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
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 »
(at around 1h 10 mins) The singer is shown standing with both hands on the microphone stand. When Hammer is sitting at the bar, during the same song, the singer is shown in a reflection playing a piano and not singing, though she is still heard singing. See more »
Opening credits scroll backwards (down instead of up). See more »
The original ending was shown overseas in various countries (eg. Germany and the UK) when the film was originally released. It appears that the film was actually released in two different versions worldwide and the shortened ending was done specifically for the domestic USA theatrical release. In the UK, although there was a longer ending, the theatrical release was heavily cut by around 7 minutes for violence by the BBFC with the result that the film became nonsensical. For example, the entire scene of Cloris Leachman being tortured was excised and the film cuts from Hammer being knocked out to him waking up again doused with petrol so that you never know what happened to Leachman or the significance of the shoes worn by Albert Dekker. UK TV prints are uncut. See more »
Man, I saw this movie for the first time a few years ago and I still don't know what to think about it. Ralph Meeker as a fascistic Mike Hammer, a crazy hitch-hiker, an opera fan and a box that can destroy the world. I dunno.
From what I understand Alderitch (the director) hated Mikey Spillane's story (which was about a briefcase full of drugs or money or something else), thought Mike Hammer was an image of brutality and fascism and made a film that reflected it. He makes Hammer out to be some kind of sadist and makes the suitcase out be some kind of nuclear device. The movie turns from a simple detective story to some wierd-ass, sci-fi cold war parable.
It's sort of like the X-Files meets film-noir PI, or something to that effect.
All that being said, this is a GREAT film and is well worth watching by anyone who like apocalyptic film-noir (in fact, this may be the only film in that sub-genre). Anyone who is a fan of bizarre camera work, weird symbolism and a stranger storyline, should really check this out.
Observe the many bizarre inconsistencies (clocks that jump ahead and back, screams that don't jibe right with the soundtrack, camera angles that jump mysteriously) and keep in mind that these were INTENDED! When you get a feel for this film and start noticing what the director was attempting to do with this bizarre film I think that you will enjoy it even more. Truly a unique piece of film making.
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