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: My Gun is Quick (1957)  ( 2159 )
Jessica Rabbit
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« : May 28, 2017, 12:09:36 PM »

"I just crawled out of a sewer, not a decent person left in the world"

My Gun is Quick is a slightly bland B effort that doesn't live up to either the nice quote nor to other Spillane movies like I, The Jury (minus Biff Elliot) and Kiss Me Deadly. If the audiences hopes to see the hero wallow in the cesspool of humanity, we’re gonna be disappointed.

Mike Hammer (Robert Bray) meets tired and disillusioned young hooker Red at a greasy spoon. Hours later she turns up dead and the valuable ring she was wearing, from an Italian treasure stolen during the War, is gone. Hammer is out to avenge her death trying to unravel a convoluted conspiracy involving sexy divorcee Nancy, several other available dames and lots of unsavory characters.

Mickey Spillane was a comic book writer before he began to write pulp fiction and his books clearly reflect that. Hammer is written as a cartoon character. Raymond Chandler loathed Spillane’s writing and protagonist intensely though he shouldn’t have. Spillane’s protagonist is simply the darker alter ego of Marlowe et al., and while Chandler had the critics on his side, Spillane was loved by the audience. Mike Hammer was firmly entrenched in the gutter, and he liked it there.

Mickey Spillane’s Hammer was fueled by a rage against violent crime, but at the same time considered the legal system a big hindrance to mete out justice. Hammer doesn’t just bend the law, he holds it in contempt. For him law and justice aren’t the same thing and for that reason he often decides to enforce the law himself by acting as judge, jury and executioner. He is an avenger, in a way a precursor to The Punisher or Judge Dredd. 
Hammer has often been called misogynistic but it’s simply not right. He’s not so much misogynistic as misanthropic. Hammer hates everybody.

Spillane’s creation was a crude, violent, sadistic, unethical commie-hating thug with a badge who gleefully beat the snot out of people just for the fun of it, and other film versions didn’t bother to pretty him up. Ralph Meeker came much closer to Hammer's true character in Kiss Me Deadly though obviously the Code diluted him a bit. Bray is not Spillane’s Hammer, he may still have the macho appeal but whitewashes Hammer’s key traits considerably. He’s a boy scout, much closer to what Chandler called “a knight in dirty armor”, hard-boiled, morally ambivalent maybe but with a heart of gold. He is simply too timid!

And that’s the problem with My Gun is Quick. To ignore all that Mike Hammer is invalidates the specialness of Spillane’s writing. Spillane’s Hammer was a breed apart, he was unique, Bray’s Hammer is just another PI, indistinguishable from other 50s PI characters. This movie just doesn’t capture the feel of Spillane’s novels, everything that makes Spillane Spillane is missing, so why name the main character Mike Hammer? Robert Bray had the looks to play Hammer, but he felt neutered. Many late 50s movies were a lot more brutal and gritty than this one.

When Red’s pimp starts harassing her, Bray beats him up and gives the hooker enough money to buy herself new shoes and a bus ticket back home. This is Hammer the savior of humanity, he takes pity on Red and even gives her a fatherly (!) good-bye kiss. This guy actually gives a damn and it’s simply out-of-character.

Another issue is the uneven pace of the movie, it was filmed by two different directors which showed, though it picks up in the second half.

On the plus side we have some good dialogue and lots of sexy, duplicitous, scantily clad and occasionally lethal babes.

Greasy spoons, run-down hotel rooms and strip clubs are Hammer’s natural habitat and capture the seedy ambience of Spillane quite well.

The outside locations are interesting. The 50s featured a lot more on-location shooting, but this is not a glamorous LA we get to see. Instead we have big freeways, oil derricks and stark industrial sights which convey a sense of desolation and bleakness.

It’s on youtube and definitively worth a watch though I'd call the film a failed effort simply because this is not Spillane. Other than that, it's a fun movie.


Jessica Rabbit
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cigar joe
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« #1 : May 29, 2017, 05:18:39 AM »

Further old discussions here:  http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg144090#msg144090

And our discussion about The Best Mike Hammer here: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=9878.msg144095#msg144095

« : May 29, 2017, 05:22:25 AM cigar joe »

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« #2 : May 30, 2017, 01:31:18 PM »

I saw the old discussion, but couldn't add to it so I started a new thread. But I missed the "best Mike Hammer" thread. Thanks.


Jessica Rabbit
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dave jenkins
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« #3 : June 02, 2017, 05:11:41 PM »

I think the problem here is that there's no real Mike Hammer in this Mike Hammer film. But if that wasn't an issue--if this was a film about a guy named John Smith, for instance, people would be able to enjoy it for what it is. And I am supremely talented in that department. I can watch this film and get a lot of fun out of it. I just pretend that the Mike Hammer in this film is a guy who just happens to share the name of the character in the Mickey Spillane novels.



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« #4 : June 03, 2017, 07:24:01 AM »

Dave, I guess that's the best way to look at it. I like Robert Bray, he's a good-looking man but I expected a mean SOB, dammit.


Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
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