I owned the regular DVD of this film for a while and then it somehow disappeared and it took me a while to get this stunning Blu-ray presentation.
Ralph Meeker is brilliant as Mike Hammer and he plays him as brutish and stupid.
Hammer gets involved with a young lady he picks up in the middle of the night running down a road and this leads him into a web of crime much deeper than anyone could ever know.
Wesley Addy is just as brilliant as Lt. Pat Murphey who tries to stop Mike from getting involved. Everyone Hammer talks to either ends up dead or are so scared they refuse to cooperate.
The very dark road Hammer goes down leads him to a man named Carl Evello (Paul Stewart) and then to the very mysterious Dr. Soberin (Albert Dekker). All the while Hammer is also toting around a young woman he calls Friday (Marion Carr) who turns out to be more than she appears. She is the key to the "great whatsit" that Hammer seeks.
Hammer's secretary Velda is played by Maxine Cooper and she is an eye opener. She is kidnapped after all else fails to stop Hammer, and this simple action triggers the end of everything.
Friday kills Soberin and like the total idiot she is dooms all to a horrible death. I won't say more just in case you have never seen this film.
Needless to say this is a standout film that to me anyway, is required viewing. The Criterion presentation is remarkable. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
The cast is rounded out by Jack Elam, Marjorie Bennett, Mort Marshall, Strother Martin, James Seay, Bob Cornthwaite, Cloris Leachman and Gaby Rodgers.