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Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: The Complete Series

4.6 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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(Sep 20, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Product Description

New York City. 1958. In these concrete canyons, everybody's got an angle: The beauty with the sob story who killed her old man. The harmless geezer who's in bed with the mob. The kidnapped broad who's really a fraud. When a case gets too twisted for the cops, only one man can straighten it out: two-fisted gumshoe Mike Hammer.

Created by legendary crime novelist Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer was brought to television for the first time in 1958, with Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, A Christmas Story) as the hardboiled private eye. Pummeled for its "excessive and gratuitous violence" (by 1950's standards), the show was, nevertheless, instantly successful - thanks, in part, to McGavin's tongue-in-cheek charm.

Here for the first time on DVD is the complete 78-episode run of the groundbreaking series MICKEY SPILLANE'S MIKE HAMMER, featuring the original jazz theme, Riff Blues and an unforgettable cast of conmen, crooks, killers and femmes fatale played by such notables as Angie Dickinson, Ted Knight, Barbara Bain, Marion Ross, Dick Van Patten and Robert Vaughn.


Crime novelist Mickey Spillane's hard-boiled alter ego, private eye Mike Hammer, made his television debut in this syndicated action series, which ran from 1957 to 1959 and featured TV favorite Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) as Hammer. The format is strictly by the books: Hammer takes a case that is sorted out by the 24-minute mark by a combination of fast talk and fists, with a liberal application of .38-caliber punctuation. Bart Burns is on hand as police lieutenant Pat Chambers, who provides Hammer with sage advice and admonishments against going too far in his pursuit of justice, and the guest cast of good guys, heels, and dames is filled out by familiar TV faces, including Angie Dickinson, Robert Vaughn, Mike Connors, Lorne Greene, and DeForest Kelly. McGavin's turn as Hammer is appropriately tough when the chips are down, but for the most part, he's an amiable sort, sweet with the ladies and balancing a tone that falls somewhere between world-weary and tongue-in-cheek (which was reportedly McGavin's idea, and ran contrary to the producers' wishes). He hews a lot closer to Stacy Keach's TV interpretation, or even McGavin's later, iconic turn as Kolchak (who also had a way with a voice-over), than the brutal avenger of Spillane's novels. If you're looking for that version, stick with Ralph Meeker, the best screen Hammer, in Robert Aldrich's harrowing Kiss Me Deadly (1955), but if it's a nostalgic dose of '50s TV detective fare you're after, McGavin's Mike Hammer has the goods. The A&E set features all 78 episodes of the series' two-season run, with no extras; image quality, as an onscreen disclaimer notes, is decent but not crystal clear, and there are no extras. --Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Darren McGavin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 12
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: September 20, 2011
  • Run Time: 2028 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004QC6HGY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,490 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First off, let me preface this by saying I am 32 yrs old and honestly did not know this particular program had ever existed until I found it on Amazon. In the last year I had purchased a couple other classics of the genre (such as Johnny Staccato and M Squad) so I was happily suprised to find this set listed in my "coming soon" recommendations. As soon as I saw it was starring Darren McGavin I clicked pre-order without hesitation and waited for its arrival. When the set arrived I ate it up. Sure there are some clunkers, but the good outweigh the bad and McGavin makes even the lesser episodes watchable. The physical violence and eroticism are fairly heavy for the time which leads to it standing out among his peers. While its certainly not "the Wire" and only "popcorn" enterainment it is better acted/better written than other crime/detective shows on tv if ya are considering making the purchase just click that order button.
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Format: DVD
Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer surely ranks as one of the most famous (or infamous) detectives in modern fiction. A lot of actors have embodied the hard boiled Hammer through various film and TV projects, but the quintessential representation for me has always been Darren McGavin in this series from 1958-1959. Obviously as a product of the late fifties, the show can seem tame and dated by modern standards--but that certainly doesn't decrease its "cool" quotient. Ironically, the show was lambasted upon its debut for its use of excessive violence by contemporary critics--but that didn't detract viewers from embracing the program's offbeat charms. Always a fan of McGavin, his television work (particularly this as well as the before-his-time Kolchak) is what truly stands out in a career resume spanning over sixty years. His Hammer plays up tough guy cliches with refreshing humor and unapologetically sexist machismo. And when pushed to action, he moves quickly and with relentless determination (not to mention a healthy dose of contempt for authority).

As the episodes are short and action packed, character development often plays second fiddle to moving the narrative along. As such, many guest roles can seem fairly one dimensional. Women, in particular, get short shrift--usually portrayed as either simpering victims or as evil incarnate with little moderation. In many respects, therefore, the show's success sits on the reliable shoulders of McGavin. The stories themselves are better than expected, with plenty of twists and surprises. In fact, looking back at some of Hammer's cases--many are more intricate than what can be seen in today's cookie cutter procedural crime shows.
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Format: DVD
I was one of those reading these great reviews from reviewers who seemingly love the series but haven't seen the set so let me be the first to say....THEY LOOK GREAT! I found this set at costco for $49 and took a chance knowing I could return it if it proved to be substandard but they look like film not video. I'm a long time fan of Darren McGavin and this reminds me of the character he played so well in Kolchak Kolchak - The Night Stalker. These are not in a league with Twilight Zone or as moody and retro as Peter Gunn so don't expect film noir sort of lighting and drama....but they are still good viewing at 25minutes an episode.

As others mentioned it is always fun to see the future stars in their guest roles. Anyway....others go into much better detail about the series and I've only scratched the surface but I did want to let all who were , like me, wondering...they are very good prints you will not be disappointed.
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Format: DVD
Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: The Complete Series has been released by A&E Home Video, all 78 episodes, and the only reaction possible is: WOW! Only two seasons (1958 and 1959) were shot, and it must have been a grueling schedule. Darren McGavin plays Hammer with charm, insouciance and exactly the right amount of threat to make him consistently interesting and always somewhat surprising.
Somehow, by adding magnetism and menace, the actor is able to avoid the misogyny of Spillane's alter-ego. Remember, the three women involved with Hammer in the 1955 film Kiss Me Deadly end up painfully dead. Mike may refer to the women as "chickies", but he treats his amours as the knight in slightly rusted armor he is.
Considering the age, the quality of the sound and the visuals are nothing short of miraculous. Evidently, the interiors were filmed in Hollywood (as the credits suggest), but the exteriors are pure mid-century New York City, and a treat they are themselves. Dave Kahn's jazz infused score is a perfect background for Hammer's world: flawed, sometimes down and dirty, but always with hope and confidence.
McGavin is, as always, spot on; as an actor, it's a shame he remains tremendously underrated. Here, he worked with everyone from Anna May Wong to Hershel Bernardi to Angie Dickinson. The faces that pop up from the series are amazing, so extraordinarily young, preserved on film forever.
One complaint: 28 minutes is simply too short a time for such interesting characters and situations. Each episode would make a perfect film noir; still, as is, we are truly blessed in having this collection of "noirettes'
Any fan of old TV, noir or just darn good acting, writing, directing and presentation, should do themselves a favor and buy this collection. Today.
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Is Mike Hammer CC or subtitled?
Me too.
Dec 15, 2011 by Mayte |  See all 2 posts
Found at Costco this week for $24.99
Does it have closed captioning or subtitles?
Apr 28, 2012 by Mocha's Mom |  See all 9 posts
Help bring the 80's show to DVD !!!
Must have CC
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Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: The Complete Series
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