His Kind of Woman (1951)

His Kind of Woman (1951), directed by John Farrow and Richard Fleischer.

This is an odd production. Sometimes seeming tongue-in-cheek, any violence completely off-screen, until the last act when it turns brutally sadistic. The modern Mexican resort looks like a romantic comedy setting, until we go indoors and those noirish shadows play on the ceiling.

What happened: RKO owner Howard Hughes become obsessed with the film late in production, replaced director Farrow with Richard Fleischer and did extensive reshoots and modification of the story. You can see the exact moment where he takes control: it turns into an action plot and no longer makes any logical sense.

Robert Mitchum is comfortably at home in his character, the relaxed professional gambler and tough guy who knows the score. Until they make an offer he is not allowed to refuse: go to the Mexican resort and wait. For what? They won't say. We have to figure it out with him.

He falls in with singing rich girl Jane Russell, her impressive décolletage concealed with frills, per the film censor's orders. We hope she is not part of the conspiracy.

It's hard to know how to take Russell as an actress. Beautiful, intelligent and famously full-figured, she seems hard sometimes but is likable here. She and Mitchum have warm chemistry. She does her own singing in this one.

Vincent Price is a hoot as a ham actor and big game hunter who becomes a comical but effective action hero.

A good set of tough guys supporting: Tim Holt, Charles McGraw, Raymond Burr, Anthony Caruso.

At first, Leigh Harline's score sounded like Miklós Rózsa to me. It's the genre.

Available on DVD. The commentary track is pretty bland until we get to the last section and she gives much detail on Hughes' insane degree of meddling with the production. He added Raymond Burr's part and all that material had to be reshot. He vastly inflated Vincent Price's comic action role.

All of the violence and sadism was at his specific insistence. He wanted to reshoot everything on the yacht because he thought a ladder was on the wrong side of the ship. They finally talked him out of that.

The censor was definite about cuts they wanted made but he ignored them and got away with it. I don't know why Jane Russell had to wear frills to cover her cleavage; he'd used her to push back against the censors before.