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Author Topic: I, The Jury (1953)  (Read 4124 times)
cigar joe
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« on: February 10, 2012, 10:11:13 PM »

Director: Harry Essex, Director of Photography John Alton, Writers: Harry Essex, Mickey Spillane (novel) Stars: Biff Elliot, Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, Tani Guthrie, Dran Hamilton, (3 Stooger) Joe Besser, and Noir regular Elisha Cook Jr.



I, The Jury became the first of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Detective series to be made into a movie. Hammer is a no holds barred bull in a china shop type of PI. Spillane wrote Mike Hammer starting with the first 1947 novel "I, the Jury" as a traditional Pulp/Noir Detective but he pushed the bubble with the lid off/over the top sexuality of the women going 20 years ahead of his time, films wouldn't be that explicit enough to do Hammer justice until the late 1960's, but by then the ability to do stylized noir with its stable of character actors is gone, its like two ships passing in the night.

Biff Elliott is a bit miscast as Hammer, he looks a bit too young a bit too green, I would have picked someone like say Charles McGraw as closer to Spillane's brutish hair-triggered PI.

Biff Elliot



The tale starts when his best friend Jack, an insurance investigator and combat amputee, gets himself shot in the guts, and puts Hammer out on a personal revenge rampage.

Now to be honest this is the first film with director of photography John Alton, where I've been a bit letdown, the films seems too washed out and gray than his usual inky blacks and silvery white work, it could be the fault of the DVDr I viewed. Who knows how many copies removed it is from the source print. But there are a lot of sequences that are not very stylistically lighted at all and there are very few, I would go as far as say there is a paucity of outside NYC location shots compared to other Noirs set in NYC (not one skyline shot, bridge shot, nothing, street shots of building entrances are square on, no 3/4 shots showing some of the street perspective, very uninteresting camera angles for the most part) and for a Mike Hammer NYC based film this is a big mistake. Think of all the great NYC city local based Noirs, Where The Sidewalk Ends, The Naked City, Kiss of Death, Side Street, The Phantom Lady, The Window, The Dark Corner that gave you a feel for the city, you don't get that here.

One of the few real outside location shots of an ambulance



A shot typical of almost all the un-imaginative building entrance shots



There is a very nice fight scene on a staircase in what looks like the Bradbury Building in LA this is probably where it was filmed (not from the film)



This would explain the lack of NYC locations if it was all shot in LA

Also Alton here in this film tried his hand at the 3-D process, maybe that is the reason for the films look, but some of the stills posted here show different though, see below. Anyway if any of you have seen better prints of the film, comment, thanks.

A nice stylistic noir shot



A murder scene the party is definitely over



Peggy & Biff



The now iconic ending sequence.



All in all I'll give this on second viewing a 6.5-7/10 comparatively now that I've seen a lot more of Alton's work.
Alternate discussion here: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg135861#msg135861

« Last Edit: February 11, 2012, 04:26:45 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2012, 12:50:45 AM »

Note that Ms. Castle styles herself  "Peggie", not the traditional spelling.

As to Alton's photography, unless you're looking at some kind of restored print I hadn't heard about I don't think there's any way to acurately judge his work on this.

I think you're right about where the film was shot, though. It's an LA film unpersuasively set in NY.

As to Biff Elliott: I've always contended that Hammer IS Spillane, and I think Elliot pretty much delivers that. And Biff is only 4-5 years younger than Mickey.

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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2012, 01:05:23 AM »

Oh, come on... The problem is his round face: Hammer's is angular. 

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cigar joe
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 04:25:47 AM »

Note that Ms. Castle styles herself  "Peggie", not the traditional spelling.

As to Alton's photography, unless you're looking at some kind of restored print I hadn't heard about I don't think there's any way to acurately judge his work on this.

I think you're right about where the film was shot, though. It's an LA film unpersuasively set in NY.

As to Biff Elliott: I've always contended that Hammer IS Spillane, and I think Elliot pretty much delivers that. And Biff is only 4-5 years younger than Mickey.

You are right. Its so washed out, but then again a lot of two shot conversations are normal Hollywood (key/fill light ratio) style lit. I wonder too about the 3D.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2012, 04:43:08 AM »

Quote
As to Biff Elliott: I've always contended that Hammer IS Spillane, and I think Elliot pretty much delivers that. And Biff is only 4-5 years younger than Mickey.

I think I've read that Spillane purposely never described him.

However we have these:





and Hammer by Spillane himself (bottom right panel)


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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2012, 08:22:33 AM »

I'm not talking about his physical appearance, I'm referring to the way the character acts and relates to others. He's not the stoic type (a la Chandler), he's voluable, even annoying.

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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 06:06:34 PM »

I'm not talking about his physical appearance, I'm referring to the way the character acts and relates to others. He's not the stoic type (a la Chandler), he's voluable, even annoying.

In that respect, I'd agree.

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