The Interview Issue: Bob Hammerle

September 26, 2015

A criminal defense attorney with Pence Hensel LLC, Bob Hammerle spends much of his off-time as a judge—of movies. Opinions shared with his college roommates and later a long email list of others, has grown to become Big-Mouth Bob’s Bug Juice Dispensary & Movie Reviews (www.bigmouthbobs.com). He also contributes reviews to The Indiana Lawyer. It’s a hobby, but one he’s passionate about. “If I could get half of the emotional satisfaction in a house of worship that I get in a dark movie theater,” he said, “I’d be one of the great holy men.”

hammerle-5-092815-15col.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Eric Learned)

When did your love of movies begin?

As a kid growing up in Batesville, I had two younger brothers and we used to watch Sammy Terry every Saturday night in the basement with the lights down. Scared the crap out of us. As I got older, I fell for Hayley Mills. I watched “The Chalk Garden” three straight times in the theater. I still remember being so upset when I heard she married this old man. Now, here I am 68 and he was maybe 40.

When did people start listening to your opinions about movies?

I went to Marian College, studying history, from 1965 to 1969. The guys would pool money and go someplace for food. I would take my money and go to the movies, then come back to the dorm and do film reviews for them—they called it “Hammerle-o-rama.”

How did you handle your movie habit when you became a father?

I got married in college, divorced in law school and had custody of my 5-year-old son. That’s when I rediscovered the value of drive-ins. You could literally take a child for three movies. The first would be a kids’ movie, then they’d fall asleep.

When did you start reaching strangers with your opinions?

Some years ago, I just started sending out an outline of reviews by email and doing short online reviews for the Star. I really enjoyed it. When they cut that, people said, “Why not send them out?”

How do you find the time to write them?

Shortly after seeing a film, I’ll dictate my thoughts about what I saw. Then I have my secretary hack it out and then I’ll explore on that, keep working on it. That’s the way I’ve done the blasted thing.

And the website? How many people are reading a given review?

I really don’t know. That started with help from my wife … who doesn’t go to movies. The idea was to have it so that I could respond to readers but, honestly, given the demands of my legal practice and spending time doing this, I don’t have time to even pay attention.

Can you recall films where your opinion differed drastically from other reviewers’?

I see what my own reaction is and try not to run from it. I loved “The Lone Ranger.” The popular thing to do was ripping it. It was savaged. Yet there was historical significance related to what we did to the Native Americans and what we did to the buffalo. On the flip side, everyone was going nuts over “Interstellar.” It was interesting, but way too long.

Ever leave a movie early?

In all my life, I never walked out of a movie until “Paper Towns.” I got halfway through and it was boring as hell. It got a lot of ink because of John Green [the author of the book]. But seeing those idiot clues … I didn’t care if they found her.

When you were younger, were you inspired by any movie attorneys?

Spencer Tracy in “Inherit the Wind” and Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The beauty of them isn’t just how hard they fought, but both lost.

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