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Who was the best Mike Hammer?


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On an evening of Mike Hammer films, it seems like a good topic. In addition to the ones on tonight (Ralph Meeker, Robert Bray, and Mickey Spillane himself), there were also:

 

Biff Elliot and Armand Assante in different versions of "I, the Jury"

 

Darren McGavin, Rob Estes, Kevin Dobson and Stacy Keach on TV (and Brian Keith did a pilot)

 

And on radio there was Larry Haines, George Petrie, and Ted Corsia.

 

My choice is Stacy Keach.

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I am sorry to say I do not have a favorite actor for Mike Hammer. Each is very good in their movie and I can not imagine an actor who played that character in another movie would have been better.

 

I would have liked to see what Dick Powell might have done in the role. I found him suprisingly wonderful as Philip Marlowe in *Murder, My Sweet* (1944) which is a quite similar character. As he is not big brute of a man I found his introspections very believable. It is his gentle voice and the knowledge that he is too small to solve all of his problems with his fists and must use his intelligence which draws me in with lines which would sound very cheesy coming from a brawler. I can not imagine any of the actors who played Mike Hammer making me believe a line like: "I walked I don't know how long. I didn't have a watch. They don't make that kind of time in watches anyway."

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HEY! What happened to the top and bottom of the frame in this Mike Hammer movie showing now??

 

The other two were full frame, but this one has the top and bottom of the screen matted in black, black bars?? Where's the rest of the picture?

 

Where's the top of Mickey Spillane's head?? Where are his legs?

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One of my favorite Mike Hammers was the author himself Mickey Spillane in "The Girl Hunters". This is the most brutal Mike Hammer to date and Mickey does a pretty good job. Is he a great actor.No. But he knows his character and plays him better them any other. Loved the scene in the bar when he makes a sleezy thug eat one of his bullets from "Betsy", his colt .45....If you haven't seen it, check it out...

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> {quote:title=fredbaetz wrote:}{quote}

> One of my favorite Mike Hammers was the author himself Mickey Spillane in "The Girl Hunters". This is the most brutal Mike Hammer to date and Mickey does a pretty good job. Is he a great actor.No. But he knows his character and plays him better them any other. Loved the scene in the bar when he makes a sleezy thug eat one of his bullets from "Betsy", his colt .45....If you haven't seen it, check it out...

 

The Girl Hunters just finished airing about 30 minutes ago on TCM...

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> {quote:title=markbeckuaf wrote:}{quote}

> Good topic!

> I'll roll with Ralph Meeker, love his portrayal in KISS ME DEADLY!

> I've only recently been introduced to Darren McGavin in the TV show thanks to Retro-TV. He's pretty good too.

 

I feel the exact same way.

 

I love Ralph Meeker's voice, mannerisms, acting...he was made for the mystery/crime genre.

 

I started watching Mike Hammer on Sunday nights on Retro and surprisingly I enjoy McGavin, not as much as Meeker in the feature film though. I wonder if such a show could make it today and who could play the lead.

 

I recorded The Girl Hunters, I look forward to seeing what Mr Spillane's acting was all about. I liked My Gun is Quick and look forward to seeing it again via DVR. I dozed after Kiss Me Deadly (that ending is always something else, isn't it!?)

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I'm with you, Love! Meeker had it down! And yes, the ending to KISS ME DEADLY, wow!

 

I have to say it took me a bit to get used to McGavin in the role, as I always see him as Kolchak from "The Night Stalker", but he's pretty good in it! I read up on it a bit, and apparently he was in great shape back in those days, often doing his own stunts, and ad-libbing along the way. He actually has a very great style for the role, that I've come to enjoy.

 

Let us know what you think of THE GIRL HUNTERS! I'd seen it before and didn't stay up for it or record it, it's fairly decent. I was grooving to MY GUN IS QUICK, wow!

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Hey Mark, it also took me a little to warm up to McGavin. There was a time about a year or two ago when Encore Mystery would air Kiss Me Deadly and My Gun is Quick fairly often and I remember loving it. I look forward to watching it from my DVR today. Have you ever seen Meeker in his 4 appearances on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"? I loved him in them. They are all available on Hulu to watch.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0508235/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0508180/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0508358/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0508195/

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Love, thank you for those links! I have seen Meeker in one or two, and I will check those out to see which ones I've missed, thank you! I've also been digging AHPresents, and the AHHour on Retro TV, though many of them are online too!

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Ralph Meeker was great as MIke, but the first hammer film "I the jury" stared Biff Elliot and although i haven't seen it for years i remember it as being pretty good.

When the Darren McGavin series was running Mickey was asked what he thought of it and he said his MIKE carried a 45 and not the snub 38 used by Darren.

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I remember when the "Mike Hammer" series with McGavin debuted, there was an article in TV Guide that he could not carry a .45 like Hammer did in the books , he could carry a snub nosed .38 and he was not allowed to be too rough on women as Hammer was in the books.

 

From his appearance on the big screen in "The Man With the Golden Arm", to the "Old Man" in the classic "A Christmas Story" to the evil reporter his unbilled appearance in "The Natural" to his roles on TV, from "Mike Hammer" to "Riverboat" to his great Carl Kolchak in "The Night Stalker" { the hightest rated TV movie made up to that time} to the series and all the guest starring roles in other series, Darren McGavin was one of those great actors who never disappointed.....

 

By the way...Happy Birthday Darren

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on May 7, 2011 1:05 PM

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on May 7, 2011 1:07 PM

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I had a problem with the ending of *Kiss Me Deadly*, at least starting from the point where Mike Hammer gets the key from the coroner. Was it ever established what the coroner was doing with the key and why the cops didn't get it? If he was in with the crooks he would simply have given them the key; if he was honest the cops would have gotten it; if he were in it for himself you'd think the criminals would have gotten the key from the coroner already.

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Actually I always love Ralph Meeker in these type parts, and although Kiss Me Deadly is a classic and a great movie the story line is a bit flukey.

Last night was the first time I've seen Mickey Spillane playing the character he wrote. Although he didn't get great revues, I personally he did the most believable Mike Hammer out of the three movies presented on TCM last night.

 

PS TCM...Thanks for showing something new on TCM, Although TCM is my favorite channel, sometimes you play the same movies to often, and it gets a bit boring.

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Girl Hunters was okay, though not as good as Kiss Me Deadly. Since

Hammer is mostly a one-note character and Spillane is mostly a one-note

actor, things worked out pretty well. The romance with Shirley Eaton wasn't

the most believable, but hey, it's a movie. Semi-spoiler: I thought either Eaton

or Lloyd Nolan would be the fink, just wasn't sure which one. Never stick your

shotgun barrel in a large flower pot. Still best to go with Boy that Mickey Spillane,

he can really write.

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Larry "Stu Bergman" Haines as Mike Hammer? I would love to have heard that. George Petrie did everything so this is not a surprise.

 

I've seen the McGavin and Keach series and the Dobson TV movie; did not know Estes did one too. I like Dobson the most but one of the best ever lines of TV dialogue was between Keach and Burr de Benning on his version:

 

"Come on, Hammer, what kind of fool do you take me for?"

"First rate!"

 

I've seen the Meeker and Bray films and am waiting for the Spillane one. I remember Elliott from 50's soaps and would give this one a look if given the chance. I've followed Armand Assente from The Doctors to NCIS and have a feeling he could be the best. I have to see this version as well.

 

Did not make it through all of The Girl Hunters but was finding it the most interesting of the three. The antagonism between Mike and Pat was strange and the supposed reason-Velda-made me wonder how it came out. Spillane was not that bad in the role; if he couldn't make us understand Mike, who could? If you don't want to spoil it for everybody else will somebody e-mail me the ending?

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Spillaine!!! As an avid reader of the Mike Hammer novels I felt he captured the spirit of the character best because as the author he had the truest insight. I still want to see Biff Elliot's portrayal of Hammer in the 50's version of I The Jury. I can't take away from the movie Kiss Me Deadly as a standout film however, not the greatest adaptation of the novel.

Stacy Keach is my fave television actor to portray Mike Hammer, I just wish they could have made a film adaption of one of the novels with Keach during his time in the role

 

I felt Osborne's comment last night about "Spillaine really believed he was Mike Hammer" was of little value and if meant in jest, even more so.

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Ralph Meeker, definitely. *Kiss Me Deadly* is a great film. I like his tough but sensitive persona.

 

Mickey Spillane does very well for a non-actor. He plays Hammer as a thick-headed jerk, but pulls it off well.

 

Keach plays Hammer more like a football coach than a hard-bitten private eye. Didn't care for him much.

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They definitely started with the best film and worked backwards......didnt make it through the third one, was too tired.....

 

With VALENTINO DURING THE DAY AND SPILLANE AT NIGHT another great day on TCM..........

 

wish TCM would devote Fri nights to Film Noirs EVERY week!

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}

> They definitely started with the best film and worked backwards......didnt make it through the third one, was too tired.....

>

> With VALENTINO DURING THE DAY AND SPILLANE AT NIGHT another great day on TCM..........

>

> *wish TCM would devote Fri nights to Film Noirs EVERY week!*

 

I agree!! Film noir was made for Friday nights!

 

I caught The Girl Hunters and I couldn't get into it. Maybe I should try again.

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I've seen the Mike Hammer movies starring Ralph Meeker, Robert Bray, Biff Elliot, Armand Assante and Mickey Spillane himself, but I think the best Mike Hammer was TV's Stacy Keach. Amand Assante was the worst; totally miscast.

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