BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Mar 14th, 2000 •

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This one never appeared on laserdisc, and was always high on my wish list for eventual superior home video release. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mickey Spillane a few years ago, and we discussed the various incarnations of his alter-ego, Mike Hammer. He loathed Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly, the best of the Hammer translations (and one of the most unique films ever produced), and for perfectly logical reasons: it was a perversion of his protagonist and a jettison of the book’s story, so why do it?

For Spillane, the best cinematic treatment of his work was this CinemaScope potboiler starring – I know you’ll find this a tad egotistical – the author himself. And while I don’t agree with him – I am insanely enamored of KMD – I’m also crazy about this one, to a lesser degree. It’s kind of a campy riot, with Spillane/Hammer always walking quickly down streets and out of scenes, with Spillane the non-actor squinting because he can’t take the set lights, with the jaunty ‘Hammer motif’ repeating ad infinitum as the film goes on until just hearing it can send one into paroxysms of laughter. This stuff was just as unintentionally funny in 1965 when I caught up with the film in Italy. Other elements, however, are not unintentionally funny and are still quite effective today – the third act violence, the existential, McGuffin-esque non-use of ‘Velda’, the ending, and Spillane’s presence, actor or not.

I recounted my impression of one scene to him, where he faces down a villain in a bar, and makes him swallow a bullet. The guy takes the bullet and pushes it between his pursed lips as if he were inserting a suppository. Spillane laughed heartily and admitted that was the visual metaphor they were going for. I won’t give away any other goodies. But there are quite a few.

Goldfinger girl Shirley Eaton shows off her wares, and Lloyd Nolan turns in competent co-starring support. The transfer, from an element which hasn’t seen much use over the past four decades, is crisp and rich in tone. I think the film’s a crowd amuser. I recommend you add it to your collection.

Mickey Spillane, photographed for Films in Review by Judy Seaman.

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