Kiss Me Deadly (1955): Pandora and Prometheus in Robert Aldrich's cinematic subversion of Spillane

James, P. (2013). Kiss Me Deadly (1955): Pandora and Prometheus in Robert Aldrich's cinematic subversion of Spillane. In: Cyrino, Monica S. ed. Screening Love and Sex in the Ancient World. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 25–38.




This dynamic collection of original essays by leading international film scholars and classicists addresses the provocative representation of sexuality in the ancient world on screen. Throughout the history of cinema, filmmakers have returned to the history, mythology, and literature of Greek and Roman antiquity as the ideal site for narratives of erotic adventure and displays of sexual excess. A critical reader on the creative approaches used to screen sexuality in classical settings, contributors utilize case studies from films such as Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Angels & Insects (1995), and Alexander (2004) as well as the television series Rome (2005-07) and Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010). Featuring contributors such as Antony Augoustakis, Alison Futrell, Paula James, and Corinne Pache, the essays in this collection apply a variety of theoretical perspectives to the role of love and sexuality in screening the ancient world. My chapter looks at the resonances of the myth of Pandora and Prometheus in a 1955 Aldrich film Kiss Me Deadly and suggests that the cinematic narrative helps us to re-think the blurred identities of baneful women and heroic men keeping the dialogue fresh between past and present.

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