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Written by / 7/11/2016 / No comments / , , , , ,

MICKEY SPILLANE WIELDS HIS OWN HAMMER IN 'THE GIRL HUNTERS'

Mickey Spillane as his creation in THE GIRL HUNTERS
It's not just how an actor delivers a line, but how they actually sit and/or stand there and actually... listen... Not something you really notice until a non-actor calls attention to the important process of reaction. And in this case, God is playing his own creation... Imagine if, instead of providing a quick fun cameo, Alfred Hitchcock took over Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart's job as leading man...

Hammer and Pat battle
Then again, Mickey Spillane, who acts in an extremely subtle manner, and reacts with a stonewall countenance, does look much tougher and genuinely street savvy than most writers of tough guy fiction. And several actors played Mike Hammer; Ralph Meeker in KISS ME DEADLY was by far the best, most quintessential although you can't imagine him writing about his exploits, or doing any sort of personal narration, which is what the books are...

Robert Bray from MY GUN IS QUICK seems as if Hammer were real and they based a comic book on his exploits which became a motion picture, and Bray took on the part like George Reeves did Superman... TV's Darren McGavin seemed like Hammer's charming used car salesman brother who filled the gumshoe's shoes and, instead of the dames coming to him, he had to flirt his way into their hearts: And so, by 1963, writer Spillane, a visual cross between Eli Wallach on growth pills and "Thug Number Three" from any mobster flick you choose, took the mantle... And it'd been exactly seven years, within the story, that Hammer was a working Private Eye and eight years since KISS ME DEADLY hit theaters with a menacing growl...

Girl Hunters Score: ***1/2
During that time, Hammer lived his life in a bottle, brokenhearted over his secretary and secret partner, Velda, who vanished mysteriously and is what the title GIRL HUNTERS is about. Not only is Mike searching for her; he's after a mystery man who might hold a deadly secret, and his on/off buddy cop Paul has also emerged from the shadows, helping Mike clean up, the hard way, making the first fifteen minutes in a hospital, with more exposition than the first act of a stage play, somewhat contrived and ponderous.

Shirley Eaton The Girl Hunters
As the lead, Spillane, though ambling from scene to scene, does begin to grow, and as the film takes a little while to take off – when those heavy feet hit the street, something happens. With such a low budget and shot entirely in England, the cheap sets, extreme close-ups and somewhat confusing dialogue riddled with last names and red herrings fits this particular anti-hero since he's not being played by a "real actor," and this is no KISS ME DEADLY and isn't trying to be. The love scenes with a gorgeous blonde ingenue, who'd get painted the next year in GOLDFINGER, helps Spillane along: In that, Shirley Eaton provides a subtle Femme Fatalle, igniting the pace beyond the cardboard mainline.

Rough! Raw! Ripping! Spillane...
Meanwhile, Paul the snoopy, badgering but friendly cop (Wesley Addy owned the part in DEADLY), usually a thin yet determined, second banana type, is played by a muscular square-jawed b-actor who starred in such films as THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN: He's tough and no-nonsense, and like Mickey, resembles more of a villainous thug than someone you'd usually root for...

In fact, in scenes where both Alpha Males bicker over what will be the next move (while stock ringer Lloyd Nolan plays a CIA Agent) it's as if the bottom fell out of a "normal" Film Noir during the 1950's heyday and landed oddly into place for this eerie 1963 "Late Noir" (as opposed to a Neo Noir like, say, CHINATOWN, that deliberately mirrored the past genre as opposed to coming out after they ceased being made)... One that might take a few viewings to really get, and you have to wait a little while for the rhythm to click, and the Hammer to fall.
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton and Mickey Spillane in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton's famous golden death in GOLDFINGER starring Sean Connery as James Bond
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
Shirley Eaton as Laura Knapp in THE GIRL HUNTERS
But our favorite girl is Kim Tracy as an adorable nurse opposite Spillane in The Girl Hunters
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