Friday, August 10, 2012

Mickey Spillane on Screen

 The term 'exhaustive' is often misused when applied to a biography or reference book, but there is no other word to describe Max Allan Collins' and James L. Traylor's book MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN. This one, as Stan Lee is fond of saying, has it all. The movies. The TV shows. Pilots. Scripts. The beer commercials, even. You name it. If it has to do with Mickey Spillane on the big or small screen, it's here. And it contains a biography of Spillane and an interview with him that are worth the price of admission all by themselves.
   The truly enjoyable thing about this book is that it isn't just a history of film adaptations of Spillane's books, but that it keeps up a running commentary on Spillane's life and writing career. You learn what he was (or wasn't) working on at the time that the various films were made and what he thought of them. You'll see who Spillane wanted to play Mike Hammer in the early films and why that didn't work out.
   The most fun for me was all the behind the scenes info on my favorite Spillane Mike Hammer film, The Girl Hunters and on my  other favorite Spillane movie, Ring of Fear. I  knew John Wayne was involved in the production of Ring of Fear, but not precisely how.
   I also have a small personal interest in the book because it was one of the authors, James L. Traylor, who loaned me his Beta Max copy of Ring of Fear many many years ago so that I could see it. Now I have a shiny DVD copy, but back in the day the movie was almost impossible to find.
   Anyway, if you are a fan of Mickey Spillane, you need this book, even if you're not particularly interested in the movies. The title, MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN is apt. It's all about Mickey.


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