As the two-fisted private detective Mike Hammer, Ralph Meeker chiseled in granite the image of the tough film noir protagonist in director Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly. Following a code of honor that puts him at odds with the police nearly as often as it does the bad guys, Hammer finds himself investigating the death of a beautiful hitchhiker whom he picked up on the middle of a deserted stretch of highway in the middle of the night. Although decried by some critics for it’s violence, Meeker’s dark portrayal of Hammer defined the idea of the noir protagonist as anti-hero and propelled Kiss Me Deadly to the position of one of the most important film noirs of all time.
Kiss Me Deadly will be getting a DVD and blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection on June 21. Although the film has been released on DVD before, Criterion is doing their usual great job in making this a release worth owning. In addition to a new high-definition restoration, the disc will also include an audio commentary by noir historians Alain Silver and James Ursini, excerpts from documentaries on screenwriter AI Bezzerides and Mike Hammer creator, novelist Mickey Spillane, a featurette on Kiss Me Deadly’s filming locations, a look at the film’s infamous altered ending and more.