Though the hoi polloi loathed Mickey Spillane’s pulpy-yet-cynical series of novels about tough guy private dick Mike Hammer, the public loved them and lapped them up as quickly as Spillane could churn them out. In time, this lead to the books being adapted to the big screen, though the explicit nature of the books’ violence and bed-hopping had to be heavily reduced.
There were notable Mike Hammer adaptations, including Ralph Meeker’s psychopath Hammer of KISS ME DEADLY and the genial tough guy Darren McGavin played on the Mike Hammer teleseries, but one must figure the best Hammer adaptation was THE GIRL HUNTERS, in which Spillane himself played the tough-as-nails detective. Spillane would occasionally act, perhaps most notably in RING OF FEAR, in which Mickey plays himself, and teams up with lion tamer Clyde Beatty (!) to help solve a circus murder.
THE GIRL HUNTERS reportedly sticks pretty close to the source novel, as we catch up to Mike while on a bender after the disappearance of Velda, his secretary and girlfriend. Mike is quickly sobered up because the police want him to talk to a dying rummy who refuses to speak to anyone but Hammer. The guy tells Hammer, among other things, that Velda is still alive and being held by commie spies operating a white slave market! Hammer shakes off his funk and goes into action, tracking down the commie agents operating within the city. Intriguingly, Velda is never seen. A pre-GOLDFINGER Shirley Eaton plays the femme fatal, a widowed blonde who likes to spend her days by the pool. One must assume this is Hammer as his creator wanted him, if still cleaned up a bit for the sake of motion pictures, so the film has an edge over the other Hammer adaptations. Though set in the States, and featuring real-life commie-smashers, the film was reportedly shot in England. An odd way to do it, certainly.