Young Bart Collins lives with his widowed mother Heloise. The major blight on Bart’s existence is the hated piano lessons he is forced to endure under the tutelage of the autocratic Dr. Terwilliker. Bart feels that his mother has fallen under Terwilliker’s sinister influence, and gripes to visiting plumber August Zabladowski, without much result. While grimly hammering away at his lessons, Bart dozes off and enters a fantastical musical dream.
Mickey Spillane plays his own creation, street-thug-turned-PI Mike Hammer, in this 1963 adaptation of his novel. The film opens with Hammer on the downside of a years-long bender, scooped out of the gutter by a bitter cop intent on prying information from a dying man. Inspired to clean up his act by the secrets he hears, Hammer hits the streets on a personal crusade to find the love of his life. Future Bond girl Shirley Earton costars as a glamorous society widow who goes slumming with Hammer.–Sean Axmaker