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Here Comes The Hammer – Warner Brothers & The Mickey Spillane Series
I’m trying to figure out whether it is a sad statement about me, my reading habits, or the times in which I was raised, that the mention of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series only harkens me back as far the Sledge Hammer! TV series of the 1980′s. That fine program (together with Doctor! Doctor! forming the best duo of short lived sitcoms with exclamation points in the whole history of television) lifted liberally from both the mannerisms of the Spillane character and the spoof-all stylings of Police Squad! while maintaining a voice of its own, for 41 episodes. I’m not willing to shoulder the responsibility for Spillane deciding to name what would become his best-known tough-guy character “Hammer” in 1947. It probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but the moniker bears near-pornographic connotations today. Still, there’s no reason for you to not take a half hour to absorb the delightful pilot episode of Sledge Hammer! this very minute.
That said, if you asked the average passerby on the streets today to tell you who Mike Hammer is, it seems pretty unlikely, at least to me, that you are going to yield a lot of correct answers. I can tell you that the series bears no relevance my miserable, sarcastic generation, nor the dopey, dough-eyed generation of sissies that immediately followed. I am doubtful that more than half of even my mother’s groggy, self-obsessed generation has much of a sense of the pulp-literary phenomenon that was the Mike Hammer series, in spite of the yeoman’s efforts of Max Allan Collins and the Spillane estate.
So I guess I find the idea of a Mike Hammer movie, or series of movies, to be a bit on the questionable side. Is there a clamoring out there for more cop movies? Namely, cop movies with one foot stuck in the fictional 1940s? I feel like there isn’t. But since the powers-that-be at Warner Brothers didn’t seek out my opinion (for like, the umpteenth consecutive time), it appears that the American moviegoing public may have a new series of hardboiled tough-guy flicks to shrug its collective shoulders at in the very near future, as the studio has gone ahead and purchased the rights to the entire Hammer canon. If they were to follow the blueprint of Spillane himself, the first film in the series would be I, The Jury, and would likely not star Armand Assante in the lead.
Nor would it be in German, nor would it be apparently horrible. Nor would it be this:
According to Deadline, Warner has already brought in a number of “A-list” screenwriters who have pitched versions of the initial project that would take place either in its native time period, or in present day. There is no word yet of a pitch for a Mike Hammer film series that takes place on the Great Plains in the early 19th Century, or a Mike Hammer space opera set in a distant future against a golden sky filled with baroque dirigibles.
Of course at this early stage, any possibility is as likely as any other, including the possibility of the whole shebang getting shelved if somebody of a big-time nature doesn’t attach him/herself to the project but quick. This is that compulsory point at which we speculate as to whom might be a nice fit.
So you go ahead and do that while I watch that Sledge Hammer! pilot and I’ll meet you back here in a minute.
Okay fine, I’ll play.
This is just the type of thing that could devolve quickly into a piece of gritty action schmaltz, so you’d probably have to put Denzel Washington’s name atop the early list of candidates. It could also be outsized into some type of pretentious thinkpiece, so you could just as easily throw George Clooney’s name into the mix. Or if you want to go the complete opposite direction, say, maybe something a little faster or more furious, I’m sure Vin Diesel would make himself available.
Of course, if everything goes completely wrong you could always snag Michael Chiklis on the cheap. That is if you can get him to take a break from Vegas and the incessant plugging of his touring garage band, MCB.
In the meantime, the Hammer swings, and the world waits. Or whatever.