Director: Harry Essex, Director of Photography John Alton, Writers: Harry Essex, Mickey Spillane (novel) Stars: Biff Elliot, Preston Foster, Peggie Castle, Tani Guthrie, Dran Hamilton, (3 Stooger) Joe Besser, and Noir regular Elisha Cook Jr.
I, The Jury became the first of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Detective series to be made into a movie. Hammer is a no holds barred bull in a china shop type of PI. Spillane wrote Mike Hammer starting with the first 1947 novel "I, the Jury" as a traditional Pulp/Noir Detective but he pushed the bubble with the lid off/over the top sexuality of the women going 20 years ahead of his time, films wouldn't be that explicit enough to do Hammer justice until the late 1960's, but by then the ability to do stylized noir with its stable of character actors is gone, its like two ships passing in the night.
Biff Elliott is a bit miscast as Hammer, he looks a bit too young a bit too green, I would have picked someone like say Charles McGraw as closer to Spillane's brutish hair-triggered PI.
The tale starts when his best friend Jack, an insurance investigator and combat amputee, gets himself shot in the guts, and puts Hammer out on a personal revenge rampage.
Now to be honest this is the first film with director of photography John Alton, where I've been a bit letdown, the films seems too washed out and gray than his usual inky blacks and silvery white work, it could be the fault of the DVDr I viewed. Who knows how many copies removed it is from the source print. But there are a lot of sequences that are not very stylistically lighted at all and there are very few, I would go as far as say there is a paucity of outside NYC location shots compared to other Noirs set in NYC (not one skyline shot, bridge shot, nothing, street shots of building entrances are square on, no 3/4 shots showing some of the street perspective, very uninteresting camera angles for the most part) and for a Mike Hammer NYC based film this is a big mistake. Think of all the great NYC city local based Noirs, Where The Sidewalk Ends, The Naked City, Kiss of Death, Side Street, The Phantom Lady, The Window, The Dark Corner that gave you a feel for the city, you don't get that here.
One of the few real outside location shots of an ambulance
A shot typical of almost all the un-imaginative building entrance shots
There is a very nice fight scene on a staircase in what looks like the Bradbury Building in LA this is probably where it was filmed (not from the film)
This would explain the lack of NYC locations if it was all shot in LA
Also Alton here in this film tried his hand at the 3-D process, maybe that is the reason for the films look, but some of the stills posted here show different though, see below. Anyway if any of you have seen better prints of the film, comment, thanks.
A nice stylistic noir shot
A murder scene the party is definitely over
Peggy & Biff
The now iconic ending sequence.
All in all I'll give this on second viewing a 6.5-7/10