Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Film Review: HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951, John Farrow)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 120 minutes.
Tag-line: "They were two of a kind ! ...and bound to meet, but neither of them knew what such a meeting would mean!"
Notable Cast or Crew: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Raymond Burr, Tim Holt (TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, STAGECOACH), Charles McGraw (THE BIRDS, SPARTACUS), Marjorie Reynolds (GONE WITH THE WIND, HOLIDAY INN). Some supposed uncredited direction by Richard Fleischer (SOYLENT GREEN, MR. MAJESTYK, FANTASTIC VOYAGE).
Best one-liner: "Alas, why must I be plagued by yammering magpies on the eve of battle?" As said by Vincent Price.

I'd call HIS KIND OF WOMAN something of a hidden gem- not only for Mitchum aficionados, but for fans of ridiculous cinema in general. Our story unfolds at a Mexican resort which is, in fact, a sprawling, intricate set populated by 'Mexicans' who speak fluent English except for "Si" and "Señor," as if the thought process is: "I present to you now the champagne you requested..." -damn, what's the English word for Señor aw fuck it- "...Señor."

The plot is kinda DARK PASSAGE meets OUT OF THE PAST with a sprinkling of the THIN MAN: icy, depraved, eye-bulging mobster Raymond Burr

wants to steal the face of patsy Bob Mitchum so he can return to America. A l'il romance with Jane Russell and a l'il whackiness with Shakespeare-quotin' Vincent Price provide a lighthearted tone.

Mitchum is great. He's playing a teetotaler, and I kept on thinking that it was just a set-up for a joke where at the end he'd drink an entire bottle of gin just to prove what a hardass he is, but alas... no.

Mitchum orders milk at a bar and visualizes spending his paycheck on several cases of gin.

And you can tell that even having to pretend that he doesn't imbibe is pissing him off. This film, like every one he ever did, is full of scenes of Mitchum scoffing and otherwise not giving a shit. There's a very good chance he didn't even watch this flick after it was released.

Mitchum tries his best to give a shit about Jane Russell.

Mitchum pretends not to give a shit about that drink, mere inches away.

And, as always, whenever he 'does a good deed,' you're thinking- 'yeah, that's just cause it was in the script.' Then he follows it with an insolent sneer so you know you're right.

Mitchum is pained by the thought of being a do-gooder.

Then, we got Vincent. He plays a girlish actor coming to grips with his 'action persona' through the need to perpetrate real violence on deserving hoodlums.

Look at that smarm. The utter lack of respect for anyone who can't quote the classics with equivalent fluency or zest.

He's having a ball. He's stealing the movie from Mitchum. To be fair, it's teetotaling Mitchum. And to be more fair, Mitchum doesn't give a shit if he steals the movie or not. But still... impressive.

Anyway, later, while Mitchum's in bondage, Vincent is saving the day, blasting goons and shouting one-liners like "Deceased! Or to say in plain terms- gone to heaven!" or "Death hath not struck so fat a deer today," which is, in short, one of the best things I've ever seen.

"This place: is dangerous. The time: right deadly. The drinks are on me, my bucko!"

There's Mexican stand-offs, scathing Hollywood satire, and Mitchum bets his shoe at a card game ("Well, if we're betting leather..."). I love it. Four stars.

-Sean Gill


skeelo said...

It would have been awesome if price/mitchum did more movies together.

Sean Gill said...

Yeah, it's unfortunate we don't have more, but I guess we should be thankful that this one exists. What a great combo, though! There are several solid Mitchum-less Price noirs, though.

Tom Sutpen said...

Robert Mitchum had a stock answer whenever he was asked what his favorite role was; always some variation on "The don't pay me to watch them."

I'd say the chances of his never having seen 'His Kind of Woman' are very good.

Sean Gill said...

Ah, the simple joys of not giving a shit. One of my favorite RM quotes:

"Sure I was glad to see John Wayne win the Oscar ... I`m always glad to see the fat lady win the Cadillac on TV, too."