Entertainment News and Views
Judge Maurice Cobbs's Blog
• Location: Athens, GA
You sure showed those bastards, Mick...
"You've forgotten that I'm not a guy that takes any crap. Not from anybody. You've forgotten I've been in business because I stayed alive longer than some guys who didn't want me that way. You've forgotten that I've had some punks tougher than you'll ever be on the end of a gun and I pulled the trigger just to watch their expressions change." -- Mike Hammer, Vengeance is Mine
Mickey Spillane was not supposed to die.
But once again the real world, in all it's sordid disregard for what ought to be, wins out. I wish I could at least tell you that he died after blasting some Commie stooges to hell with a .45, or maybe giving some cheap hood a fist full of five in the mush.... but the larger-than-life Spillane died a rather ordinary and quiet death at home at the age of 88 (he'd been suffering from pancreatic cancer).
Mickey Spillane... I've got to raise a beer to him... having no Miller Light on hand, I hope he'll allow a Killian's Red...
Mickey Spillane... see, he knew how thugs ought to be treated, as he explains through his legendary creation, Mike Hammer, in what must surely be Spillane's masterpiece of violence and revenge, One Lonely Night:
"It's simple enough. Go after the big boys. Oh, don't arrest them, don't treat them to the dignity of the democratic process of courts and law... do the same thing to them that they'd do to you! Treat 'em to the unglorious taste of sudden death."
Hard-boiled doesn't begin to cover it. Hammer would eat Dirty Harry for breakfast and pick his teeth with Marv from Sin City. One of my favorite passages, from The Big Kill, shows how you treat a hoodlum:
"...I dragged out the .45 and let them look down the hole so they could see where death came from.
"It was the only kind of talk they knew... I snapped the side of the rod across his jaw and laid the flesh open to the bone. He dropped the sap and staggered into the big boy with a scream starting to come up out of his throat only to get it cut off in the middle as I pounded his teeth back into his mouth with the end of the barrel... He got so mad that he came at me with his head down and I took my own damn time about kicking him in the face. He smashed into the door and lay there bubbling. So I kicked him again and he stopped bubbling... The punk was vomiting on the floor, trying to claw his way under the sink. For laughs, I gave him a taste of his own sap on the back of his hand and felt the bones go into splinters. he wasn't going to be using any tools for a long time."
And he knew how to treat Communists, too:
"Damn their stinking hides anyway. Damn them and their philosophies! Death and destruction were the only things the Kremlin crowd was capable of. They knew the value of violence and death and used it over and over in a wild scheme to smash everything flat but their own kind.
"But there was one thing they didn't know. They didn't know how to handle it when it came back to them and exploded in their own faces... Death? I'd get them, every one, no matter how big or little, or wherever they were. I'd cut them down like so many grapes in ways that would scare the living crap out of them and those next in line for my kill would never know a second's peace until their heads went flying every which way.... Still, there had to be some indication that people were left who treat those Commie slobs like they liked to treat people."
That, from The Girl Hunters. What comes next is pretty gruesome... I won't tell you, but it involves a 20 penny nail and a ball-peen hammer. "Better than handcuffs," Hammer remarks, after his work is done.
Which is the appeal of Spillane's writing, aside from the raw energy and incredibly vibrant imagery. Not since Walter Gibson's The Shadow and Chester Gould's Dick Tracy had a character impressed me with such severe justice, the way justice ought to be dealt out -- sudden, cold, hard, and mercilessly. Right wing? Balls. This stuff went beyond right wing. This was the wrath of God dealt out through the barrel of a .45 -- hot lead standing in for lightning bolts. Frogs, snakes and water turning to blood was just a warm-up. Imagine the way the Ungodly (to use Simon Templar's favored expression) would quake in their boots if He'd REALLY sent a Mike Hammer to mete out justice... to treat the scum of the world exactly the way they like to treat decent folks... to be the uncompromising, unrelenting, vengeance from on high with a .45 in his mitt and a belly full of mad.
Naturally, the critics had no use for Spillane or his kill-crazy characters... but Spillane didn't give a damn. One creep mouthed off in a snide manner when he heard that, of the top ten bestselling books, seven of them were Spillane's. "You're lucky I didn't write three more," Spillane retorted.
Of course he would write three more, and a few others, besides, including some excellent (and award-winning) ones for children; and as far as I know, he's the only writer who's ever played his own creation in a movie -- and he did it well, in The Girl Hunters, out-of-print but available on DVD if you have the dough to spend on it. On the other hand, Ring of Fear, in which Spillane plays himself as he roots out a psychopath at the Clyde Beatty Circus, has just been released on DVD.
I gotta crack open another one. Here's to you, Mickey Spillane... None of those snooty bastards liked you, but you showed 'em all. Nobody even remembers who they were, now, but you they'll never forget.