Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mitchell (1975)

One of the least interesting entries in the ’70s cycle of action movies about cops behaving as lawlessly as the criminals they pursue, Mitchell features a disjointed storyline, lackluster action scenes, and perfunctory acting. The movie is more or less coherent, but it’s also boring, clichéd, and stupid. Hulking B-movie star Joe Don Baker plays the title character, a dim-bulb detective who gets mixed up with sophisticated crooks, so the bulk of the story involves Baker’s character trying to outwit people whose intellects greatly surpass his own. This sort of premise worked well in a zillion other movies; for instance, Baker offered an entertaining, Southern-fried spin on similar material in Walking Tall (1973). Yet everything about Mitchell feels half-assed. Baker isn’t the right casting for a tough city cop, since he’s unmistakably a good ol’ boy from Texas, and he plays nearly every scene like light comedy, even though death and destruction follow in his wake. As directed by the normally reliable Andrew V. McLaglen, Mitchell wobbles between escapism and seriousness, so it seems likely that many of the film’s tonal problems emerged during postproduction. After all, there’s no excuse for the inclusion of cornpone country singer Hoyt Axton’s lackadaisical theme song during a lengthy love scene between Baker and leading lady Linda Evans—for several excruciating minutes, Mitchell becomes the equivalent of the worst type of Burt Reynolds romp. Future Dynasty star Evans is as forgettable as always, while the actors playing the villains—the great Martin Balsam and the emphatic John Saxon—are wasted in one-dimensional roles. (Saxon’s big scene is a silly chase involving dune buggies.) Virtually nothing in Mitchell works, and the climax is beyond ludicrous. Baker’s character commandeers a helicopter to chase after bad guys who are in a boat, transfers from the helicopter to the boat, and takes out a henchman with a metal hook. All the while, the main villain simply stands at the boat’s controls, waiting to get shot instead of taking defensive action. But then again, seeing as how he’s stuck in an awful movie, can you blame him?

Mitchell: LAME


Cindylover1969 said...

Linda Evans was in "Dynasty," not "Dallas."

Kevin Mac said...

This got a great lampooning on MST3K, with Joel and the bots groaning and at one point actually screaming out in horror during the mentioned sex scene (most repellent moment...Joe Don nabbing a partial six pack with his toes off the nightstand for a mid-session beer chug.

During one of the chases, the Bots sang "...heart pounding; veins clogging...Mitchell!"