Watch this and feel Hammer's pain. He's driven over a cliff, given a needle, knocked out by a blackjack, strapped to a bed and worked over by heavies and finally shot. Not since Rasputin has one man taken so much punishment and lived. Of course, the mad monk was finally thrown into a river with weights attached, one of the few kinds of violence not seen in this flashy, brutal, movie. (The highlight, or lowlight for the squeamish, is when a woman gets tortured almost to death with a pair of pliers.) Hammer's only mistake is to give a lift to a woman he finds running along the road. And some mistakes you never stop paying for. But then Hammer, played here by movie heavy Meeker, is not a character we are encouraged to like. Just as well because most of the sympathetic characters get killed in Aldrich's vision of an America run by con men, fascists and gangsters. Probably the biggest single influence on the French Wave, this is a thoroughly nasty gem.
Director: Robert Aldrich Cast: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker


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