Sunday, June 5, 2011

Paperback 421: Kiss Me, Deadly / Mickey Spillane (Signet 1000)

Paperback 421: Signet 1000 (1st ptg, 1953)

Title: Kiss Me, Deadly
Author: Mickey Spillane
Cover artist: James Meese

Yours for: $13


Best things about this cover:
  • "OK, you can see my left boob, but it's gonna cost you. *Really* cost you..."
  • What room are they supposed to be in? The kitchen? An office? Somebody's workshop? I'm kind of mesmerized by the miniature barn-like structure directly over the guy's head. And by the crimson carpet, of course.
  • I have a huge crush on Spillane's writing. Lush and emotive and tornadic and fearless. I haven't read this one, though—just seen the (insane, campy) movie. It is one of the great Bad movies of all time.


Best things about this back cover:
  • In case you didn't know, in the middle of the last century, Spillane was the best-selling author since Moses. Infuriated critics, who still don't know what to do with him, frankly. Easy to love Hammett and Chandler. Hard to love the (gun-toting, dame-ogling) bull in the china shop.
  • If you've never read Spillane, I recommend "One Lonely Night" most of all. It develops the idea that Hammer is "evil for the good." It also features a very memorable spanking scene.

Page 123~
[The ropes] were wet and slippery with my own blood. My fingernails broke tugging at them, but it was the blood that did it. I felt one come free, the next one and my hand was loose. It only took a few minutes longer to get the other one off and my feet off the end of the bed and I was standing up with my heart trying to pound the shock away and the pain back in place.

P.S. blog traffic here is up but comments seem down. I would be happier if things were the other way around, actually. Of course I'd be happiest if traffic *and* comments were up. So feel free to chime in, and spread the word.

P.P.S. I am toying around with focusing my Crime Fiction course (this fall) on the Vietnam War era (roughly '60-'75). Books and movies don't have to have anything specifically to do with the war. Recommendations are welcome. Also, this summer I will be watching my way through Every Crime Movie (VERY broadly defined) in that period (though I may not make it out of 1961, who knows). I'll be letting you know what's on tap every week or so. So far I've watched "Portrait in Black" (1960) (Anthony Quinn, Lana Turner; horrible) and "Never Let Go" (1960) (Peter Sellers; amazing). "Never Let Go" was a revelation, with Peter Sellers as a sadistic garage owner at the center of a stolen car ring. Definitely makes the "Recommended" list. I'm halfway through "Le Trou" (1960), a prison escape movie that (so far) is wonderful. Also halfway through "The Girl in Lovers' Lane" (1960), which I'm watching as an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," so that should give you some idea how good it is...

In the crime fiction queue for this week: "Beatniks" (1960) and "Seven Thieves" (1960). Looks like "Beatniks" also got the "MST3K" treatment, so ... that should be fun.

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Citizen Dain said...

I just bought this edition of this book on the sidewalk in New York for 2 bucks a couple of a weeks ago. It ended up in one of the many stacks of paperbacks I have in my room. Hopefully I will get to it this summer.

borky said...

I'm happy to see your traffic's up, Rexie, but from my point of view it's more useful to know you prefer more comments.

Usually when one contributes, you do so on the basis of what interests - or tickles - you yourself, but you can never be sure how welcome or otherwise your own contributions are.

I always make a point of praising blogs - such as your own - which I sincerely esteem, but for all I know I'm viewed as a tedious insincere creep.

My point being, in my case it doesn't really matter to me how others take my contributions so long as I think their sincere, funny, authentic - whatever! - but I do know others can lose their enthusiasm if they allow themselves to become self conscious, all of which of course also applies to bloggers like yourself.

Of course, the real magic where you're concerned is your selections - I mean, I find all your observations worth reading, and most of them very funny, but even you must admit some of the books you've put up here have allowed you to hit scales of hilarity completely off the Richter scale of Insane!

borky said...

The grey hair of the cover lady's presumably intended to convey to us she's getting on a bit, and that together with the look of desperation on her face suggests to me our hero's rather ungallantly saying, "There's no need to pull your dressing gown open wider - I can already see your...oh, sorry, love, they're your knees!" to which she responds, "Listen up, buddy - either you start banging me, or I start banging this!"

Raoul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raoul said...

In The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide for Mystery Science Theater 3000, the cast said The Girl in Lovers Lane was an episode they really hated -- not because it was bad (it was) but because of the arbitrariness of the depressing ending, which seemed to work against everyone's character development. They certainly weren't wrong about that.

Beatniks, on the other hand, is a lot of fun -- at least for the viewers.

Lisa in Oz said...

I first read Spillane when I was about 15 and firmly entrenched in my Retro Detective Novels phase. Hammett's prose and plot handling can't be beaten, but Spillane packs a fabulous visceral punch.

Also, I'm mildly obsessed with figuring out where the hell they are on that cover. I see stairs...a spigot-y thing on the left...the miniature barn-like doohicky...and the wood paneled counter that seems oddly short. A Western themed bar that caters to midgets?

The Shrink said...

I think this is the first time I've ever known anyone to agree with me about the film version of Kiss Me, Deadly. There's a weird reverence for it as a (if not THE) Noir classic, when really it's just entertainingly bonkers.

One assumes the lady with the gun is just flapping her robe a bit trying to cool down, it looks pretty hot in the... Basement bar, I'm going to say (is that a bottle to her right?), even a bit smokey. Although actually, the smoke seems to be rising from Mike on the floor there.

Rex Parker said...

"KMD" (film) made my students laugh out loud, multiple times, at places that I'm pretty sure weren't supposed to be funny. My fav. part of that film is the reel-to-reel answering machine. And the "From Here To Eternity In Hell" ending, of course.

As for where they are on the cover of this book, I think the same setting was used for this (amazing) cover: Lesbian Starlet (1964).

Larry said...

I think Thomas Crown Affair (the original with Steve McQueen) is evocative of the period. Split screen, playboy, hip music without resorting to rock all make it 60s cool. Experiment in Terror with Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, Ross whats his name, is a noir film but which puts into play the more realistic less restrictive 60s in place of the usual 50s semi-camp.

Brandyce said...

You'll enjoy Beatniks. To quote Joel, "If those guys are beatniks my Mom's a beatnik. And she's not."

Karla B said...

The Beatniks is easily one of my top fave MST3K episodes. Peter Breck's overacting ("I killed that fat barkeep!" "I'm gonna MOON YOU, MAN!") is truly a sight to behold. And it's real hard to not tell annoying people to "Shut up, Iris."

Plus the pre-movie short is an old episode of General Hospital with a cranky Roy Thinnes, so it's all-around win.

I haven't read any Spillane yet, but I'm going to have to add it to the TBR.

My rec for your course is "The Killers" with Lee Marvin. Crazy movie, love it.

Deb said...

Interestingly, the movie's title was KISS ME DEADLY (no comma), which changes the meaning somewhat.

THE GIRL IN LOVER'S LANE is hard to watch even as an MST3K. It looks like it was made for about a buck-fifty-nine and as if the cast got their lines for the day about a minute before the cameras started rolling.

As for Vietnam era crime novels, don't forget John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books.

Deb said...

BTW, I don't know if Todd Mason comments here (I think I've seen him make a comment or two on previous posts), but his knowledge of crime novels and movies is encyclopedic, so he could certainly make some suggestions for your course.

Marla said...

For the Crime Fiction class I would recommend some Travis McGee books by John D. McDonald. I know you don't love him, but I do. They do capture an interesting flavor of the era.

There's a VERY odd little book called Sight Unseen, set in London, about a groovy artist, that's also a fascinating late 60s piece. Maybe more of a mystery than a crime book, though...

Sean Brodrick said...

For the record, I love the movie version of "Kiss Me, Deadly", because the hero is NOT a nice guy. He's not even a rogue with a heart of gold. He's the kind of sleazy bully who is probably closer to the mark when it comes to what real private detectives were back then, than the sanitized versions we see in other movies. But he is likeable, and he's good enough to feel bad about using his friends. It's this balancing act in crafting characters that makes Spillane so good.
Oh, and I give this the comment of the day: "Listen up, buddy - either you start banging me, or I start banging this!" You made me laugh out loud, Borky.
I didn't know you wanted more comments, Rex. I am a bit intimidated by how smart some of your other commentators are. But, since I like comments on my blog, I should have figured it out. I'll try to comment on more of your great offerings.

warren said...

'If you've never read Spillane, I recommend "One Lonely Night" most of all. It develops the idea that Hammer is "evil for the good."'

1. I actually got the ebook of 'One Lonely Night' based on this recommend, and wow, were you ever right. Bloody good book.

2. It doesn't just develop the idea of Hammer being evil for good; he actually describes himself in that way in the text.

So in addition to this blog being a great clearinghouse of questionable cover art, it's a good resource for new literary excursions...

Rex Parker said...

Well that's good news. Glad you enjoyed it. ~RP

cwogle said...

Perhaps the reason your comment-to-traffic ratio is skewed is because some of your readers (like me) use an aggregator like Pulse on their phone. It's really easy to keep up with your blog but it won't let me comment or even read other people's comments. Grrr. It's a shame because I love the snarky comments as much as your snarky text. Er...almost as much, I mean. Yeah, that's it.