjoy classic movies, but future post won't be limited to old silent pictures and talkies.  ;) 

This is from Criterion's website:

Kiss Me Deadly

  • 1955
  • 106 minutes
  • Black and White 
  • "In this atomic adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel, directed by Robert Aldrich, the good manners of the 1950s are blown to smithereens. Ralph Meeker stars as snarling private dick Mike Hammer, whose decision one dark, lonely night to pick up a hitchhiking woman sends him down some terrifying byways. Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema."

    I re-watched Kiss Me Deadly last night. The film was based on the Mickey Spillane novel of the same name, only Spillane's is Kiss Me, Deadly. The comma is an important subtraction as it changes the meaning of the title. While watching an interview with Mickey Spillane, this was something that bothered him quite a bit (as it would any writer who had that comma in there for a reason). I believe that even when he first turned in the book, the comma was taken out by an editor.

    And as mentioned in Criterion's description, the movie (unlike the novel) is more about Cold War paranoia and hysteria. The movie can also be classified as science fiction, based on the addition of a mostly unexplained nuclear device that doubles as a type of Pandora's Box.

    I highly recommend picking up this Criterion release, which also includes some nice extras, including an alternate ending.  Criterion does an outstanding job on the transfers and sound, so I won't even go into that here. 

    Why do I love this movie? Well, I'm a big fan of classic detective and noir films.  This one goes beyond the familiar detective tropes. I particularly enjoy Ralph Meeker's take on Mike Hammer.

    Two scenes in particular I'll point out: 

    Hammer is being followed by a thug. The thug has a switchblade which Hammer hears being flicked open. He spins and disarms the thug and repeatedly pounds the man into a wall. Hammer walks away, but the thug gets up and Hammer tosses him down a long, long flight of stairs. Here is the best part:  Hammer watches the man roll down the steps with great interest and has the beginnings of a smile on his face. I love it. 

    Next:  He goes to a doctor's office looking for information. He pays the doctor, but being greedy, the doctor wants more. As the doctor goes to put an item Hammer wants in his desk drawer, Hammer slams the doctor's hand in the drawer, making him squeal. Hammer grins as he inflicts pain on the greedy doctor.

    There are more examples of this type of behavior, and despite his sadistic tendencies, I love the way Hammer is portrayed in this film. He's a badass in the novels, but in this film, it's another level. 

    It's a very bold movie for 1955. I think it holds up well today and is worth your time if you're at all interested in noir or private investigator films. Also, notice how people dress in this movie. Even though he can be quite the thug himself, Hammer knows how to dress himself.