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Star Scholar Contribution

Vol. 17 No. 1 (2023): New Lenses on Old Hollywood

The Wayward Pleasures of "His Kind of Woman"

May 13, 2023


Nobody would pick His Kind of Woman (1951) as one of the ten best films of all time, but for me it has long been a kind of comfort food. An unusual mixture of noir, comedy, music, and romance, it benefits from the chemistry of Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, from the comic/heroic turn of Vincent Price as an aging movie actor, and above all from John Farrow’s direction and screenwriter Frank Fenton’s wit. It was marred in some ways by producer Howard Hughes, who kept recasting the villain and called in the uncredited Richard Fleischer to direct new climactic scenes aboard a new set—a full-scale ocean-going yacht on a water tank at the back lot of RKO. Hughes rewrote some of the dialog and pressured the reluctant Fleischer to pump up the violence, sadism, and comic heroics of Price. All this didn’t spoil the picture, but it did alter the overall tone, departing from the charming, almost leisurely melding of Farrow’s tracking camera with shifts between the glamourous, the tuneful, the witty, and the sinister.