09/08/2014

His Kind Of Woman (1951)

It’s no surprise to learn that RKO boss Howard Hughes had a meddling hand in this oddball noir from John Farrow. What starts out as a fairly routine hot climate crime caper (in which Bob Mitchum’s no-luck gambler is dispatched to a Mexican holiday resort to greet a powerful mystery man arriving by sea) ends up becoming a wildly eccentric soapbox for Vincent Price. The great ham grandstands as film actor Mark Cardigan, who overcomes a sunken dinghy to lead a motley crew of hotel workers to Mitchum’s rescue from duplicitous gangsters.

The corking Jane Russell provides the love interest, wearing little and prowling about the place like a lynx. Until, that is, she is unceremoniously locked in a closet by Price, whose whimsical thesp longs for a real adventure after a lifetime of play-acting. The supporting cast is of a high calibre too, with Tim Holt, Charles McGraw, Raymond Burr and Jim Backus all showing up to add menace and texture. It’s a strange concoction, all told, and hard to know where Farrow’s work ends and Richard Fleischer’s begins (the latter drafted in by Hughes to tinker). His Kind Of Woman has gained a cult following over the decades and I’d say it deserves it. The closing metaphor of the steam iron burning a hole through Mitchum’s pants sums its humour up nicely.

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