HIS KIND OF WOMAN

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One of those movies that was clearly messed with in post-production, HIS KIND OF WOMAN was directed by John Farrow, but producer Howard Hughes had it recut, with additional material added by Richard Fleischer. This all comes from the DVD commentary by Vivian Sobchchak, which is a good one–these sorts of car-wreck productions give commentators something to talk about besides the movie stars. You don’t need commentary to see that this movie is one of those peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate goony bird movies. No one would’ve planned a movie to come out this way.

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Mitchum’s kind of woman? One who was breathing.

This starts off in film noir territory. Dan Milner (Mitchum) is a gambler who owes $$$, so of course he takes a job that will put his life in danger.

That’s when he heads into romance, intrigue and some wacky adventuring that puts this closer to BEAT THE DEVIL than THE ASPHALT JUNGLE. Mitchum spends the first HOUR of the movie hanging out in a tourist spot without knowing WHY he’s been sent to Mexico. The noir promise of the first few scenes is long gone, and it never really returns. There are some moody moments with the father from ROBOT MONSTER as an evil Nazi-sounding doctor, but like Mitchum we spend our time wondering what the hell we’re doing here.

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“The last man who grabbed my arm ended up on an uncharted desert island. In an apron.”

Mitchum and Jane Russell have great screen chemistry, and why shouldn’t they? Russell was Mitchum’s female counterpart, doing her own thing, clearly into having a good time wink wink, and able to handle herself without calling on some man for help.

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Deleted scene from John Waters’s LITTLE MEN

When it turns out Russell’s boyfriend is played by Vincent Price, the modern viewer knows there’s clear sailing ahead for Mitchum and Russell. In Price’s favor he plays an unusual character, neither the campy villain of his future roles nor the sour stiff of LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN. He’s actually fun as a movie star who organizes a raid on the bad guy’s domain.

Howard Hughes’ involvement led to more Price scenes, and this seriously, almost fatally knocks the movie out of noir territory into light comedy adventure. Russell disappears from the movie for half an hour while The Men shoot and beat each other up. While Mitchum endures a maze of passageways in this yacht the size of a small U.S. state, we see Price in scenes that could have been disposed of in a sentence or two of dialogue. They’re fun, but they kill any sense of Mitchum being in real danger. Remove Price’s scenes and this could be an okay noir; with them, it’s just a romp.

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“What I’d really like to do, Vince, is act in crappy horror movies. That’s where the REAL money is.”

Howard Hughes’ involvement usually beat up, ripped up and defaced pictures. It’s too bad he couldn’t have gotten along with Howard Hawks–both seemed to share an attitude that movies should be romps, a good time. You can see in his meddling here that he was up for Hawks movies, but he just didn’t have Hawks’ ability to balance the serious and the humorous.

HIS KIND OF WOMAN is no classic, but it’s fun, with some snappy dialogue.

“Well, what did you think of the picture?”

“Oh, it was fine. It was just a little long – about an hour and a half.”

That’s Tarantino-level self-awareness for you!

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