A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
A frightened woman is running barefoot on a highway, trying desperately to flag a car. After several cars pass her by, the woman sees another car approaching, and to make sure either the car stops, or, she's killed, she stands in the path of the oncoming car. Private Investigator Mike Hammer is the one at the wheel, and after almost hitting the woman, he tells her to get in. The woman's name is Christina Bailey. She is obviously on the run, being barefoot and wearing nothing but a trench coat, and the scent of fear. Whoever was after her eventually catches up with them. Christina has information they want, but dies while being questioned. The killers fake an accident by pushing Hammer's car off the road, but he survives, waking up in hospital two weeks later. As Mike starts to investigate Christina's death, he's told by the police to stay out of it, but, the hard-nosed private investigator proceeds anyways. Little did he know that Christina's secret would lead to death and destruction.Written by
Opening credits scroll backwards (down instead of up). See more »
The complete ending footage from Robert Aldrich's version has finally been recovered from the director's own personal print, donated to the Director's Guild of America after his death. This version shows quite clearly that Mike and Velda do not die in the fire. See more »
First-rate Mickey Spillane adaptation, easily the best film version of any of his novels that I've seen. Private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) investigates the reasons behind the death of a hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman in her film debut). It's a gritty, tough, violent noir with some good dialogue and morally grey (at best) characters. Meeker's the perfect Hammer. Albert Dekker has a small but important part. The rest of the cast is good except for Nick Dennis, who goes full Eli Wallach in his role as Hammer's mechanic friend. Robert Aldrich directs with style. The ending is pretty cool, but it's definitely one of those "love it or hate it" things. It's certainly memorable, which I think most of us can agree is part of what makes any film great.
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