Mickey Spillane plays his own creation, street-thug-turned-PI Mike Hammer, in this 1963 adaptation of his novel. The film opens with Hammer on the downside of a years-long bender, scooped out of the gutter by a bitter cop intent on prying information from a dying man. Inspired to clean up his act by the secrets he hears, Hammer hits the streets on a personal crusade to find the love of his life. Future Bond girl Shirley Earton costars as a glamorous society widow who goes slumming with Hammer.–Sean Axmaker
Grace Metalious’ once-notorious bestseller Peyton Place is given a lavish — and necessarily toned-down — film treatment in this deluxe 20th Century-Fox production. Set during WWII, the film concentrates on several denizens of the outwardly respectable New England community of Peyton Place. Top-billed Lana Turner plays shopkeeper Constance McKenzie, who tries to make up for a past indiscretion — which resulted in her illegitimate daughter Allison (Diane Varsi) — by adopting a chaste, prudish attitude towards all things sexual. In spite of herself, Constance can’t help but be attracted to handsome new teacher Michael Rossi (Lee Philips). Meanwhile, the restless Allison, who’d like to be as footloose and fancy-free as the town’s “fast girl” Betty Anderson (Terry Moore), falls sincerely in love with mixed-up mama’s boy Norman Page (Russ Tamblyn).
In Brooklyn circa 1900, the Nolans manage to enjoy life on pennies despite great poverty and Papa’s alcoholism. We come to know these people well through big and little troubles: Aunt Sissy’s scandalous succession of “husbands”; the removal of the one tree visible from their tenement; and young Francie’s desire to transfer to a better school…if irresponsible Papa can get his act together.
When the Lemon Drop Kid accidentally cheats gangster Moose Moran (Fred Clark) out of his track winnings, the Kid promises to repay Moose the money by Christmas. Creating a fake charity for “Apple Annie” Nellie Thursday, the Kid tricks his gang into donning Santa suits and “collecting dough for old dolls” like Nellie who have nowhere to live. Radio personality Marilyn Maxwell assists as the Kid’s girlfriend, while William Frawley and Jay C. Flippen play the lovable, gruff crooks that fall for the Kid’s Santa scam.
George Taylor returns from the WWII with amnesia. Back home in Los Angeles, he tries to track down his old identity, stumbling into a 3-year old murder case and a hunt for a missing $2 million.