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THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

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Dewey1960
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THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby Dewey1960 » May 3rd, 2011, 10:29 am

THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963), which airs this Friday night on TCM is a unique opportunity to see Mickey Spillane, the notorious best-selling author of dozens of savage mystery novels featuring his violence prone private-eye hero Mike Hammer, actually playing the part of Hammer—and doing an interesting job of it. But watching Spillane act is only a small portion of the rewards awaiting you in this late-model, wide-screen, monochrome throwback to roughly a decade or two earlier. THE GIRL HUNTERS is a moody treatise on cold war politics and early 60s sexual mores, a pair of subtexts common to much of Spillane’s work. Here Hammer is up against Commies and crooks and the puzzling disappearance of his sexy secretary. It’s all done in a fairly straightforward way; director Roy Rowland (WITNESS TO MURDER, ROGUE COP, etc) was no slouch in creating a noir mood, and that’s what drives this odd film.
A good deal of it was shot in England (at least the interiors; the harsh and dark NYC exterior shots mix nicely) and much of the supporting cast is British. Shirley Eaton, Lloyd Nolan, and columnist Hy Gardner have featured roles. Philip Green’s melancholy score lingers in the ear. Definitely an interesting and worthwhile film. Highly recommended if you relax your standards going into it.

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 3rd, 2011, 11:57 pm

Very cool, Mr. D. I was going to record this anyway, but your review has me even more interested. Standards? What standards?! :wink:

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ChiO
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Re: THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby ChiO » May 4th, 2011, 6:05 am

I, too, planned on recording this...how can one not record Roy Rowland directing Mickey Spillane? But now that you've brought relaxed standards into it, I don't know. If all of my relaxed standards are used now, what'll I have in two weeks when I wake up dreaming at that S.F. moviehouse?
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Dewey1960
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Re: THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby Dewey1960 » May 5th, 2011, 10:00 am

THE GIRL HUNTERS is a far better film than its middling reputation would indicate. Many point to the awkward central performance of Mickey Spillane as the film's chief flaw, but for me it's one of the film's greatest strengths. A very moody, interesting film.
ARK: You and I both know that your standards are above reproach, especially in the realm of noir.
ChiO: This year, as a special service to Roxie-goers, we will be requesting that all Standards be checked at the door!

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ChiO
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Re: THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby ChiO » May 8th, 2011, 7:27 am

Dear Professor Dewey,

I recorded and I watched. One question: Which standards should I have relaxed?

Acceptance of the mundane? An affinity for the over-produced? Seeing this helps me better understand why Spillane hated KISS ME DEADLY. Yes, Mickey Spillane is Mike Hammer. And he hates Commies and punks, and loves a drink and a good rear view...while sounding like a cross between Robert DeNiro and Louis Prima over a jazzy trumpet-led score. There is everything to love and very little to dislike (even Hy Averbeck worked for me). With hard-boiled dialogue, efficient and moody direction, this is another of those '60s movies -- BLAST OF SILENCE, UNDERWOLD U.S.A., CAPE FEAR, EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, SHOCK CORRIDOR, THE NAKED KISS, BRAINSTORM, POINT BLANK -- that challenges the misguided notion that noir somehow ended in 1958 or 1959, only to reappear as something called neo-noir in 1974.

Mike. Mike!

So long, baby.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Dewey1960
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Re: THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby Dewey1960 » May 8th, 2011, 2:10 pm

sez ChiO: I recorded and I watched. One question: Which standards should I have relaxed?
Acceptance of the mundane? An affinity for the over-produced?


Well, yes to both. It's amazing to me why so many noir fans dismiss THE GIRL HUNTERS so derisively. Which is why, I guess, I will often qualify my recommendation of certain noirs (like this one) on the grounds that they might not conform to the predetermined notions some people maintain are crucial to their enjoyment of them.
And it makes complete sense that Spillane hated KISS ME DEADLY; the screenplay was written by one of the most adamantly left-wing figures of his time (A. I. Bezzerides) and directed by the similarly left-leaning Robert Aldrich. Between the two of them they completely subverted the meaning of Spillane's novel and transformed it into something completely different. THE GIRL HUNTERS, for better or worse, retains the militantly right-wing position of its author/star, perhaps to the point of audience alienation. Regardless, it's a film that deserves better than it's gotten.
I also agree with your linking the film to the ones you mentioned; tremendously interesting films were produced all through the 1960s, in color and black & white that brilliantly promoted and extended the noir ethos. The examples you present are certainly among the most significant. Glad you liked it; I was virtually certain that you would.

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Re: THE GIRL HUNTERS (1963) on TCM May 6

Postby MichiganJ » May 12th, 2011, 3:22 pm

Finally had a chance to see this and I'll confess that I was a bit confused by the plot. A lot of names and a lot of dots to connect, which just means repeated viewings are a must.

Spillane is very convincing as Hammer, especially as the film progresses and you get familiar with his dry cadence and mannerisms. The final fight did allow us to see how Spillane came up with his hero's name, Hammer. (Wasn't expecting that.)

I also really liked Shirley Eaton. I think I'd only ever seen her in Goldfinger before. Seen a lot more of her now.
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