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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A year after Stacy Keach's debut as Mike Hammer in "MURDER ME, MURDER
YOU", the powers-that-be finally stopped twiddling their thumbs and
gave the go-ahead for the follow-up. "MORE THAN MURDER" was the result,
and anyone who's ever watched the Stacy Keach HAMMER TV series can
attest, many of the regular elements of the show made their debut here.
We already got Mike, his office, his '64 Mustang, his "cowboy"
mustache, Pat Chambers & Barrington. This time around, we got Lindsay
Bloom as Velda, Danny Goldman as "Ozzie the Answer", "The Face" (WHO IS
SHE?????), and the catch-phrase, "I'll make a note." There's also
Mike's gum-ball machine, and Velda always trying to help him quit
smoking. One almost wonders why they bothered doing this as a 2-hour
movie, instead of a 2-parter, since the ongoing weekly series began
only ONE WEEK after this aired.
There's a lot to like here... the endless parade of large-breasted beauties wearing dresses with low neck-lines, all of whom seem to want to sleep with our favorite P.I.; the endless succession of shoot-outs, punch-outs, and tough-guy wise-cracks. There's also Robyn Douglass (who'd I'd seen in that "1980" show whose full title I make a point never to utter, or even type out), and Lynn-Holly Johnson (my FAVORITE "Bond girl"-- who DOESN'T get to sleep with Mike, either, poor girl).
However, a trend that, while I suppose does go back at least as far as "I, THE JURY" in 1953, continues here and, if anything, escalates totally out of control. That being, the plot is COMPLETELY incomprehensible. Believe me, I know. I've seen this at least 6 times since it first aired. When you've watched as many cop shows, detective shows, murder mysteries and the like as I have over the decades, and you STILL can't follow the plot, I figure it isn't me. And, as I recall, this trend became a fixture of the entire Stacy Keach HAMMER series, from start to finish. It makes me wonder... did they include all the gorgeous women, all the brutal fights and murders, all the hot-tempered ego-posturing, and the cool jazz music score, to distract viewers from the fact that the plots are INDECIPHERABLE? Or are all those elements-- as they were in the Bogart-Bacall BIG SLEEP-- the REASON it's impossible to understand the stories, EVEN at the end when they spell it all out for you?
As much as I did like this (despite itself), and as much as I loved the weekly series, there's one thing I always regretted about it... that because they waited SO LONG to do the 2nd one, they weren't able to get Tanya Roberts to come back as Velda. Damn shame. Of all of them, she was my favorite (with Margaret Sheridan a close second). Lindsay Bloom (who dyed her blonde hair black and lost a lot of pounds because she wanted the role so much) is terrific... but she never made me forget the girl she replaced.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Stacey Keach as the tough talking chain smoking and take
no BS private detective Mike Hammer hammers away at a gang of drug
smugglers that ends up with almost the entire cast never surviving the
end of the movie. It all started with a friendly game of cards that was
a camouflage for a major drug deal that Hammer's friend "Cowboy"
Malcolm Dobbs, Tim McIntire, was a participant in. With the game
interrupted by two masked men who fled the scene by parachute Hammer's
good friend Capt. Pat Chambers, Don Stroud, is shot from behind by an
unknown assailant as he came on the crime scene.
Chambers barley recovering from his injury is later indited in the robbery by the D.A's office in the fact that he was involved in the robbery by just being there and knowing about it in advance! Hammer for his part goes out on a limb in order to find the real person or persons behind the crime and as you would expect there's hell to pay on both sides of the law for the reminder of the movie. With enough killings to fill an entire weekend of shootings in cities like Chicago Washington D.C and L.A "More Then Murder" more then lives up to it's title. With a wild chase scene on foot and in the water by Hammer, who in the process lost his famed fedora, having it out with the person who's behind this drug deal gone wrong-and all the killings that followed-on of all places the New York Staten Island Ferry!
****SPOILERS****Great NYC on location street scenes as Hammer goes all out to crack this puzzling case for the police who seem totally helpless in doing it. Tough street wise and knowing his way around Hammer is more then motivated in getting things done here when his undercover FBI girlfriend Eve Warwick, Robyn Dougless, is gunned down by the mastermind of this complicated drug switch that initiated all the killings in the movie. After Hammer was winged, or shot, by Eve's killer he in return blast him straight off the walking plank of the ferry! And then calmly watches, without offering him any assistance, as he's hanging on by his fingertips for dear life falls to his death crashing into a car parked below with the now destroyed World Trade Towers, competing with Mike Hammer in the same frame, in the background. P.S We as well as Mike Hammer are introduced to the alluring and mysterious "Face", Donna Denton, who's to haunt him in all the remaining episodes of "The New Mike Hammer" Series.
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