All up on the YouTube. Very good resolution; highly entertaining.
A Mike Hammer movie from 1957, and much, much better than I would have expected it to be. Robert Bray as Mike Hammer, and he makes a very good job of it, too.
This is a Hollywood cheapie. I’d never heard of any of the actors, and the sets were all smooth and simple, filled with stock furniture. All of the surfaces looked as though they had been scrubbed of detail.
The narrative, however, was in “drive” for the whole ninety-five minutes or so, full throttle, and linear and coherent. The acting, by this crew of also-rans, was generally more than adequate, professional, even. And often better than that.
The movie takes place in the Los Angeles of long ago. There’s a great sequence of a long “follow” on the L.A. freeway system. It would be too grand to call it a chase. Both the object car and the following car are in the frame of every shot, and there are many shots. It shows freeways all the way from Pasadena to Long Beach, lots of freeways but never that many cars. Look! There’s a ’49 Mercury! Stock! Wow! There’s a ’55 Studebaker! With front end damage! Hey! There’s a Volkswagen Beetle! Must be one of the first!
It’s a Noir Film, so there are not many sympathetic characters. Such as there are get mostly killed. The story is pretty good, even if it is as buffed of detail as the cheap sets are.
The women are first rate. That much is true. Genie Coree (as Genie Core), probably a Filipina, is just beautiful as an exotic dancer named Maria Teresa Garcia. She dies, and then moves after she is dead in a bathtub. Whitney Blake plays Nancy, who turns out to be the real villain of the piece. (Forgive me if I don’t worry about spoilers. No amount of foreknowledge could ruin a movie like this anyway.) Patricia Donahue plays a minor bad guy named Dionne. And the least screen time of all goes to the most sympathetic character in the movie, Jan Chaney playing Red, the unfortunate streetwalker who is given a worthless ring by a stooge, setting off the entire sequence of events.
Did I forget Pamela Duncan as Mike Hammer’s secretary, Velda? She’s a cantilevered cutie.
The old days look so stripped down and downright simple by now, don’t they? There are a lot of scenes down on the docks on Long Beach. Cargo ships look like such cute little things. The dockside cranes look like toys. We’ve certainly gone big time in the last fifty years. One could be forgiven to wonder what the next fifty years will bring.
The most fun of all was the French gang, who will do anything at all to get the jewels except use their brains even once. They all get killed after making a mess of every single thing that they tried to do. They wear berets, if you can believe it, and the even wear striped undershirts. With cigarettes hanging off of their lips! Like a bunch of fucking Apache Dancers! It’s amazing! But those were simpler times.
I’d recommend this movie wholeheartedly to anyone at all. It’s free; it’s over quickly; it’s more than mildly entertaining; and you won’t regret having watched it.