Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Y'know, it really is a credit to the energy and stamina that was the fifties that a character like Mickey Spillane's MIKE HAMMER could have been as omnipresent as it was during those oft loathed years. Really, the fact that the horny, ultra-violent and pinko (meaning you)-hating private eye could have proliferated in books, movies, television and even comic strips only goes to show you what the true spirit of that era was, and a whole lot more than the usual rose-colored nostalgic fodder that came out during the seventies ever did. I couldn't see the likes of a Hammer making any headway within the easygoing Great Society days of the mid/late-sixties; maybe he could have in the same seventies that gave us such forgotten faves as Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe in FAREWELL MY LOVELY, but otherwise it is obvious that Mike Hammer was the product of the ultra-boss post-World War II/pre-hippie/Vietnam War days that all of those phony intellectuals and perversion-loving louts seem to hate with a passion. Y'know, the kind of specimen who loves to write into this blog and direct at me yawn-inspiring variations on the same old Dave Berg cliches thinking they're being oh-so-witty as Edgar Breau once sang in his infamous "New Sacred Cow Blues". Don't worry guys, you always have TODAY with all of that venereal disease, sexual perversion, race-baiting and success-hating that you undoubtedly adore, and aren't you just tickling-pink glad about living in an era where the concepts of compassion, morality and decency are so slanted in your direction to the point where you only see oppressors and victims instead of right and wrong? As for me I'll take the fifties and the concept of masculinity and femininity as expounded on in HAMMER. At he knows what the difference between up and down, and he's more'n apt to tell you all about it with a few bullets to the gut just to prove his point!

Gotta admit that I thought that what I've seen of Hammer on film was a real hoot. Never did get to glom THE GIRL HUNTERS which not only had HAMMER creator Spillane playing the lead but a boffo hand-nailed-to-the-floor scene, though KISS ME, DEADLY with Ralph Meeker was beyond powerful especially in the scene where he brutally crushes the hand of noted character actor Percy Helton portraying a bribe-taking snivel who really deserved the bone-crunching his mitt got. Meeker played it passionate, violent and rabid, the exact opposite to the kind and caring (and impotent) detectives you would eventually see proliferate the screen as America began to move to soft and flabby mode somewhere in the seventies. But hey, I must be a sicko because somehow I think the concept of justice trumps that of fair mindedness and moral relativity which certainly makes me outside my time. But then again, what else is old?

And as far as Hammer on tee-vee goes, nothing beats Darrin McGavin in this '57/'58 rendition which makes the latterday Stacy Keach variation look like Mister Rogers. Oh yeah, I know that more'n a few of you reg'lar readers really dug Keach's mid-eighties HAMMER-portrayal courtesy of CBS as well as the brief nineties syndicated revival, but I found it to be extremely seedy (in a disturbing way), smarmy and unnecessarily eighties-conscious. McGavin's HAMMER is hands down the ultmate tee-vee rendition and so spot on that I kinda wish that he would've taken the eighties role...I mean, if he could play a mid-aged father while in his early-sixties in A CHRISTMAS STORY why not have him revive HAMMER to what would have been extremely powerful effect? Just another "what if" I sure would have liked to have seen.

Whatever, McGavin as HAMMER was yet one of the many bright spots on the late-fifties tee-vee dial, and thanks to Bill Shute I got to see 25 whole episodes (I believe out of fifty total) which really affects me in a high energy, no holds barred sorta way that nothing created since the seventies (latest) ever could. I guess that I always liked McGavin even when he was playing simpy roles like that drill sergeant who had to put up with Jan Michael Vincent in TRIBES, maybe because no matter what role he was in McGavin reminds me of the ideal of what men were supposed to be when I was a kid and the kinda guy I sure wished I could have grown up to be when I was of a mere grade school age. Obviously I flopped badly in my life's journey but at least guys like McGavin had that special coolness to 'em which could turn to rage at the mere drop of a twig, and why wouldn't something like that appeal to a first grader? Or maybe it's because Hammer is such a non-corruptible hero which really resonates in this totally amoral age that only makes me wish all the more there were people like him in a world where even the highest in office are so mealy I kinda wish someone the caliber of Hammer would just go up to 'em and give 'em what for! Y'know, just like he does to a heavy who's just roughed up this weeks' gorgeous female lead.

On this show there's no hand-nailing, "lump licking", lump piercing or any of the more out-there Hammerisms often found in the novels (I guess Spillane had a "thing" for damaging hands, pulverizing testicles and, when the time was right, using testicles for other purposes). Well, this is tee-vee and that medium used to have a sense of propriety before the hippies got in charge, but at least we do get a whole load of that hard-edged violence which suits me all the more. Y'know, the stuff that really used to upset those moral uplifters and other do-gooders who pressured the networks to cut down on the brutality of shows like HAMMER and make nice, peaceful and sex-laden stories that might have been non-violent but were boring as all heck. Maybe this is one reason I like these HAMMER's so much along those also eventually expurgated BUGS BUNNY cartoons with all of the explosions and calamity left intact. Especially since for all intent purposes this type of entertainment is pretty much verboten according to the tenants of the "New Civilization" which makes me so blood-boiling mad that I wanna go out and sell HAMMER DVD's to schoolchildren when the authorities aren't looking!

And if this is indeed true, then give me that Old Civilization pronto-like, the one filled with extremely-hard-edged men like Hammer as well as the decadent millionaires, turncoat friends and sexy femmes (amongst 'em Gloria Talbot and a pre-blond Angie Dickenson appearing on this series twice) who get leaned on by tough thugs in suits and accountants on the take. Really boss stuff, and perhaps the most violent application of justice as cathartic release seen at least until the advent of MR. A. in the late-sixties. And yeah, I know that all might seem hopeless especially when the killers turn out to be the small-town DA and deputy who really work over Hammer to the point where anybody else'd die, but at least you know that all's gonna turn out fine in the end when Hammer kills the badskis and you feel good about it for once in your frustrated life!

Can't find a bad thing about this 'un from the great supporting cast to the tension-packed scripts to McGavin himself who makes me feel glad to be a male in these women's lib asexual times. Gotta get the other 25 into my life soon because like, this is what the concept of manhood, if not mankind (forget that neutering "humankind" crap we've been inundated with in yet another attempt to castrate the driving force of civilization!) comes from. And hey, if Chairman Mao really said "love comes from the barrel of a gun" then Mike Hammer must've been the most loving human being on the face of this earth and I do mean it!
IN OTHER NOT-SO-LATE BREAKING NEWS: Hey, they got Osama!!! Yay!!! Whoopee!!! Yawn... Tell you what, let's jet forward a good ten years and see if it really makes any difference! Well, maybe it does feel good in a quick, visceral sorta way for you, but I'm all but jubilant at this time.

Rather'n wait until the weekend to clue you in, here's yet another Jim Goad piece I know you can't live without. Its things like this that really give me the lumps so-to-speak to get up and face your ugly world sans the cringe that I usually have to live with these days! Only goes to show you that there are still some real people out there who have their non-corrupted heads on straight, unlike a good portion of you readers who seem to surrender to everything as long as it screws up people like myself beyond recognition! (And no, this article ain't even remotely "neocon"...don't any of you even think it like I know you will!)

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