Tag Archives: Robert Mitchum

Farewell, My Lovely (1975)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Searching for missing lady.

Based on the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name the story centers on private eye Phillip Marlowe who meets Moose Malloy (Jack O’Halloran) a recently released convict that asks Phillip to find his girlfriend Velma who worked as a dancer at a nightclub, but who has now gone missing. Marlowe decides to take the case, but finds a wide array of strange clues that leads him on a bizarre trail that has many twists.

The novel was filmed before in 1944 as Murder, My Sweet that starred Dick Powell, which has become a classic. This remake was noted for being able to stay closer to the source novel by retaining aspects of the story that was considered too provocative for 1940’s standards, but the edition of these elements really doesn’t make the mystery any more interesting. The direction doesn’t convey any feel for the material and despite the intricate plot everything plods along at a rather mundane pace. I also never really felt that the setting effectively reflected the 40’s as much as it could’ve.

The biggest issue though is Mitchum. The guy is certainly a legendary actor and his performance here isn’t bad I actually thought his timing with the way he conveys his lines was on-target, but he’s just way too old for the role. In the novel Marlowe was described as being in his 30’s, but Mitchum was 57 and looking more like 67. The guy comes-off as washed-up with no charisma, or ability to win a fight even though he does get into a few altercations anyways, which doesn’t seem believable.

The eclectic supporting cast is the only thing that makes it mildly interesting. Sylvia Miles got nominated for supporting actress Oscar as a lonely alcoholic lady with a secret, but I actually enjoyed Charlotte Rampling as a beautiful, but cold and conniving gold digger much better. It’s also great to see Kate Murtagh as this overweight woman who runs a whorehouse. Fat woman are usually never given prominent roles in most Hollywood films, but here she plays an intriguing part that culminates with a surreal, nightmarish segment that helps give the film a little extra verve that’s otherwise missing.

The film also has a couple of great cameos. One features Sylvester Stallone in a non-speaking role as a thug, which was just before he broke it big with Rocky. I found the cameo though by author Jim Thompson, who’s best known for writing such novels as ‘The Getaway’ and ‘Pop. 1280’ to be far more interesting. He plays the elderly husband to Rampling and the scene where he opens up a door to find her kissing Mitchum on a couch and all he does his just shut the door back-up and leave to be the funniest moment in the movie.

The budget should’ve been bigger as it’s not stylish. If you’re going to redo a classic you’ve got to go all-out, but the effort here is half-hearted. Yet despite this the producers forged ahead with another Marlowe film that had Mitchum again playing the part. That one was called The Big Sleep and will be reviewed later this month.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: August 8, 1975

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Dick Richards

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

Going Home (1971)

going-home

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Father and son reunite.

One night during a drunken rage Harry Graham (Robert Mitchum) kills his wife (Sally Kirkland), which gets witnessed by their 7-year-old son Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent). 13 years later Harry is paroled and Jimmy uses this opportunity to try and reconcile with his father and find out why he did it, but Harry has moved on. He has a new job and a girlfriend named Jenny (Brenda Vaccaro) and when Jimmy appears it creates an awkward tension that gets progressively worse.

One of the biggest problems with this film is that the characters and their motivations are not fleshed out enough and their actions make little sense. I’ve watched a lot of true-life crime shows and have found that in cases where this situation has occurred in real-life that the adult child will usually cease communication with their father and completely disown them, so it seemed strange why Jimmy would want to restart their relationship. If he was curious to know why Harry did it then he could’ve simply written him a letter with that question, which he never bothered to do while the man was incarcerated.

The film also fails to show what happened to Jimmy during the time Harry was in prison. He is shown arriving at an orphanage, but nothing about what does when he gets there or being put into a foster home and getting adoptive parents, or moving in with relatives, which is what usually occurs. He somehow has no friends or job and if this is because of his childhood trauma then it should get explained or more strongly implied, but it isn’t and it leaves a big void in the story.

Harry’s actions are equally confusing. The murder gets played out at the beginning and we see the stabbed mother crawl down the stairs and beg Jimmy for help and then Harry comes down and looks at the dead body before turning towards the boy with a guilty expression, but if  he feels so bad about what he has just done and the traumatic impact he’s put his son through then he should’ve thought of that beforehand. I would’ve expected to see a completely different set of emotions in the man’s eyes like anger, rage, insanity or even fear because now he knows he’ll will be going to prison, but guilt wouldn’t play into it, at least not that quickly if ever.

Mitchum’s character is straddled with conveying only one emotion throughout, which is guilt. We never tap into the other side of the man that propelled him to commit such a heinous act and his explanation, which is that he ‘just got drunk’ is insufficient. The character also pops up too conveniently at times. One moment is when Jimmy goes back to their former home, which has now been turned into a whorehouse and he hides in the basement. Harry comes looking for him and despite the fact that there are many people there and it’s a large place he immediately goes to the cellar, but how would he have known to look there? Another segment has him magically coming to Jimmy’s rescue when his son is accosted by a group of sailors underneath a boardwalk even though he was bowling in another building and would have no way of knowing what was occurring outside.

The film has solid production values and director Herbert B. Leonard shows flair with the location shooting, which was done in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There is also a good scene inside a chicken coop  and actor Josh Mostel (Zero’s son) has an interesting film debut playing Harry’s young, flippant parole officer who delights in demeaning his client as much as possible, but the story leaves open too many unanswered questions and isn’t impactful or relevant.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 1, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated GP

Director: Herbert B. Leonard

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD-R (Warner Archive)

The Grass is Greener (1960)

grass is greener

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: They all fool around.

Hilary (Deborah Kerr) is married to Victor (Cary Grant) and they are low on funds so they give guided tours of their castle in order to make ends meet. Then one day rich American businessman Charles Delarco (Robert Mitchum) stops by and takes an immediate liking to Hilary and her to him. Soon they are having an affair and Victor along with his friend Hattie (Jean Simmons) devises a plan to win her back.

The film starts out well with a funny montage of cute babies in goofy poises shown during the opening credits, but then things go rapidly and irrevocably flat. One of the main problems is that there is simply too much talking and most of it isn’t funny or engaging. In fact none of the conversations between any of the four leads is interesting. The best dialogue in the whole film is the ones between Victor and his butler Trevor (Moray Watson) who is doing the job while working on his novel.  I wished there had been more of Trevor and that the story had revolved around him as the rest is trite and predictable.

Mitchum just doesn’t seem right as the love interest. He is best in parts requiring a rugged or villainous character as his romantic appeal is lacking. I actually thought he came off as downright creepy especially with the way he barges into Hillary’s room unannounced and is reluctant to immediately leave when he realizes he has walked into the wrong place. Most women would have considered him a stalker and his squinty eyes don’t help things.

I also thought Hillary throws herself at him a little too quickly. He is a stranger who pops out of nowhere. The two have a boring ten minute conversation and then are in a passionate embrace. Victor tries like crazy to win her back while I’m thinking why bother keeping a woman who jumps at any man who has money. Might as well just hire a good lawyer and take the hussy for all she’s worth.

The fact that Victor immediately figures out about the affair was another negative in my opinion as it doesn’t allow for hundreds of potential comic scenarios of them carrying on behind his back. As it is scenarios of any kind are woefully lacking. There is one scene where Victor takes Charles out fishing and another where they have a dual, but both end up being much too brief. For the most part it is just a static filmed stage play with background sets that a boring and color that looks faded and washed out.

Of course I did like Cary it is hard to dislike him simply because he is so good at being Cary. If anything his charm manages to keep this waterlogged thing afloat. Simmons isn’t bad either. I loved her variety of outfits and spunky personality. Kerr though looks and acts tired and not able to keep up with the comic timing of the other two.

If you like an old-fashioned but still very tasteful bedroom farce then this would at best be passable although Grant fans may like it a bit more while others will find it stagnant.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: December 23, 1960

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Stanley Donen

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video