Perhaps the darkest of these three, although containing more comic elements than the other two, is Aldrich’s work, which grafts a true film noir to a sci-fiction ending, demonstrating, in some ways similar to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, that there is a natural symbiosis between the detective story and science fiction story-telling.
Yet Meeker somehow manages, in his Robert Mitchum-like underplaying of scenes and his dark humor, to make Hammer credible. And despite the bumbling stupidity of some of his investigation, at least he finds a thread which turns into a string—Velda suggesting it may become a rope—that the Federal force seem unable to uncover. And the dark, menacing figures which threaten him and everyone else whom he encounters are dangerous thugs, worthy of his thrashings. Indeed, the Los Angeles Aldrich shows us is an unfriendly as any world could be, even the landladies and clerks meeting him with contemptuous hostility. None of the individuals he interrogates will tell him anything in fear of being murdered—besides Christina, at least two others have died in “accidents,” and his own friend, perhaps the only openly joyful figure in the movie, the car mechanic Nick, is murdered for visiting another garage in an attempt to help Hammer.
His prediction comes true, as she pulls out a gun and shoots him, prying open the valise filled with nuclear matter which, when it meets the art, creates an atomic-like explosion.