Tuesday, July 25, 2006

MICKEY SPILLANE’S MIKE HAMMER DOUBLE FEATURE

Sony has recently released a MICKEY SPILLANE’S MIKE HAMMER DOUBLE FEATURE of the first two Mike Hammer movies starring Stacy Keach from the Eighties – MURDER ME, MURDER YOU (1983) and MORE THAN MURDER (1984).

MURDER ME, MURDER YOU was Keach’s first Hammer telefilm, and it’s pretty decent, with a twisty plot revolving around a dead international courier, a briefcase of money and Hammer’s illegitimate 20-year-old daughter. The cast is quite good for a TV movie of the era, and the direction is solid. Personally, I very much enjoy Stacy Keach as an actor, and as Mike Hammer in particular. His affection for the role comes through clearly, and he’s always perfectly in character. It may not be quite the Hammer of the books, but I’ve always separated the TV version from the book version anyway (kinda like James Bond books/movies), and appreciate them both. Tanya Roberts plays Hammer’s secretary Velda in this movie, and I think she’s the actress who most resembles my vision of the character from the books. She even carries a gun and saves Mike’s ass in one scene.

The sequel, MORE THAN MURDER, is better than the first film, and it’s the one that really laid the groundwork for the three(!) Keach/Hammer TV series that followed. The plot is almost too convoluted, but boils down to someone shooting Hammer’s cop pal Pat Chambers (Don Stroud) in the back and framing him with a kilo of cocaine. Hammer sets out to clear his buddy’s name and find out who shot him.

A lot of the series’ gimmicks first appear here: the "mystery woman" that Hammer keeps catching glimpses of, the "I’ll make a note," comeback, etc. Lindsey Bloom plays Velda here (as she did in the two 80s series) and while she’s a lovely lady, she’s just a little too "nice" for the role. Keach really defines his portrayal of the character in this one.

Sony surprised me, and presented these films on two single-sided, double-layered discs, each packaged in its own slimcase. I thought for sure they’d issue ‘em as a single "flipper" disc. Glad I was wrong.

No frills, no extras, just clear, clean full-frame 1:33.1 transfers and Dolby stereo sound. I hope this set sells well and Sony ends up releasing the subsequent 80s TV shows.

BUY: Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer - Double Feature (More Than Murder / Murder Me, Murder You)