A Moody and Atmospheric Dive Into the World of Mike Hammer.
DIRECTED BY VICTOR SAVILLE & GEORGE WHITE / 1957
BLU-RAY STREET DATE MARCH 24, 2020
KINO LORBER STUDIO CLASSICS
I knew this blu-ray would be trouble the moment I opened the mailer it came in. Staring at me from the cover was what appeared to be a button man about to put some daylight in another poor egg. The killer looked like he was auditioning for some off-off-Broadway production of Peter Pan, what with his hook hand. Meanwhile, over in the other corner, some dame and another sap were pitching woo so hard, the guy forgot he was packing heat. I tell you, this blu-ray cover promised a movie so hard-boiled, you could make egg-salad out of it. There was more pulp here than in 200 acres of old growth forest. And brother, take it from an old palooka like me, that’s a lot of pulp.
My Gun is Quick is based on a Mickey Spillane novel from 1950. Robert Bray stars as Spillane’s famous gumshoe Mike Hammer. Hammer, just getting off a case that’s kept him going for several days straight, stops off in a diner to grab a bite to eat before heading home and to bed. There, he meets a young woman who seems to be in a spot of trouble. Hammer chases off the thug who accosts her and gives the woman some money to buy a bus ticket back home. When he later finds out the woman has been murdered, Hammer decides his rest can wait as he vows to find the killer.
His investigations lead him into the orbit of Nancy Williams, a widow who has recently moved back to Los Angeles from Europe. Hammer has to discover what her connection is to the murder, and how a cache of stolen Nazi jewels figure into the affair. Will he let his emotions blind him to danger?
For fans of the hardboiled detective genre, My Gun is Quick should prove a quick and enjoyable watch. All the requisite elements are present. There’s plenty of sex, violence and danger (at least as much as is allowed by 1957’s production code standards). Bray makes for a suitably tough and chiseled detective, and Whitney Blake as Nancy makes you believe she’s someone Hammer could fall for, while never being able to be sure about her motives.
For fans of the hardboiled detective genre, My Gun is Quick should prove a quick and enjoyable watch
Still, that’s about all the movie has to offer. Deeper insights into the human condition, or how they relate to one another, or deconstructions of genre will have to wait for another movie. My Gun is Quick is a simple, straightforward affair. The story has a few twists and surprises in it, but there’s ultimately not a lot of meat on its bones. It’s the sort of story that wouldn’t be out of place as a ‘case of the week’ on a TV show from just a few years later.
If there’s one thing the movie does get right, it’s mood. The opening shots feature a lonely man walking the streets of the big city, overlaid by a percussive jazz score. It’s the sorts of sights and sounds one instant recognizes as belonging to the detective genre. My Gun is Quick drips with that kind of ambience, even when the action moves to Nancy’s comfortable sea-side home. There are hoods, and broads, and toughs, and low-lifes, and secrets everywhere.
My Gun is Quick was the second of two “Mike Hammer” movies produced by Parklane Pictures and distributed by Universal. The first was the much more famous and better-made Kiss Me Deadly, from 1955. If you haven’t seen Kiss Me, take care of that immediately. If you have, and still need a Mike Hammer fix, My Gun is Quick will do just fine as a chaser.
Kino Lorber’s blu-ray release is presented in glorious black and white, 1080p and an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It’s got English subtitles and the usual collection of related trailers.