This is a brilliantly sinister film noir based on a novel by Micky Spillane. It was described at the time as a “film designed to ruin young viewers“. Although I am not young, I felt rather damaged at the end.
Ralph Meeker plays detective Mike Hammer (not quite your Detective Dirk Gently) who chances upon a mysterious and distressed female hitchhiker running down the road at night clothed only in a trench coat. But running from what or who? Nat King Cole soothed out of the car speakers (I’d Rather Have the Blues) as they drove off. It does not end well for her. She does however manage to post a letter and swallow a key.
Hammer knows something important is going down after he gets beaten up by shady characters . When the Interstate Crime Commission gets involved, he boldy states “she must be connected with something big”. Assisted by Velda, his over-qualified secretary / lover who is also an excellent dancer, he slowly and brutally begins to uncover the truth. I did not think it was fair that his spirited mechanic had to die however I thought putting the gangsters in swimming trunks was an inventive move by the director. Hammer’s high-tech, wall-mounted telephone answering machine was also cleverly featured a few times. I give this relentlessly violent film 4 stars (mainly for the telephone answering machine).
If you wish to explore the destructive nature of the human species, this film is for you.
Dark regards, Betty-Rose
Running trench coat woman
Don’t kiss this one Mike
The high-tech wall-mounted telephone answering machine