Harry Essex

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1947) di Mickey Spillane. Scen.: Harry Essex. F.: John Alton. M.: Frederick Y. Smith. Scgf.: Wiard B. Ihnen. Mus.: Franz Waxman. Int.: Biff Elliot (Mike Hammer), Preston Foster (capitano Pat Chambers), Peggie Castle (Charlotte Manning), Margaret Sheridan (Velda), Alan Reed (George Kalecki), Mary Anderson (Eileen Vickers/Mary Wright), Tom Powers (Miller), Robert Cunningham (John Hansen/Hal Kines), Tani Seitz (Esther Bellamy), Dran Seitz (Mary Bellamy). Prod.: Victor Saville per Parklane Pictures, Inc. DCP. D.: 87’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Mickey Spillane was not a fan of the films British producer Victor Saville fashioned in the 1950s from the mystery writer’s bestsellers… Though he counted Biff Elliot a friend, Spillane also disliked I, the Jury. He thought Elliot was too small, though his chief complaints were with the script and such details as Mike Hammer’s trademark .45 automatic being traded in for a revolver, and he howled about Hammer getting knocked out with a coat hanger…
In 1999, Mickey and I were invit ed to London where the National Film Theater was showing my documentary, Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, as part of a retrospective of Spillane films. Mickey did not bother to attend any of the screenings except my documentary. But I was eager to attend a rare 3D screening of I, the Jury.
I’d always liked the film and had argued its merits (and those of Kiss Me Deadly) to Mickey over the years. Of all the Saville films, I, the Jury seemed to catch best the look and flavor of the novels; it was fun and tough and sexy, and the dialogue had crackle. What had disappointed moviegoers at the time remains disappointing; the most overtly sexual aspects of the plot (a dance studio may or may not be a brothel, several characters may or may not be homosexual) became incoherent due to censorship issues, and the famous striptease finale reduced lovely Peggie Castle’s disrobing to taking off her shoes!
But Elliot himself was a terrific Mike Hammer – an emotional hothead who could be as tough as he was tender. That he was a little smaller than readers might have imagined Hammer only makes him seem less a bully. He fights hard and loves hard, and may not be as smart as most movie private eyes, which gives him a nice everyman quality. It’s a shame Elliot, with a screen presence similar to James Caan’s, was not better launched by the film.
The revelation of the screening, however, was the 3D cinematography. Seen “flat” on TV, the film doesn’t seem to be much of a 3D movie, with only a few instances of objects and people coming out of the screen. But the 3D screening revealed the brilliant John Alton’s mastery at creating depth, bringing the viewer inside the images. As one of a small handful of 3D crime films, I, the Jury is an unacknowledged 3D gem.

Max Allan Collins, I, the Jury. Noir in 3-D, “Classic Images”, n. 395, May 2008

Copy From

Restored in 4K in 2021 by UCLA Film & Television Archive in collaboration with P.K.L. Pictures at Roundabout Entertainment and The UCLA Digital Film Lab and Audio Mechanics laboratories, from the original picture negative left (missing two reels) and right eye, the fine grain for two reels of the left eye and as a track source. Funding provided by Connie Elliott. Special thanks to Nick Varley, The Harvard Film Archive and The Packard Humanities Institute