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Author Topic: Best Mike Hammer  (Read 19177 times)
cigar joe
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« on: December 11, 2010, 04:30:55 PM »

OK since DJ got the ball rolling in the film noir thread and I'm currently reading "Survival... Zero! (1970)" and on top of that just watched "Marty (1955)" with Ernest Borgnine that has a pretty good/humorous reference to Hammer &  "I The Jury" near the end.

Lets try and list the best Mike Hammer Film, the best Mike hammer book, the Best Mike Hammer depiction in film, TV, radio, the best Velda, etc., etc. I know there were at least two TV show series one starring Darin McGavin in the 50's the other Stacey Keach in the mid 80's of which all I remember is the use of the great "Harlem Nocturne" for the theme. I didn't watch much TV between 1970-1980's




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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 06:08:49 AM »

Best novel? I like almost all the '50's one but also the early '60's like The Snake or Girl Hunters. Actaully the first I ever read, in italian, was The Twisted Thing and I was enthusiastic, especially because of the finale (almost all S.'s finales are memorable). It was published in 1966 but it had been written much before.  Best Hammer ever? Easy: Spillane himself. Best movie: rationally Kiss me Deadly, but if I had to take one on a desert island I'd take Girl Hunters, in spite of having been shot in London. Best Tv? I only have the Keach series and is a good series but it has little to do with Mike Hammer. I saw  the I, the Jury made in the 50's and is good but the MH there just can't be Hammer because of the rube  face (Hammer is like Spillane all rectangular). A pity. But I am curious about the Assante's version which seems to have been a great one but, unfortunately, I couldn't locate it anywhere.       

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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2010, 07:07:26 AM »

I only have the Keach series and is a good series but it has little to do with Mike Hammer.
Very true.

I don't like the Aldrich film--the women are all wrong for their parts (with one exception, the doll hanging around Paul Stewart's pool). That's partly why I prefer the 50s I, the Jury (with Peggie Castle, hubba hubba) and also the one I watched yesterday, My Gun Is Quick (with its Top TV Talent). Those two also have plenty of action. I haven't seen the Assante film. Come to that, I haven't seen The Girl Hunters either. And I haven't read the books. Huh. I guess I don't know much about this subject. Checking out.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2010, 04:49:02 PM »

Well, Assante's "I, the Jury" was the first Hammer film I ever saw so I do have a sentimental attachment to it, but after reading "I, the Jury" obviously to me now Assante doesn't quite fit the Hammer book persona, but I haven't seen it in quite a while though I do remember the part of Velda was played by a dish Laurene Landon though as a blond rather than a brunette or redhead.







and it seemed to be shot in New York, same can be said for Ralph Meeker in Kiss Me Deadly he comes off a bit like slick tough beach bum type rather than Hammer-esque, but since the local was changed to California I can live with that incarnation/interpretation.

Though like DJ mentioned, none of the women in "Kiss Me Deadly" including Velda, save the doll hanging around Paul Stewart's pool are right. Now how could anyone who's read the books screw the broads up is beyond me, everyone of them should be drop dead gorgeous.

I've seen "The Girl Hunters" on TV quite a while ago and would like to revisit it also before I can rate it but you probably can't beat Spillane as Hammer as titoli states, and the women were definitely "hammer-tomically" correct .

I've seen "I, The Jury" (1953) with Biff Elliot in the role of Hammer and  Peggy Castel as Charlotte Manning and Tani Guthrie as Mary Bellamy were hot. Elliot on the other hand was a bit miscast

Of the novels all I've read are "I, the Jury" and "Survival Zero" both are good pulp novels.

Of the TV shows I've seen nada but the Mike Hammer TV Series (1956-59) starring Darren McGavin was shot in New York .

I'll watch "My Gun Is Quick" and add my thoughts.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2010, 08:30:27 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 10:41:13 AM »

Quote
"hammer-tomically" correct .
Grin Thanks for that, CJ. I'll certainly keep it around for later use.

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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2010, 05:51:30 PM »

Just re-watched "The Narrow Margin" with the commentary track and have come to realize that Charles McGraw would probably have been the quintessential Mike Hammer  Afro

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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 03:31:55 AM »

Actually the Assante movie is available at Amazon on vhs or VOD.

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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2010, 05:54:38 AM »

DJ prodded me into watching "My Gun Is Quick" (1957) so I did last night off Netflix. Robert Bray puts in a passable portrayal as Mike Hammer he's Hammer-esgue but again here is a case where the action is moved to California and the talent to make an acceptable Noir-ish stylized Mike Hammer film is noticeably lacking, it looks made on the cheap, it plays like a TV film and is nowhere near Aldrich's film noir masterpiece.  The broads Whitney Blake, Patricia Donahue, Pamela Duncan, prostitute Jan Chaney, and stripper Genie Coree  are again "hammer-tommically" correct but again as in both "I The Jury" (1953),  and "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955) the slightly gratuitous sexuality which should be a touchstone in any Mike Hammer based film is PG-13 if even that.  To put it bluntly the hammer babes (save for Velda) peal for Mike at every opportunity.

Another big faux pas in hammer-city is where the fuck is the Colt .45 automatic Huh?, Bray runs around with what looks like a .38 special a popgun in comparison, come on right from the get-go with the scene in the lunch counter you know its gonna be off.

Now to understand where I'm coming from I just got done watching "The Narrow Margin" twice once with the commentary track and its a very good commentary track, bty, and the current TCM miniseries "Moguls and Movie Stars" about the birth and death of the Hollywood studio system, and it informs you about why we are where we are today with films.

Here are my thoughts, 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.

I believe that Assante's "I, The Jury" (1982) did do the graphic violence, nudity & sex right but it was set in a more contemporary setting basically the 1980's or mid to late 1970's and substitutes Vietnam for Korea, I've also read that it uses some of plot from Spillane's 1967 book "The Body Lovers" but I've never read that novel and haven't seen the film for ages so I'll refrain from commenting further .

I think our only hope may be something on the lines of an adult R rated "Sin City" type stylized Noir based on Mike Hammer.

« Last Edit: December 14, 2010, 07:21:02 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2010, 01:31:44 PM »

For me this should be included in the list. At number one.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQZocUjWZUo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaGbuoMlIvE&feature=related

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« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2011, 05:22:18 PM »

nice find Afro

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« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2011, 06:35:48 PM »

nice find Afro

Don't tell me you never saw it before! Shocked

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« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2011, 07:16:39 PM »

Don't tell me you never saw it before! Shocked

May Have but forgotten about it.

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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 05:43:19 PM »

The Girl Hunters (1963) OK thanks to titoli I now own a copy of this. Did a re-watch of the film yesterday and today. Its got some positives & negatives.

Positive:

Lots of New York City establishing & location shots, this was "my" city, the 1963 NY I remember as a kid the police black white & olive green squad cars (BTW they changed to todays white & blue color scheme during 1973-74), the yellow cabs, the store fronts. Mike Hammer in his correct environment.

Shirley Eaton, "hammertomically" correct in every way, she is the femme fatale of the piece and a knockout. For those of you not familiar with the name she later became the iconic girl in gold in the James Bond flick "Gold Finger". She also has a memorable final denouement.

Loyd Nolan makes a nice supporting appearance.

Negative:

Not really filmed in the Noir style, "Kiss Me Deadly" nails this aspect beautifully.

Mickey Splillane plays Hammer, now if he was a better actor it may have been better, he looks a bit ridiculous in the pork-pie hat. I still say Charles McGraw, or Broderick Crawford would have been ideal.

No Velma.

Could have used more of everything its a bit too sparse as it is, more interesting interiors, transitions, shots, lighting, camera angles, more time with bit part characters, again see "Kiss Me Deadly" as a comparison.

Score is a bit way too one note and somewhat overpowering where it is used. I prefer "Harlem Nocturne" which was used as the main theme in the Keach TV Hammer series.

And what is with this fetish with bullets, and linking crimes with bullets fired by the same gun, this and "I, The Jury" use this device and you got to think to yourself that any criminal with a brain is going to get rid of the murder weapon and not conveniently keep reusing the same gun over and over.

Not enough sex & graphic violence, again the books were ahead of the films in this department.

6.5/10






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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2011, 12:53:57 AM »

The Girl Hunters (1963)
Positive:

Lots of New York City establishing & location shots, this was "my" city, the 1963 NY I remember as a kid the police black white & olive green squad cars (BTW they changed to todays white & blue color scheme during 1973-74), the yellow cabs, the store fronts. Mike Hammer in his correct environment.

Until now I thought this was almost entirely shot in England, like Eyes Wide Shut...

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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2011, 06:16:40 AM »

Until now I thought this was almost entirely shot in England, like Eyes Wide Shut...

I'm sure most of it is, but all those shots of him walking around in trench coat are NYC establishing shots.

I'll do a quick run down:

Right after the Directed By credit we see the Time Life Building in the center screen with 7th Avenue looking North to Times Square traffic heading South the the NYPD car is a correct Dodge Polara. The very next scene is England the cops finding him in the alley one cop has an English accent the car is a Dodge but a Desoto with wings on the back a different car.

Hammer leaving the Hospital, looks like NYC streets, street lights, don't walk signs, wire trash baskets, the cars in the traffic, the taxi, the walk through the building is hard to say but as soon as he's out on the street again it looks like NYC curb & water hydrant, again a Chevy Impala (Bennie from Alfredo Garcia's Car) drive by as he looks at the newspaper stand. Now that newsstand sequence with Duck-Duck he sounds English. As soon as he leaves the stand you see NYC traffic, a corner Fire or Police call box on a pole a No Standing sign, then it cuts to a brownstone building, bluestone sidewalk street with a Ford panel van parked at the curb.

Next segment is him coming up out of the Subway the, The IRT Subway (To Queensboro The Broxn and Brooklyn Trains)- 8th Avenue Subway (uptown) & Walk-Do Not Run use handrails signs, the bare light bulbs above the stairway, The Herald Tribune office.

here is the same shot from Life mag looking in the opposite direction with the Tribune sign & subway entrance.

http://http://images.google.com/hosted/life/l?imgurl=68f049f345759084&q=New%20York%20herald%20tribune%20office%20images&prev=/images%3Fq%3DNew%2BYork%2Bherald%2Btribune%2Boffice%2Bimages%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26channel%3Ds%26biw%3D1358%26bih%3D569%26tbs%3Disch:1

Soon as he leaves the Tribune office you see the Empire State Building in the background as he drives into the Mid Town Tunnel towards Long Island. Then I think we are back in England.

After Hammer is beaten up in office he finds the dead doorman and goes outside to hail a cab that little segment is NYC then in the cab probably England with the cabbie, then getting out of said cab you see a wire trash basket again with a Did you risk a $25 fine today DO NOT LITTER sign. Then a Worth Street Restaurant in the bg. down below Canal St. NYC. Joe Grissi Bar Grill is probably a fake sign.

That bar interior sequence probably England, the shot fired in alley England, BTW NYC has practically no wooden fences the bums would steal all the wood, lol, chain link and wrought iron are NYC fence material.

Later a shot of the 4th precinct Police station looks like the 1st stood in:



later Hotel Elysee



its Monkey Bar are real NYC places



Skyline shots of NYC are real

The end credits showing a cruise ship docked along the Hudson is period NYC.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 06:31:23 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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