8 November 2012 | bkoganbing
Those happy carefree days in the Army Air Corps
No one will ever rate The Last Time I Saw Archie as one of Robert Mitchum's greatest films. But it does and Mitchum does have a certain droll quality that makes it passably amusing, at least to me.
This is believe it or not a true story based on the memoir of screenwriter William Bowers played here by Jack Webb who produced and directed the film, on another film person, one Arch Hall, Sr. In real life Hall spent several years trying to make his son Arch Hall, Jr. a film star. He in my opinion topped Ed Wood in the making of bad films that starred his son. If what I saw in the film was any indication of what he was in real life, the senior Hall had to be one of the greatest conmen that ever lived to have wheedled out money from people to produce what he did. Such classics as Eegah and The Choppers are on his list of film credits.
Mitchum plays Hall and from the day he and Webb join the Army Air Corps, Mitchum displays a genius for conning everybody around. People do need at least one confidante in life and Webb kind of falls into the role. Around the same time there was a British film called On The Fiddle which starred a pre-James Bond Sean Connery and there is a lot of similarity.
Any film that has such funny people as Don Knotts, Joe Flynn, Harvey Lembeck,Robert Strauss and Louis Nye is definitely worth a look. None of these guys do their best work in The Last Time I Saw Archie, but still they help moves this film along, especially Lembeck and Strauss as a couple of dimwitted sergeants who are the chief victims of Mitchum's roguish ways. France Nuyen and Martha Hyer nicely decorate the film in the two female roles of size.
Production values were lacking, according to Lee Server's definitive book on Robert Mitchum it only had a four week shooting schedule and it looked like it was mostly shot on a television sound stage. Still it does give us a few chuckles.
But now after seeing this again for the first time in about 35 years and after seeing some of Arch Hall's work on screen I think there definitely is an Oscar winning film here. Johnny Depp, I hope you read this review.