12 June 2006 | bkoganbing
What Plans They Have For Robert Mitchum
In Lee Server's biography about Robert Mitchum the recounting of the making of His Kind of Woman could actually be the basis of an interesting film itself.
Jane Russell of course was the personal creation of Howard Hughes and when Hughes bought RKO Studio, Robert Mitchum was his number one male star. It was only natural that Hughes seek to team them and in fact they do go well together.
But Howard Hughes filmed this thing essentially three times with three different actors playing villain Nick Ferraro a Hollywoodized version of Lucky Luciano. First it was Howard Petrie, then Robert Wilkie, and finally Raymond Burr before Hughes got a Ferraro he liked.
Besides that the original film had few laughs in it and Hughes did get a good streak of inspiration when he hired Vincent Price as the film was being re-shot for the second time and integrated scenes with him into the plot. Price plays a Hollywood swashbuckling movie star, shades of Errol Flynn, who really steals the film from both stars. It's a part that calls for Price to overact outrageously and he does so. His Kind of Woman is worth seeing for him alone.
The basic story has drifter/gambler Robert Mitchum being persuaded with money and other less gentle means to go to a resort located in Baja, California. Of course who's ultimately hired him is our gangster villain Burr and let us say that His Kind of Woman may have been the inspiration for Faces Off with John Travolta and Nicholas Cage a few years ago.
Tim Holt makes a brief appearance here as a Federal cop who warns Mitchum of what is in store for him and gets killed for his trouble. Holt was starring in B westerns for RKO and occasionally doing other film appearances like this one. When he went to war back in the mid Forties, RKO looked around for another replacement to be its B western hero and Mitchum got his first big break and his first starring role. But irony of ironies, Mitchum moved on to bigger and better things and Holt kept grinding out B films that were good, but way beneath his talent.
Other assorted familiar movie faces like Charles McGraw, Marjorie Reynolds, Jim Backus, and Alberto Morin are in His Kind of Woman and give it a comfortable feel.
His Kind of Woman is one of the great noir films ever done, even if it had to be shot over and over to get it right by Mr. Hughes's lights.