Director: Robert Aldrich
One of film noir's darkest nightmares, this grim adaptation of one of Mickey Spillane's "Mike Hammer" thrillers has as much to do with the paranoiac sci-fi films of the fifties as it does with the two-fisted universe of the private eye. Meeker is Hammer, a sleazy gumshoe on the trail of "the great whatsit" (actually a box filled with radioactive substance), who's willing to beat, berate, and otherwise abuse anyone standing in his way. Directed with stunning artistry (and tongue in cheek) by Robert Aldrich, the film has weathered critical distaste to emerge as a cult classic, a brutal and often very funny critique of Spillane's macho sensibility and the nuclear paranoia of fifties America.
Years ahead of its time, a major influence on French New Wave directors, and one of Aldrich's best films. Leachman's film debut. Some video versions have 82 seconds of additional footage which completely changes the finale.
My Rating: ***1/2