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.
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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 an on-coming 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 PI proceeds anyways. Little did he know that Christina's secret would lead to death and destruction. Written by
Although Victor Saville is credited as Executive Producer and director Robert Aldrich is credited only as producer, in reality Aldrich had it written into his contract that he had complete control over the picture and it would be made the way he wanted it, specifically stipulating that his decisions could not be overruled by any studio representative. See more »
When Hammer is talking to Evello in Evello's mansion, the telephone receiver in the background switches position between shots. See more »
This late entry into the film noir genre has some harsh and memorable scenes and an ending unlike any other film noir. Of course, most of those weren't made during the A-Bomb scares of the mid 1950s, as this was.
The movie features a tough, no-nonsense Mike Hammer-like private eye, played well by Ralph Meeker, whose tough-guy dialog is a little dated but still fun to hear. This is one of those noirs in which everyone is a tough-talking, tough-acting mug and one never knows who to trust. Except for Cloris Leachman, who is only in the first quick (but haunting) opening scene, the females in here are unfamiliar actresses but people with interesting faces and personalities.
That opening with Leachman is a real attention-grabber and is one of the best starts I've ever seen in a crime movie. It's very creepy, as is the unique ending. I also appreciated the cinematography in here a lot more once the DVD was issued.
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