Beautiful, Blue and Deadly (1958)

Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: TV series (1958-1960)
United States
Director: Boris Sagal
Starring: Darren McGavin, Nita Talbot, Bart Burns, Robert Ellenstein, Tom Brown, Berry Kroeger

This incarnation of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer television series, ran for 78 episodes from 1958 till 1960. Of course, Stacey Keach starred in a series of the same name that ran from 1984 till 1985. This particular episode was the fourteenth in the series. With that kind of longevity, it must have been pretty popular in it’s day. If all the episodes were as solid and witty as this, then I don’t know why it’s not out there as a complete series on DVD. But hey, that’s not my decision. The blurb of the one video I have found extols the virtues of the series:

“This private-eye series was every bit as violent as the novels that made Mickey Spillane famous…

A typical plot had a man and woman thrown down a flight of stairs, a brutal fist fight, a knifing and a shooting, plus Hammer making what appeared to be a highly successful pass at a married woman…”

With a write up like that, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the series (or more correctly — to any episodes that I can find). This episode opens at Aikens Garage. Johnny Aikens is a fine mechanic (or so the voice over tells us). Mike Hammer (Darren McGavin) always takes his car to Aikens Garage for repairs.

As Aikens and Hammer are old friends, they spend a bit of time chatting in the office. Aikens says how he is keen to get his hands on a 1956 sports model Jag. The previous day, a gentleman called Arthur Phister came to the garage and said he would pay top money for a car that was exactly as he wanted. That is a baby blue 1956 sports model Jag, with white wall tyres, and a rear tyre rack.

At that moment a dame, Susan Reed (Nita Talbot) drives into the garage, driving just such a vehicle, and wishing to sell. Aikens cannot believe his luck.

Now Hammer has been around the block a few times and knows all the confidence tricks. He’s seen this one before. He quickly realises that Susan and Phister are working together. They have figured that if Aikens believed he had a buyer who was ready and waiting, he bump up the price he’d pay. But they haven’t counted on Hammer’s intervention.

Oh well, their scheme had failed, but Susan needs to sell the car. You see, she was just widowed a few weeks previously, and she needs the dividend from the vehicle’s sale to simply get by.

After the sale is complete Aikens and Hammer check the car over. They are surprised to find blood stains on the floor and a couple of bullet holes in the back seat. Hammer doesn’t waste any time and calls in his best friend Pat Chamber (Bart Burns).

Chambers arrives and examines the car, but it doesn’t require much examining. It had been impounded for the last four weeks after Harry Reed – Susan’s dead husband – had been shot after returning home one evening. The car had been returned to Susan the previous day, and it is perfectly legal for her to sell it. No mystery so far, so Hammer leaves the garage, but promises to return later in the day to collect his car.

Meanwhile Oliver Lynch, Harry Reed’s silent partner has tracked down Susan. He wants the car. As she doesn’t have it any more, she points him in the direction of the garage.

Lynch arrives at the garage an claims to be a friend and wants to buy the car. Aikens shows him the vehicle, but then is distracted by a phone call. Left alone Lynch starts tearing the car apart, frantically searching for something hidden inside. Aikens finishes the call, and returns to Lynch. He is dismayed to see the damage Lynch is doing and tries to prevent it. For his trouble, Lynch hits him over the back of the head with a monkey wrench.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The episode has a few more good wisecracks, a couple of shootouts, and two fist fights – all this squeezed inside a thirty minute package.

As I mentioned at the top, I don’t know if all the episodes are like this, but if they are, then if you are a Mike Hammer fan, this series is one that is worth checking out.

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