From Wikipedia I learn this is from the second of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series. It’s My Gun is Quick, released in 1957 from United Artists, and it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Here is the cast of characters:
- Robert Bray as Mike Hammer
- Whitney Blake as Nancy Williams
- Donald Randolph as Colonel Holloway
- Jan Chaney as ‘Red’
- Gina Core as Maria Teresa Garcia
- Pamela Duncan as Velda, Hammer’s secretary
- Booth Colman as Det. Pat Chambers
It takes a while, but we figure out the locale is Los Angeles, California. The first hint is Red, a woman Mike Hammer meets at an all-night diner. She has come “out here” seeking stardom. “Out here” has always meant California, especially Los Angeles.
Anyhow, she is out of work and out of luck, and Mike buys her some lunch and advances bus fare back home. A man comes into the diner and threatens her. Mike makes do with the jerk, and the woman goes on her way, never to be seen again.
But Mike notices an interesting ring on the woman’s hand. When her body is discovered, victim of a hit and run “accident,” the ring is missing. Mike decides to investigate.
He discusses the case with his friend, Detective Pat Chambers. We learn Mike spent some time in the South Pacific during the war. We also notice everybody is smoking cigarettes. Those were the days.
Mike and Pat discuss the ring. He has the file on it. It was in a bunch of Nazi loot pilfered by an American Army colonel named Holloway. There is a spread in Life magazine about the collection.
Mike shakes down the guy who runs the diner and learns he needs to contact Maria, who performs at The Blue Bell, a night spot. Mike catches her act as she charms customers by taking off her clothing.
Maria introduces Mike to Jean, a French ex-pat who knows about the caper. He promises to meet Mike at ten o’clock. We know how this works in crime mysteries. By ten o’clock Jean will be dead.
And he is. But Mike notices the tough guy from scene one fleeing the scene. He follows, and we get a preview of the now famous Los Angeles freeway system beginning to take form 60 years ago. There is a slow-speed chase that chews up about five minutes worth of film. It is a nice tour, however.
The chase ends at the home of blond and beautiful Nancy Williams. Tough Guy is her butler, soon fired. She tells her story of two marriages and her time in Europe.
For reasons not explained, Mike and Nancy take a boat ride. When they return Nancy’s place has been tossed by somebody looking for something. We learn that while Nancy was in Europe several people rented her home. One of them was Colonel Williams. Most interesting. Maybe the jewels were hidden in the house.
Some French ex-pats make a getaway in a boat, but after Mike gets clubbed by a one-handed boatman.
Back to The Blue Bell, and Mike meets Colonel Holloway, from a ten-year stretch for the jewel caper. He has served time for the jewels, and he wants them back. The blond thing on his left arm offers Mike a key to her apartment. When Mike arrives the colonel is there, as well. He will give Mike 25% for his assistance in getting the jewels.
For about the second or third time in the movie Mike gets beat up, and he goes to Nancy’s place. She fixes him a drink, adding a little something.
By the time Mike wakes up Maria is dead. We learn a diamond cutter from Amsterdam is arriving by boat. Here he clears immigration.
He exits immigration by a strange route. Instead of heading out to a bus stop or a taxi stand, he wanders through a scrap yard run by some French ex-pats. One operates a crane and prepares to drop a ton of scrap on Mike’s head.
Of course Mike dodges that, and he learns the police are looking for him. He sneaks to Nancy’s house and observes through the window. The fired butler is there and dead, and so is the diamond cutter.
Mike and the colonel chase the French hoodlums, and there is a massive gunfight at the marina. Several are killed, and Mike has it out with the hook-handed one, who falls on the hook and dies. The colonel dies of a gunshot wound, but only after holding the jewels for a brief moment.
Nancy picks up Mike in her boat, and she wants Mike to take her and the jewels to Mexico. Mike refuses, citing a moral compass. She pulls a gun. Mike pulls the age-old trick of revving the engine, causing her to fall and lose the gun. He tosses it over the side, and they head back to shore and to justice for Nancy.
Mickey Spillane was not noted for his brilliant style. Some dialog from the book. Mike meets Red.
“What’s your name, mister?”
“Mike. Mike Hammer. Native-born son of ye old city presently at loose ends and dead tired. Free, white, and over twenty-one. That do it?”
“Well, what do you know! Here I’ve been thinking all males were named Smith or Jones. What happened?”
“No wife to report to, kid,” I grinned. “That tag’s my own. What do they call you besides Red?”
Spillane, Mickey. My Gun Is Quick (pp. 4-5). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The movie dialog is a shade down from that. Mike converses with Detective Chambers.
Chambers: Fine company you keep.
Mike: Oh, damn it, Pat. She was all right. She wasn’t after me.
Imagine what Herman Melville could have done with those lines.
And the plot has some screws loose. Nancy lived in the house all that time, and she never found the jewels, though she suspected they were there. She needs Mike to drive her boat for her, but she comes to pick him up after the fight at the marina, driving the boat. Her ultimate plan is to flee to Mexico, forgetting the Mexicans will deport her back and possibly keep the jewels. Colonel Williams was in the slam for ten years, waiting to get out and go for the jewels. The French gang beats him to them by two days. Some coincidence.
The movie is not the book. The book is set in New York, and it’s not about stolen jewels. It’s about a prostitution ring, and I promise a future review. You can also catch the movie on YouTube.