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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Classic Film Review: His Kind of Woman (1951)

Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and Vincent Price, His Kind of Woman attempts to be a spoof of several genres but, for me, it didn't exactly succeed. Drifter and professional gambler Dan Milner (Mitchum) has been earmarked as a way of getting a deported crime boss back into the country. He is bribed to go to a holiday resort and await instructions. En-route, he meets Lenore Brent (Russell), a former singer going around telling people she is a millionaire as she tries to hook in her actor boyfriend Mark Cardigan (Price). She believed he was getting a divorce but that illusion soon vanishes when his wife turns up. Of course, by this time she's become more than interested in Dan.

Perhaps my main issue with this film was how much the first two thirds dragged. I struggle with Mitchum as an actor anyway but being expected to care about his for well over an hour when very little was actually happening to him was difficult. Jane Russell, of course, made up for this in part. She's a joy to watch and listen to as she sings 'Five Little Miles From San Berdoo' (see below). Both she and Price seem to know exactly what they're starring in while Mitchum's impassiveness is unhelpful. You shouldn't care more about the secondary hero than the main one but I found myself frequently rooting for Mark Cardigan over Dan Milner.

The film really comes alive in the final third when Mark decides to stage a rescue to get Dan Milner off the ship where the crime boss plans to - quite literally - steal his face. Quoting Shakespeare, dressing himself in a cape, leading hapless police into battle, Price is absolutely hilarious. There's a moment where he overloads a boat to the extent that it sinks which is possibly the best moment in the film. The comedy of the hammy actor adds speed to a film that sadly lacked it until this point. I suppose it's tolerable if you're a Robert Mitchum fan but there's too much going on - in a rather boring way - to interest me. I'd watch this again for Russell and Price but I'd probably fast-forward through the first half at least.

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