Tuesday, May 23, 2006


One of 20th century pulp literature's most enduring characters is Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. He's one of the original tough guys, and more than likely an idealised alter-ego of his author. After all, Mike has the same first name as his creator, as well as the same surname as a certain blunt object used to hit things. Since Mike himself is a blunt object used to hit things, the similarities cannot be coincidental.

On Friday night I watched 1955's film version of 'Kiss Me Deadly', a Mike Hammer adventure in which our hero does a lot of glowering and an awful lot of hitting. He's a punch people in the head, ask questions later kind of man. He doesn't so much solve cases as blunder into them, fists flailing, and causing such a ruckus that the guilty parties become spooked and start turning on each other. Of course, anyone with a cool head can thus use him to acheive their own ends and get rid of the competition, as they do in this particular case.

mike hammer

Mike Hammer suspects that somewhere, just out of earshot, something is going on that he doesn't understand. Possibly involving math.

Mike Hammer is a winner with the ladies, although they tend to be the clingy, co-dependent ladies not overblessed in the looks department.

mike and velda

Mike's secretary and occasional lover Velda, who may be limber, but damn she looks like John Kerry in a wig.

Of course it doesn't help that he treats them with all the gentlemanly grace and good manners of Mike Tyson.

mike and friday

In this scene, Mike asks a broad if she knows how to spell "no". The appropriate response would have been to ask him if he knew how to spell "misogyny".

With his dapper suits and Jaguar sports car, he tries to play the sophisticated man about town, like a free market James Bond, but sadly he's just not smart enough to carry it off. He has a certain level of street cunning, but when it comes to logic and investigation, he's more Katie Holmes than Sherlock Holmes.

mike and lily

"The words she's saying have something to do with that thing she's holding. If only I could work out the connection!"

Still, in the end all of the evil people were dead, so maybe you could say that Mike triumphed. Of course, most of the good characters were dead too, including the Dame In Distress, the Dame in Distress' roommate, Mike's insanely cheerful and overly Greek mechanic, some harmless old guy who worked at the Hollywood Athletic Club, Mike's completely innocent Jaguar convertible, and too many more to mention. And a large part of the Californian coastline was rendered uninhabitable by radiation. But Mike was still alive, so I guess he wins.

mike and velda 2

Mike attempts to walk and chew gum at the same time, with predictable results.


Blogger Sauntering Walker said...

Nice review, Bland.
I think I would have liked Mike's Greek mechanic.

PS What's your position on "math" vs. "maths"? Excuse the pedantry, but I am interested in the way the US form of spelling is becoming widespread.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

'Math' seemed more appropriate, in this context, since Hammer is a quintessentially American creation.

1:38 PM  

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