Girl Hunters (1963)

Girl Hunters (1963)

“You know too much, Mr. Hammer.”

Responding to a favor from Police Captain Pat Chambers (Scott Peters), private eye Mike Hammer (Mickey Spillane) sobers up long enough to interrogate a dying sailor (Murray Kash) shot by the same gun used to kill a senator whose sexy widow (Shirley Eaton) seduces Hammer.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cold War
  • Detectives and Private Eyes

American pulp crime author Mickey Spillane got to star as his own fictional creation in this adaptation of his 1962 novel. Spillane’s lack of acting chops is obvious, but doesn’t get in the way of him fully inhabiting his alter ago. As Craig Butler writes in his review for All Movie Guide, Spillane “is an ideal choice for Hammer. He can’t act, and his attempts can be excruciating… But Spillane doesn’t care; he believes that he is Hammer, and that unshakeable belief makes his performance work, despite how bad it is.”

Butler’s review is worth citing at greater length, given his apt description of this truly odd cinematic outing:

The Girl Hunters is a strange, often bizarre, film, one that some will find fascinating and others will find ludicrous, and they will both be right. What both camps are responding to is the intensity of the film, which is undeniable… It’s a film driven by an almost unrelieved combination of adrenaline and testosterone, and as such, it has little room for niceties like good acting, believable dialogue, or coherent plotting.

Indeed, you’ll find it challenging to follow exactly what’s going on, other than knowing Hammer is looking for his missing secretary Verna (presumed dead), and that Cold War spies are somehow involved. Unfortunately, Philip Green’s intrusive score doesn’t fit, and is often distracting; however, Eaton — a year before her iconic role in Goldfinger (1964) — is perfectly cast as a seductive widow:

… Lloyd Nolan is excellent as a federal agent supporting Hammer:

… and good use is made of location shooting in NYC.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Kenneth Talbot’s cinematography

  • Plenty of pulpy dialogue:

    “I’ve been shot before.”
    “Yeah, but you haven’t been dead before.”

    “We covered that angle like a tent.”

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a look as a curio, and obviously must-see for Spillane fans. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Girl Hunters (1963)

  1. Not must-see, but not bad for a film of its type. As per my 1/31/21 post in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):

    “There’s a killer loose, and she’s on the list.”

    ‘The Girl Hunters’: Mickey Spillane’s kick-ass PI Mike Hammer had, by this time (1963), already been inhabited by several other guys – most memorably, of course, by Ralph Meeker in ‘Kiss Me Deadly’. But, this time out, versatile director Roy Rowland (‘Our Vines Have Tender Grapes’, ‘Scandal’, ‘The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T’) decided to cast Spillane himself. True, Spillane was not as macho-suave or as sexy as Meeker – and he clearly never had an acting lesson but he’s still not bad. He has the feel of someone at the end of miles and miles of rough and rocky road, simultaneously capable of being a shameless flirt (To a nurse: “Your lips still wet?”).

    What starts out as a garden-variety detective yarn soon gathers a bread crumb trail of dead bodies and the viewer’s brain is constantly teased by what the connection between the corpses could possibly be. The links seem remote – until they lead to an ambitious source that’s downright wacky.

    This is all about as noir as noir gets and there’s a surplus of tough guy talk, i.e.:
    “I’ve been shot before.”
    ‘Yeah, but you haven’t been dead before.”

    Spillane is given solid support by character actor Lloyd Nolan as well as Shirley Eaton, one year before she was completely spray-painted for ‘Goldfinger’. The penultimate sequence is a doozy of a showdown – and the final scene is a zinger!

Leave a Reply