“There was enough bull in that room to father a herd.”
Hammer is visited by country singer Malcolm Dobbs (Tim McIntire). Dobbs asks Hammer to act as a bodyguard for a high stakes poker game he’s been invited to at the Sprague building. Hammer declines. At the poker game are Martin Sprague (Jay Bernstein), Tallahassee Smith (Denny Miller) and Bedrick Bordante (Richard Romanus). The dealer is Eve Warwick (Robyn Douglass). Tallahassee does some drug dealing before the game.
Outside is Captain Pat Chambers (Don Stroud). He’s waiting for DEA agent, Tom Phillips (Sam Groom). Chambers knows a drug deal is going down inside but he is waiting for Phillips. Inside two masked men rob the game. Sprague ends up shot. The two robbers take the money and parachute off the top of the building. On the ground Chambers sees the two thieves and chases after them. Chambers is shot in the back by someone else already on the ground.
While Chambers is in the hospital Hammer learns that Chambers found out about the drug deal from an informant named Angela (Ingrid Anderson). When Hammer goes to talk to Angela he finds she’s been murdered. The police find part of the drugs in Chambers’ car and arrest him as an accessory to drug trafficking. Without his informant Pat has no proof that he wasn’t in on the drug deal. Hammer’s challenge is to find out who shot his best friend and who is the man behind the drugs.
“More Than Murder” was released in 1984 and was directed by Gary Nelson. It is a CBS made for television murder mystery film based on the Mickey Spillane character Mike Hammer. This is Keach’s second time playing the hardboiled detective. Keach played Hammer in four films and a television series that ran from 1984 to 1987. This and the previous film “Murder Me, Murder You” were both pilot films for the series. In addition to Keach there were seven other actors who played the famous detective in movies: Biff Elliot, Ralph Meeker, Robert Bray, Mickey Spillane, Armand Assante, Kevin Dobson and Rob Estes.
Don Stroud plays Captain Pat Chambers in all four movies and the series. Tanya Roberts is replaced by Lindsay Bloom as Velda for the remaining movies and the CBS series.
The Stacy Keach, Mike Hammer films and series are all similar in that they have rather involved plots with lots of snappy one-liners and an endless supply of big breasted women. It’s amazing how Hammer gets anything done with every woman in New York drooling after him.
Frank Morrison Spillane created the Mike Hammer character in 1947 when he wrote “I, the Jury”. Spillane wrote thirteen Mike Hammer novels. Spillane died in 2006 of pancreatic cancer. Twelve of his unpublished Hammer novels were edited and published by his friend Max Allan Collins. They were released between 2008 and 2020.
In 1997 an attempt was made to reprise the television series. “Mike Hammer, Private Eye” was a syndicated program that only lasted one year. Stacy Keach, once again, played Hammer in the doomed series. A direct to video movie "Songbird" was released in 2003. That film was a compilation of two episodes of “Mike Hammer, Private Eye” series.