Saturday, January 14, 2012



'Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer'

Darren McGavin

Earth Prime-Time

Recastaway (Deceased)

Mickey Spillane

From Wikipedia:
Michael "Mike" Hammer is a fictional detective created by the American author Mickey Spillane in the 1947 book "I, the Jury" (made into a movie in 1953 and 1982).

Several movies and radio and television series have been based on the books in the Hammer series. The actor most closely identified with the character in recent years has been Stacy Keach, who portrayed Hammer in a CBS television series, 'Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer', which ran from 1984–1987 and had a syndicated revival in 1997–1998. (An earlier syndicated version, originally aired in 1957–1958, starred Darren McGavin as Hammer.) Spillane himself played Hammer in a 1963 motion picture adaptation of "The Girl Hunters". Spillane himself favoured ex-Marine and former Newburgh, New York police officer Jack Stang, on whom he based the character, to play him. Stang appeared with Spillane in the 1954 film "Ring of Fear" and in the film adaptation of "I, the Jury".

While pulp detectives such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are hard-boiled and cynical, Hammer is in many ways the archetypal "hard man": brutally violent, misogynistic, and fuelled by a genuine rage that never afflicts Raymond Chandler's or Dashiell Hammett's heroes. In "The Big Kill" Hammer describes himself to a bargirl as a misanthrope.

While other hardboiled heroes bend and manipulate the law, Hammer holds it in total contempt, seeing it as nothing more than an impediment to justice, the one virtue he holds in absolute esteem. Hammer nevertheless has a strong respect for the majority of police, realising they have a difficult job and their hands are frequently tied by the law when trying to stop criminals.

Mike Hammer is a no-holds barred Battle of Guadalcanal veteran private investigator who carries a .45 Colt M1911, named "Betsy" in a shoulder harness under his left arm. His love for his secretary Velda is only outweighed by his willingness to kill a killer. Hammer's best friend is Pat Chambers, Captain of Homicide NYPD.

Hammer is also patriotic and anti-communist. The novels are peppered with remarks by Hammer supporting American troops in Korea, and in "Survival...Zero" Vietnam. In "One Lonely Night", where Hammer attends a communist meeting in a park, his reaction to the speaker's propaganda is a sarcastic "Yeah."

So far as violence is concerned, the Hammer novels leave little to the imagination. Written in the first person, Hammer describes his violent encounters with relish. In all but a few novels, Hammer's victims are often left vomiting after a blow to the stomach or groin.

The Washington Times obituary of Spillane said of Hammer, "In a manner similar to Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, Hammer was a cynical loner contemptuous of the 'tedious process' of the legal system, choosing instead to enforce the law on his own terms."

'Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer' is the title used for two syndicated television series that followed the adventures of fictional private detective Mike Hammer. The gritty, crime fighting detective—created by American crime author Mickey Spillane—has also inspired several feature films and made-for-TV movies.

From the source:
"It was a fine day. The sun was warm and the streets full of kids making  67th and walked back to the park. She wasn't on any of the benches, so I hopped the fence and cut across the grass to the inside walk. The day had brought out a million strollers, it seemed like. Private nurses in tricky rigs went by with a toddler at their heels, and more than once
racket like a pack of squirrels. I drove to the corner and stopped in a cigar store where I put in a call to Charlotte's office. She wasn't there, but her secretary had been told to tell me that if I called, I could find her in Central Park on the Fifth Avenue side near 68th Street. ....I drove in from the cutoff on Central Park West and drove all around the place, circling toward Fifth. When I came out I parked on
I got the eye."
- ("I, The Jury")

I'm willing to entertain the notion that the Mike Hammer played by Stacy Keach (above, right)  in the 1980's was the son, probably illegitimate, of Darren McGavin's Mike Hammer. (I would prefer to keep as many TV shows as I can in the main TV dimension, if I could.)

If anyone should know of any reason this should not be - a mention in some episode's plot point, an appearance by some other actor as his father - please let me know.

For a recent, insightful overlook to the series from the 1950's, click here.


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