Stepping into frame with that sleepy-eyed uber cool swagger is Robert Mitchum. This review is for a fun little noir called His Kind of Woman (1951)
What’s going down?
Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum) is a gambling man. Down on his luck. On the look for his next trick. His unlucky streak is made worse when three gangster’s heavies turn up at his apartment. Demanding money owed on a horse race he never bet on. It ends with Dan taking a beating. Later he’s contacted to take a mysterious job that will pay big bills. 50 thousand dollars with a 5 thousand advance. The job will take him out of the country to a remote Mexican resort. He will then receive further instructions to his task. Dan Milner isn’t stupid. He takes the job to keep the gangsters off his back but he’s stays forever observant. They aren’t gonna get one over on him! Dotted around the resort are many suspicious and dodgy looking holiday makers. Dan keeps his eye on each and everyone. Caught up in the story is underworld boss Nick Ferraro (Raymond Burr) trying to escape Italy after being deported. Wishing to get back on American soil to continue his gangster ways. Can Dan Milner work out what he is being paid to do?
The main players
Robert Mitchum – Dan Milner
Jane Russell – Lenore Brent
Vincent Price – Mark Cardigan
Tim Holt – Bill Lusk
Charles McGraw – Thompson
Marjorie Reynolds – Helen Cardigan
Raymond Burr – Nick Ferraro
John Mylong – Martin Krafft
Tagline – They were two of a kind ! …and bound to meet, but neither of them knew what such a meeting would mean!
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
- Of course Robert Mitchum is known for amazing performances like Out of the Past (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955) and one of my favorites Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). The only two I’ve done, so far, for my film blog are Crossfire (1947) and the masterpiece The Yakuza (1974). Pop back over the month, more Mitchum’s to come.
- I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen any Jane Russell movies other than Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) many years ago. Feel free to recommend.
- If there’s one film you see with Charles McGraw then makes sure it’s The Narrow Margin (1952)
- I don’t believe this is my first Vincent Price post! How could it be! The guys a legend! Check the awesome The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), House of Wax (1953) and Laura (1944) to name a few.
- Tim Holt starred alongside Humphrey Bogart in the western treasure digging drama The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) along with many other westerns.
- It’s amazing to know that Raymond Burr was always the go-to bad guy with his hulking big frame. Then later in his career he’d become the quintessential, much loved, good guy in TV crime detective characters such as Ironside and Perry Mason. He stars in possibly my favourite Alfred Hitchcock film with James Stewart in Rear Window (1954) and two I’ve reviewed on my film site called Desperate (1947) and Raw Deal (1948) both of which are essential noirs.
Notes on production?
His Kind Of Woman is directed by John Farrow who had earlier made these two excellent noirs. Alias Nick Beal (1949) and The Big Clock (1948) both starring Ray Milland. Production sounds like a total nightmare. I read that Howard Hughes was desperate to get his two big stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell to feature together as “the epitome of sexual chemistry“. When the film wrapped he wasn’t happy at all. Even resulting in what sounds like blackmailing uncredited director Richard Fleischer to re-shoot chunks of the film, especially the end. Using Fleischer’s recently finished The Narrow Margin as a bargaining chip. Hughes wanted more Vincent Price, who he loved and for the film to feature more comedy, more death, brutality, and more fighting. Howard Hughes must of drove everyone to their absolute wits end but there’s no denying that his changes were, for us the viewer, perfection.
Hits like a sledge hammer
Robert Mitchum always looks so damn cool but his take on Dan Milner is stylish, rugged and tough with an unabashed confidence. Each time he walks on screen he stops, pops his hands in his suit jacket, leans back and begins to read the room. Busy taking in the atmosphere. Prying to be one step ahead of whatever dangerous situation he has coming his way. But when things start to hit like a sledge hammer he can’t always be ready. And boy does he take a beating. “The boys know not to mess up his face! OK! Don’t rough him up too much“. is just the start. When the end arrives it’s insanely brutal, so brutal that I read that Mitchum saw red! Going completely mad on set, smashing the hell out of everything when acting turned into more of a bashing for this star during the finale. Which must be saying something as you can only imagine Mitchum being just as tough off screen. It’s also said that Raymond Burr might of even accidentally knocked him out.
Nick Ferraro – “I want him to be fully conscious. I don’t like to shoot a corpse. I want to see the expression on his face when he knows it’s coming.“
Made me smile from ear to ear
“Hollywood legend” Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price) putting on his own personal cinema showings of his films as he sits at the back rejoicing in his talents. Dressed in his evening smoking jacket he claps excitedly to his own movie performances. Glancing around the room to catch peoples reactions whilst his swashbuckling swordsmanship play out on the screen. It’s a delight to watch him as it always is but here it reaches another level of brilliance and it warms your heart. To add to this he announces wonderful lines like these “Now might I drink hot blood and do such bitter business the earth would quake to look upon.” or “I must rid all the seas of pirates!”
His Kind Of Woman manages to slice a few differing film genres within it’s narrative. You got a hard-boiled gangster drama, a dark film noir filled with action, a little romance and some surprising comic moments. You could worry that the comedy side, which has Vincent Price in hilarious form, would distract from the grittiness of the story. However, strangely it doesn’t at all. Even more bizarre is Robert Mitchum plays his part perfectly, he’s tough, wise and just looks so effortlessly cool. But somehow Vincent Price’s portrayal of the brave and kind thespian Mark Cardigan completely steals the show. He’s desperate to show he’s as brave as the part he plays in his films. You are with him as he relishes in his moment. Oh and Jane Russell is smoking hot too.
This was a SUPERB recommend by Mikes Take On The Movies. I’m sure he has a review as the big Vincent Price fan that he is. Be sure to check his Spotlighting Vincent Price On the Small Screen Part one and Part Two.
Wolfman’s rating 8.5/10 IMDB 7.1/10
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf