Condemned on its release as harmful to minors, Robert Aldrich’s late contribution to the B-noir tradition, by way of Mickey Spillane, couldn’t quite find its audience in 1955. But it now stands as a crucial influence on what would become the French new wave, an irresistibly seedy trip through the Los Angeles underworld, and a valuable artifact of Cold War anxiety. After a mysterious woman (debutante actress Cloris Leachman) flags down Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) on a highway and is subsequently murdered, the downmarket private dick reads this chance encounter as his ticket to the big time, and he sniffs out a trail of intrigue through many a gutter and back alley to an unbelievable secret. Cold, calculating, even downright nasty, the antihero Hammer would be focus-grouped right out of existence if he were screenwritten today. And with its delectable period detail and the magnificent compositions and rich depth of field achieved by Aldrich and his cinematographer, Ernest Laszlo, ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ demands to be seen on the big screen. Go now.