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
Albert Dekker and Strother Martin appeared in Dekker's last screen appearance, The Wild Bunch (1969). See more »
At the beginning, Christina (Cloris Leachman's character) is shown running at the side of the highway, but the shots of only her feet show her running along the painted center line of the highway. See more »
Opening credits scroll backwards (down instead of up). See more »
In the truncated version only four shots of the exploding beach house can still be seen, while the original ending had sixteen shots (totaling over 80 seconds of additional screen time), showing the explosion from new different angles intercut with shots of: Mike and Velda dragging themselves on the beach towards the camera with the burning house behind them; Mike and Velda seen from behind, walking from the camera towards the surf, lightened by the flames projecting long shadows on the sand; and finally Mike and Velda huddled together, kneeling in the water and watching the house burn down as "The End" is superimposed on the screen. See more »
By 1950s standards this film is totally cutting edge. Just off the top of my head here is a list of things in this film that were VERY uncommon in the 50s: 1. African-Americans and non-Americans in several supporting roles 2. Main character has an answering machine (yes it's a giant wall-mounted reel-to-reel, but still..) 3. Location shooting (lots of exteriors and cool cars) 4. Risqué shots of bare legs, sexy actions by female characters, etc. It's implied the characters have a sex life (in most 1950s movies no one had sex EVER). 5. Violence - OK - there is no GRAPHIC violence, but lots of implied violence. Some of the camera angles are quite modern and unusual (punches into the camera, walking into camera to end scene, female character stepping over male characters outstretched legs, etc.) Censorship of EVERYTHING was the norm in the 50s. I don't know how this one made it past the censors but I'm glad it did - it's a quirky gem for film noir fans LK
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