My comments concern the production and actors, or their characters, in lower-budget, nearly forgotten, American movies which have not totally held up well over time. My conversational writing style will include details which I find interesting, odd or funny. Generally, plots are not revealed, only how the characters fit into the plot or how they equate with real life as opposed to Hollywood's thinking.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
MY GUN IS QUICK (1957)
It has long been suggested
there one thing you do not discuss with your friends. Politics. There is a second. Do not discuss who was the best at portraying Mike Hammer. If
you acknowledge and accept this B-movie version, Robert Bray does a
decent job and generally looks formidable, toned and fit in a tee
shirt. The action is limited with Bray becoming the punchee more
often than not with this script. The bold sans serif lowercase
opening title credits gives the impression the film is not only
breaking all grammatical rules but that Bray will be breaking
procedural rules as well. It was a trendy designer’s touch during
this period. Overall, not a bad effort but seems longer than its ninety-one minutes.
Under those trendy titles,
we have Bray wearily walking by storefronts at night, exhausted from
two days without sleep. The makeup for his two-day facial hair growth
is dark and oily. Not a stubble to be found, however. He tries later
to convince you it really is a beard with a nifty electric razor he
keeps in his office. A practice that had a limited run. Stopping in a
diner, he meets a young woman, Jan Chaney in her only movie role, fresh from the Midwest who has been
trying to make survival money any way she can. For shame. Bray
notices she is wearing a unique ring which he later learns is part
of a famous jewel collection smuggled out of Nazi Germany during
World War II. How about that?!
From his Ford Fairlane
convertible, Bray tails a suspect in two murders centered around the
jewel collection. It is a long film-reel-eating sequence but the ride
is authentic enough with in-car camera and location shoots. Still,
budget dictates the usual studio prop cars with back-scrim footage.
The suspect disappears at Whitney Blake’s beachside home. The
suspect is confronted by Bray and Blake. Words are exchanged. She
fires her butler on the spot. It is a scene that seems to have little
consequence to the story at that point. With that stressful situation
behind her, she asks Bray if he can handle a boat. He says, “I can
handle anything.” Do tell. While on the open water we hear the sob
story of Blake’s life with Bray seemingly more interested in
boating. Blake seems oblivious to his wise counsel as well. Her story
seems a bit too polished.
While in Europe she rented
the house to an Army Colonel, played by Donald Randolph, the man who
smuggled the jewels to California. He has lost track of their
location due to his ten year prison term for the theft. His
embodiment of the character seems an odd choice as he comes off more
a dapper, sometimes witty, underworld kingpin than an Army vet. He
and Bray verbally spar yet Randolph likes his bluntness. He feels
they will get along fine and asks for Bray’s help to locate the
jewels. Patricia Donahue is one of the colonel’s companions in
another of her condescending, smirking roles who always seems amused
by whomever she is with. In the end, all is sorted out with guns
blazing and the jewels located. A murder rap awaits one, while
another has reserved a room at the state prison.
In the only noir element,
outside the opening, Bray is jumped and beaten in a darkened room by
stuntmen. It is obvious they are pulling their punches in precise
choreographed form. Bray lies bruised and bleeding on the floor while
a high wailing trumpet sums up Bray’s consequence. A lone neon sign
flashes from dark to light over his body.
Note: I am safe in saying Robert
Bray was not going to reprise this role again yet he makes the film
better. It is not a bad film despite obvious budget restraints. There
are numerous one-liners that could have worked but the script did not
include any. Bray could have delivered those pretty well. Instead his
comebacks are not very clever. One exception might be his comment
about his curvaceous secretary, Velda, played by Pamela Duncan.
Bray’s pet name for her is “Beautiful.” For the first couple of
weeks after she started working for him, he could not take his eyes
off her. But she is smart, too. He says “she has a brain that
figures all the angles. I only figure the curves.” Rim shot!