Saturday, September 3, 2016

His Kind Of Woman (1951) movie review

His Kind Of Woman (1951)

Joe Dante is mostly known for directing the mega hit Gremlins, but he has also directed many other films of note.  Recently BAM (The Brooklyn Academy Of Music) did a retrospective of his films :

Joe Dante at the Movies

and TV work, plus offered to show some films that Joe Dante was a fan of, or that influenced him.  There were multiple double features, and some pretty great stuff was shown.  He even showed up for some screenings, did a Q&A after a showing of his work print of Gremlins, and introduced a couple of screenings as well.  I got to meet him and chat with him, and he is not only a great guy, but very down to earth, personable, and very aware.  Talking with him felt like talking with any of my other movie obsessed friends, except that he has been amazingly successful, unlike the rest of us!

This night's double feature was sort of a triple feature.  First up was His Kind Of Woman, followed by two episodes of Masters Of Horror, both directed by Joe Dante.  His Kind Of Woman is a slightly bizarre film.  It has a great cast, with Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Jim Backus, Raymond Burr, and to top it off, Vincent Price!  Here Vincent Price plays a rare non horror character, instead, playing a egomaniac actor who is in love with himself.

The plot, which is more than a bit convoluted,  has to do with a mob guy who has fled to Italy and is not allowed back in the US.  He concocts a scheme to get back into the US, and that's where Robert Mitchum's character comes in.  Robert Mitchum is offered money to go to a resort in Mexico, and hang around for a while.  He is told he won't be able to come back for a year or so, but he gets $50,000 in return for this.  He takes the offer as he is broke, and on the way he meets a woman, played by Jane Russell.  When they get to the resort, he meets Jim Backus, a rich real estate guy who is also a gambler.  There is also Vincent Price, an actor who Jane Russell is trying to get back together with, even though he is still married.  All the while Robert Mitchum doesn't REALLY know what's going on, but he keeps trying to find out anyways.

Now, this is where I will stop with the plot, except to mention there are like 5 more sub plots, and the whole thing is a bit of a mess.  To be honest, the whole film is a mess, in so many ways.  While Mia Farrow's father John Farrow is listed as the director, after he finished shooting the film and went home, Howard Hughes, the millionaire producer of the film, decided to bring in Richard Fleischer to shoot a couple extra scenes, and supposedly he re-shot much of the film. 

So while the movie starts off like many typical noir films, it slowly turns into a noir comedy of sorts, partially intentionally, due to Vincent Price taking over the film by the end, and partially by mistake, with scenes that run way too long, or are just ridiculous.  And while all this nonsense and silliness was going on, I was oddly enough loving the results!  At 2 hours long, this one IS a bit too long, and shaving off 15-30 minutes would have made a much tighter and more enjoyable movie, but the is one where the sum of the parts equals more than it should. 

All in all I really enjoyed this uneven mess, and suggest anyone who enjoys entertaining train wrecks to try and catch this movie when it plays.

8 out of 10 stars.

Location : BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) , theater 2, Brooklyn, NYC
Date and time : Thursday, August 23rd, 2016 at 7 PM
Format : 16mm
Audience : about 40 people