Mike Hammer (Meeker) finds a dazed and confused, half dressed and beaten up young woman hitchhiking. He doesn't get very far before his car is run off the road, and while he struggles to remain conscious, the girl is taken from the car and murdered. Hammer tells the police nothing, setting about finding those responsible.
There is arguably no more disturbing, disorientating title sequence in cinema than the opening of Robert Aldrichís Kiss Me Deadly: as the credits scroll backwards, a semi-naked woman sobs hysterically in the car of a man she has just pulled over in the dead of night, as a melancholy song plays on the radio.
This is a world of brutal pulp fiction - dames, low-life gangsters and, in Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, the most dislikeable private eye in fiction - made nightmarish by Cold War paranoia.
Noir taken to its most nihilistic extreme, with an atomic menace that guarantees a memorably explosive climax.