GIRL HUNTERS, THE (director/writer: Roy Rowland; screenwriters: from a Mickey Spillane novel/Robert Fellows; cinematographer: Kenneth Talbot; editor: Sidney Stone; music: Philip Green; cast: Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), Shirley Eaton (Laura Knapp), Scott Peters (Police Captain Pat Chambers), Hy Gardner (Himself – the Columnist), Lloyd Nolan (Federal Agent Arthur Rickerby), Guy Kingsley Poynter (Dr. Larry Snyder), James Dyrenforth (Bayliss Henry), Charles Farrell (Joe Grissi), Larry Taylor (The Dragon); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robert Fellows/Charles Reynolds; 20th Century Fox; 1963)
“A miscast Spillane manages to stumble over his own lame dialogue.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
What’s right about this hard-boiled crime thriller (filmed in England) is also what’s wrong with it. It captures the world Mickey Spillane inhabits and even has low-brow novelist Spillane dressed in his familiar porkpie hat playing his fictional hero detective Mike Hammer. But what can’t be realized is how trite, unfeeling and dumb the story is and how bad an actor Spillane is. This vanity project is a hoot to watch as it falls flat on its kisser; the viewer without such an immature sense of humor will find the film to be a drag. A miscast Spillane manages to stumble over his own lame dialogue, while director Roy Rowland seems to be out to lunch in carrying out his directing chores.
Hammer makes his grand opening appearance by lying dead drunk in a NYC alleyway and is taken on the quiet by two squad-car policemen to the home of his former friend and now bitter enemy, Police Captain Pat Chambers (Scott Peters). It’s explained that Hammer has fallen from grace and for the last several years has become a drunk, even losing his private eye license. The reason for going on the sauce is because the secretary he loved, Velda, was presumably killed. Pat now needs a favor from Hammer, as undercover FBI agent Cole has been shot and doesn’t have long to live but says he only wants to speak to Hammer (it beats the living daylights out of me why he chooses Hammer, since Cole doesn’t know him–only Velda). After getting all the info he could from Cole before he kicks off, Hammer learns that Velda might still be alive, that Cole was shot because he infiltrated a commie spy network, and that the assassin is someone named the Dragon. Cole’s best pal, FBI Agent Arthur Rickerby (Lloyd Nolan), contacts Hammer and the two Einstein’s vow revenge on the Dragon. Rickerby makes it possible for Hammer to be legally armed again, and the sleuth with renewed vigor goes after the dirty commies. This brings him to the mansion of sexpot Laura Knapp (Shirley Eaton), the not too grieving widow of a murdered senator is adorned in a bikini (she looks and acts more like an expensive hooker). When Hammer discovers the same gun that killed the senator also killed Cole, he latches onto Laura as an important lead in the case.
As expected, Hammer does his usual macho act of roughing up suspects, railing against the commies, and in one instance nails the hand of the villain to the ground and then makes it possible for the main villain to die in a bizarre way.
This film does not compare well to the best adaptation of a Spillane novel featuring Mike Hammer–Robert Aldrich’s 1955 Kiss Me Deadly.
REVIEWED ON 9/20/2005 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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