And there I was sitting in a world where Stacy Keach was the only Mike Hammer from the hands of crime novelist Mickey Spillane. Stacy’s Mike smashed his way though our 80’s television screens like a, well, Hammer. Stacy Keach was perfect for the part as the tough, gruff and brutally efficient, hard-boiled private investigator. I just didn’t know there was a whole gang of different Mike Hammer’s bringing justice throughout the ages. Kolchak The Night Stalker very own Darren McGavin played him in a 50’s series and in a universe defying paradox, creator Mickey Spillane actually plays his own “baby” in the 1963 film The Girl Hunters. (I need to see this)
A big thanks to John Charet over at Cinematic Coffee for putting me on to this exciting, intelligent and twisting, turning film noir with a devilish curveball in its tail. I dropped my film schedule and delved right into this Robert Aldrich directed Kiss Me Deadly. Here’s a few observations without no real spoils.
Sports car loving lady magnet Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) can’t but help pull in the babes. Even when he’s hurtling along the motorway in the dead of night sat in his beautiful Jaguar XK120 coupe they just seem to find a way to fling themselves at him. Running in the middle of the black top road is the bare feet of a frightened, half naked girl, breathless and gasping for air. Mike’s really more concerned about his sweet ride but he half-heartedly picks up this strangely intriguing hitch-hiking girl.
Mike Hammer – “So you’re a fugitive from the laughing house?”.
Little would he know that this young lady, Christina Bailey (Cloris Leachman) was going to cause him so much mayhem. He’d need all his detective skills, lucky his number one talent is information sniffing. His second talent? to use whatever weapon is to hand to bust out of a tricky situation, like……POPCORN! In your face stalker, that will teach you to tail this here Mike Hammer.
Tagline – “I don’t care what you do to me, Mike – just do it fast!”
With his trusty secretary with benefits, the besotted Velda (Maxine Cooper) to help keep the flirty gumshoe grounded. They both go about putting the pieces to this head scratching puzzle together. Velda at home trawling through information and Mike hitting the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. Knocking on doors, smashing heads and getting in some sweet broad action! It’s all in day’s work for this hard as nails private investigator but will he be able to solve the case and could it be more than he can chew? Be sure to tune into this sublime thriller to find out.
Mike Hammer – “Give me a double bourbon and leave the bottle!”
A Few Wolfy Observations
- The opening scene looking down the highway through the Jags windscreen with the credits scrolling strangely backwards to the haunting sound of the young lady trying to catch her breath. It really sets the mood for this hard hitting noir.
- The camera angles are slightly askew and off-center at times. Whether they are looking up or down, it’s framed scenes have a certain sinister atmosphere. There is also shots of shoes moving about doing dastardly things adding to the intrigue.
- Was it just me or did the young girl (Gaby Rodgers) with the short hair have a modern feel to her, she looked and felt like she was from newer era, a time traveller maybe hehe.
- I’m a sucker for some vintage jazz footage in a nightclub, here we get lounge singer Mady Comfort singing a beautifully ditty as Mike hits the sour mash.
- The LA settings are magnificent and I read the film is a real time capsule with most of the old buildings used as sets have now unfortunately all been demolished.
- I liked the attention to detail in Mike’s apartment with his private investigating kit hanging up on the wall, binoculars, cameras etc. Plus that answer machine must of been way ahead of its time.
- Look out for resident heavies Jack Lambert and lazy eyed Jack Elam? With a special unseen move, Mike takes one of them out with a flash. What was it? An uppercut or a karate chop, hehe we will never know.
- Now I need to track down I, The Jury (1953) which sounds like the first Mike Hammer adventure and My Gun Is Quick (1957) and Mickey Spillane starring The Girl Hunters (1963).
Thanks for dropping by the old wolfie lair. Not sure which film will be featured next, maybe poke your head in again sometime and see what’s tickled my film fancy. Oh and be sure to pop on over to John Charets Take On Kiss Me Deadly and say hello.
All the best and happy viewing…. Mikey Wolfenstein
PS – By the way as of writing Kiss Me Deadly was on YouTube