Another casting disaster as Robert Bray is all wrong for Mike Hammer. The only movie to do credit to Mickey Spillane’s creation is the legendary 1955 movie “Kiss Me Deadly” with Ralph Meeker. Hammer fans should also check out Darren McGavin in the TV series (1956-59). This movie borders on okay but Bray’s unconvincing tough guy sinks it.
Mike goes into a hash joint to call his secretary Velda (Pamela Duncan) to complain about how tired he is. At the counter is Red. She has holes in her shoes and now a man coming in to hassle her. Mike slugs him and puts his gun under his chin. That encourages him to leave. Mike takes pity on Red and gives her money to take a bus back home. She’s wearing a big ring that’s too tight and can’t be taken off her finger.
Back at the office Mike finds out from his police pal. Captain Pat Chambers (Booth Colman) that Red has been killed in a hit and run accident. Mike knows its murder when he finds out the ring is missing. He describes it to Pat who goes to his files and brings out its picture.
The ring is part of the Venacci collection that was stolen at the end of world war two by U.S. Colonel Holloway. The French and American governments caught up with him and he served ten years.
Mike finds out that Red used to work in a strip joint called the Bluebell. Her friend Maria does an act there. Mike writes a big note on a menu that Red was murdered and shows it to Maria while she’s taking it all off. She takes him to where they live and they go into Red’s apartment. It’s been torn up.
Maria says the ring was a present from a Frenchman, Jean, a mute who works at the club. Jean writes down that he has something to show Mike and Maria at his place in a couple hours. When Mike gets there Jean is on the sidewalk after falling out a window. Mike spots Louis running from the scene. He’s the same guy who he worked over when he was bothering Red.
A long car chase leads Mike to the seaside home of Nancy Williams (Whitney Blake). He talks to her outside and then a man runs out of the house. Mike chases him but another man in a boat crowns him and the two get away. Back inside the house Nancy shows Mike the ring. It’s on the floor.
They jump in her boat and look for the two men who took off after knocking Mike down. They’re gone. Mike and Nancy try and figure out how the ring got there. She says while she was in Europe a real estate agency rented her place. Mike calls Velda and tells her to find out who the renters were. Turns out one of the tenants was Holloway. Velda also found an old Life magazine with the Venacci jewels on the cover.
As to why Mike was led to Nancy’s house, it turn out the man he was chasing is her butler Louis. Nancy fires him.
At the Bluebell Mike sees a drunk with two babes. He gets the key to one of their motel rooms. When he gets there he finds out the drunk was Holloway. He says he left the jewels with Jean who in turn gave the ring to Red. He says a French gangster named La Roche is also after the jewels.
Mike goes back to Maria’s place and ends up getting worked over by La Roche and two of his gang. Mike returns to Nancy’s and she slips him a sedative and he’s out for ten hours. She tells him she thought he needed to recover. Now he finds out Maria has been murdered and Holloway tells him a Dutch diamond cutter is on his way into town.
Mike tries to get Teller at the docks but is almost crowned by a load of scrap metal. Back in the car his police scanner is on and he hears a pickup order on him regarding some action at Nancy’s house.
There are a few suspenseful moments to come but not enough to save the overall production. Bray isn’t as bad as Biff Elliot in “I,The Jury”, the first Mike Hammer movie from 1953, but still doesn’t come close to getting it right.
TV fans know Robert Bray as Corey Stuart on “Lassie” (1964-68).
Sitcom fans know Whitney Blake as Dorothy Baxter on “Hazel” (1961-65).