THE GIRL HUNTERS. Colorama Features, 1963. Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), Shirley Eaton, Scott Peters, Guy Kingsley Poynter, James Dyrenforth, Charles Farrell, Kim Tracy, Hy Gardner, Lloyd Nolan. Based on the novel by Mickey Spillane. Director: Roy Rowland.


   A film with credentials is The Girl Hunters, directed by Roy Rowland and co-written by Mickey Spillane who also portrays his own creation, Mike Hammer.

   Casting-wise, this is just about plu-perfect. The ideal actor in a part that was (subconsciously, at least) written just for him, even by him. It’s like Onan Meets Pygmalion, and the fact that the rest of the film is somewhat routine cannot dim the brilliance of this concept.

   For the record, The Girl Hunters deals with Mickey/Mike’s search for his missing-presumed-dead Girl Friday Velma, who disappeared years ago, turning the once-tough PI into a gutter-drunk . Which is where the story opens.


   Two minutes later, M/M gets a clue that Velma may still be alive and he’s the Old Hammer once more. Clean and sober now (if still a little reminiscent of Thomas Hobbes’ description of Life — nasty, brutish and short), M/M becomes a trenchcoated juggernaut, mowing through the legions of cheap punks, commie spies and panting dames who beset his path.

   Like I say, this is all fairly routine stuff for anyone familiar with Spillane: there’s a helpful but handcuffed-by-the-law G-Man (played by Lloyd Nolan, still smooth and professional 20 years after his days as a B-movie PI but looking a bit bored), a helpful but nerdy plot-device newsman Hy Gardner, always there with information to move the story along, and helpful but slightly-suspect Black Widow Shirley Eaton, whose crusading anti-communist husband was killed by a burglar who didn’t set off the alarm while riffling the safe with the Government Secrets, and if you can`t pick the Killer out of this lineup you just don’t know your Spillane.

   In terms of execution, it’s all a little bland, but the acting is surprisingly not-awful. Surrounded by consummate professionals, Spillane lives up to the thesping around him, looking very relaxed and convincing, and while I wouldn’t care to see him play King Lear, I have to say that he delivers his lines well … which, since he wrote them, may be less surprising than I thought.