Top critical review
Not the best Mike Hammer story I've seen...
on August 14, 2014
Of all the Mike Hammer entries this one is one of the most uneven. Perhaps it is because of the outstanding excellence of some of the other classic productions that this one just doesn't shine. Ralph Meeker seems a cardboard cutout of the usual Mike Hammers.
The first damsel in distress has escaped an institution ( where it turns out she had been parked by the authorities " for her own protection") dressed only in a trench coat without even shoes. She manages to stop Mike by standing in the middle of the road in a stop for me or kill me ploy. Both subsequently are captured by the bad guys. She dies while being " questioned " by the bad guys , and they push her and Mike off a cliff and wreck his first neat car , a Jaguar. Miraculously he survives , and now he has a mystery to solve. He hooks up with another girl who seems to be the other girls roommate and pursues the trail. The cops tell him to butt out , and then revoke his P.I. license. After briefly tooling about in an MG , Mike is given a ( what I think is a ) 1953 Corvette as a bribe to butt out by the bad guys. Mike suspects the car is booby trapped and we get a nice look at the engine of the time , an inline OHV 6 cylinder as they search for what turns out to be two bombs.
The best characters are the group of ( now classic ) bad guys , including The Face , Jack Elam. Eventually Mike finds the holy grail that all are seeking , which turns out to be a box containing radioactive material. Radioactivity was fairly new at the time
and when the box is opened a blinding laser like light is emitted. In the final scene Mike rescues his secretary Velda ( no not Velma!) , as the women that pretended to be the roommate ( who was also dead long ago ) can't resist opening the Pandoras'
box containing the radioactive substance. She is consumed in the subsequent fire , allegedly caused by the radioactivity.
A curiosity is that the same screams of the original damsel in distress are reused in the final scene where the "roommate"
If this description sound dis-jointed , well that's a reflection of the movie itself. All Mike Hammer stories are worth a look , it is just that , compared to the others , this one is lacking in my opinion. Still it is worth a look for Mike Hammer / Mickey Spillane fans , and is of course , in Glorious Black & White!