Mike Hammer  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Mike Hammer is a fictional character created by the American author Mickey Spillane in the 1947 book I, the Jury (made into a movie in 1953 and 1982). Several movies and radio and television series have been based on the books in the Hammer series. The actor most closely identified with the character in recent years has been Stacy Keach, who portrayed Hammer in a CBS television series, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, which ran from 1984–1987 and had a syndicated revival in 1997–1998. (An earlier syndicated version, originally aired in 1957–1958, starred Darren McGavin as Hammer.) Spillane himself played Hammer in a 1963 motion picture adaptation of The Girl Hunters. Spillane himself favoured ex-Marine and former Newburgh, New York police officer Jack Stang, whom he based the character on, to play him. Stang appeared with Spillane in the 1954 film Ring of Fear and in the film adaptation of I, the Jury.

While pulp detectives such as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe are hard-boiled and cynical, Hammer is in many ways the archetypal "hard man:" he is brutally violent, misogynistic, and fueled by a genuine rage that never afflicts Raymond Chandler's or Dashiell Hammett's heroes. While other hardboiled heroes bend and manipulate the law, Hammer holds it in total contempt, seeing it as nothing more than an impediment to justice, the one virtue he holds in absolute esteem.

Mike Hammer is a no-holds barred Private Investigator that carries a .45 Colt M1911, named "Betsy" in a shoulder harness under his left arm. His love for his secretary Velda is only outweighed by his willingness to kill a killer. Hammer's best friend is Pat Chambers, Captain of Homicide NYPD.

Hammer is also patriotic and anti-communist. The novels are peppered with remarks by Hammer supporting American troops in Korea, and in Survival...Zero Vietnam. In One Lonely Night, where Hammer attends a communist meeting in a park, his reaction to the speaker's propaganda is a sarcastic "Yeah."

So far as violence is concerned, the Hammer novels leave little to the imagination. Written in the first person, Hammer describes his violent encounters with relish. In all but a few novels, Hammer's victims are often left vomiting after a blow to the stomach or groin.

The Washington Times obituary of Spillane said of Hammer, "In a manner similar to Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry, Hammer was a cynical loner contemptuous of the "tedious process" of the legal system, choosing instead to enforce the law on his own terms."


Mike Hammer Novels




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mike Hammer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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