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His Kind Of Woman

His Kind Of Woman. Feature film. (1951, 120 mins) IMDB

...A lighter film noir (if that's possible)...

A

n Italian gangster, Nick (Raymond Burr), is kicked out of the US and returned to Sicily. None to happy to lose a substantial source of income, he concocts a plan to return to the US as Dan Milner played by Mitchum. The two have similar builds and looks. All Nick has to do is lure Milner to a Mexican resort where after some plastic surgery, he'll assume Milner's identity and return to the US. That's the plan.

Milner is a small time gambler who is dead broke. Nick's associates in the US make him an offer. They give him $5K and transportation to Mexico. Once there, he'll get more money and further instructions. Since there'd be no movie if he didn't go, Milner packs up and flies south. Along the way, he meets Jane Russell. He's definitely interested in her and we're not entirely sure if she isn't either.

The rest of the movie takes place in an exclusive, expensive resort in Baja. I loved the look of the place. It was clearly all done on a sound stage, not on location, but the design was well ahead of its time.

We meet a boat load of characters. A German writer who turns out to be a plastic surgeon. An investment banker who cheats at cards. Milner is able to help out a young couple who was cheated. There's the staff and others. And Jane Russell who is the sexpod for a Hollywood movie star played by Vincent Price. Price is an Errol Flynn type actor. He's there to be with his lover, Russell, and while he works out a divorce, he spends his days going out hunting deer and duck. This set-up is required because Price plays a part of the shootout that ends the movie.

There is also an FBI agent hot on the trail, but he is easily killed and removed from the picture.

Russell and Mitchum spend a lot of time together and they do end up together at the end. She's definitely not hard to look at and while this has elements of a film noir, it really isn't. Hell, there are three scenes where she sings. I didn't know she was a singer.

Act III is about Nick's boat arriving from Europe. With its arrival, Milner is taken aboard to be drugged or killed or they aren't quite sure. There are lots of fights and escapes. Milner is captured and held. Nick decides since Milner is of no further use, he's going to kill him. Just shot him. But there's ten minutes to go in the film and the good guy can't die and there's no escape for him. Enter the-bad-guy-speech except in this instance there's a variation. Milner is brought to Nick where he will kill Milner. He has the handgun ready to shot, but, wait, he won't kill him until Milner wakes up. He was to be conscious to see what's going to happen to him. Of course, this delay gives Price and his recruits time to board a launch and attack the boat.

Our hero lives long enough to fight. And yes he kills Nick and saves Price. Although Price gets his share of kills and shows a reckless bravery.

While this film is a drama, it's a light drama with lots of quiet moments, slow moments, even farcical moments, but it's not dull or uninteresting. And if you ever get the notion of drifting off, just focus on Jane Russell.

Posted 2009/02/16 at 19h10ET in Movie Commentary.

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