Mitchell (1975) (part 2 of 8)

Later that day, we pan across Cummings’ house and find Mitchell sitting in a car with another cop named Tyzack. Tyzack gives a long-winded, semi-coherent explanation of why Mitchell has to watch Cummings, which has something to do with a stolen shipment of heroin coming in from Mexico. He warns Mitchell that “Leaning on Cummings is no joke, my friend. No one leans on Cummings, ’cause he stamps on people! And he’s got a big shoe!” Wow, prime Tough Cop talk!

Mitchell wants to know if the other cop would call this a “good assignment” but Tyzack says the Chief is just “quietly shipping you out of the way.” Mitchell says this makes him all the more determined to get both Cummings and Deaney, but the other cop says he probably won’t get either. Mitchell responds with something I can’t even make out. It may not be “Manos” quality, but the sound on this movie is quite poor, making the plot even more incomprehensible than it was already.

Mitchell gets out of the car and gets into another one that has conveniently been pre-parked at the stakeout location. Right on cue, Cummings’ car pulls into the driveway. Mitchell immediately runs up, huffing and puffing like he’s just seconds away from a heart attack. He flashes an ID card [?] and says he wants to talk to Cummings. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of a stakeout that the criminals don’t know the cops are there?

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Cummings proves to be played by our resident Embarrassed Actor™, Martin Balsam. Some of his better roles include the police chief in the original Cape Fear and Juror One in 12 Angry Men. Slightly less embarrassed is his henchman Benton, who’s played by former pro footballer and floral spokesman Merlin Olsen.

Cummings brushes off Mitchell by saying that something that sounds like “penance” isn’t due for a month, and Benton points at Mitchell and says, “No salesmen at this entrance!” [?] Disheartened, Mitchell wanders back to his car and lights a cigarette, but his lighter goes up like a torch and nearly burns his face off. Get used to the wacky antics of Mitchell in his car, because they’re not stopping any time soon.

Mitchell (1975) (part 2 of 8)

“If you call me Father Murphy, I’m kickin’ your ass.”

Some time later, Benton watches as Mitchell empties his ashtray out in the street. This does little to make us like Mitchell. Benton tells his boss Cummings about this, so Cummings goes down to Mitchell’s car.

Mitchell asks Cummings about “Mistretta, and some heroin hijacked out of Mexico!” Of course, the name “Mistretta” only came up before when Deaney was talking on the Batphone, and in that particular scene Deaney was all by himself. So how did Mitchell learn about Mistretta? We never find out.

Mitchell continues, actually cracking up laughing when he talks about how the heroin shipment was hijacked. Cummings says, “Look Mitchell, this is Los Angeles, California. Now I don’t know anything about any heroin, or somebody’s got his wires crossed.” I’m not sure what being in Los Angeles has to do with it. Mitchell asserts that he’s going to keep watching him, and Cummings’ response is, “Can I give you some advice, son?” He leans in close and tells him to “watch out for falling rocks.” [?] This line never becomes important. And yes, after Cummings walks away Mitchell actually does look up.

Mitchell (1975) (part 2 of 8)

And in other news, yet another kid set himself on fire in an attempt to copy Mitchell!

At midnight, Mitchell calls it a day and drives off, and there’s a very quick, awkward pan over to Cummings standing in his window. As soon as Mitchell’s gone, Cummings calls Mistretta, and we learn that Cummings really didn’t know anything about the heroin deal he’s supposed to be involved in. Is keeping your distributors in the dark really the best way to smuggle drugs? Cummings tells Mistretta to come over, which is followed by a cut to Mistretta instantly arriving like one of the taxis on The Prisoner.

Cummings gets in the car and tells Mistretta to just drive around the block. He gets mighty pissed that he hasn’t been notified yet about the heroin shipment headed his way, and tells Mistretta to send them someplace else because he’s got a “cop on my tail”.

Mistretta says it’s too late, and that the drugs are already heading into his port because Mr. Gallano said so. Cummings then refuses to touch the drugs when they come in. Mistretta suddenly gets cultured when he says, “You are not in a position to say such things.” Again, you’d think that for a deal this big, Mistretta might have at least mentioned it in passing to Cummings first. When they get back to his house, Cummings gets out and makes the rather vague statement, “I say it boy, because I mean it!”

Meanwhile, Mitchell drives up to Walter “forget about” Deaney’s house, and calls in on his radio where he is and that he’s locking his gun in the glove compartment. The dispatcher actually asks, “What’s that supposed to mean?” so Mitchell replies that if he gets shot, they’ll know he was unarmed at the time. I’m guessing he wants to test his theory about how the burglar was shot, but wouldn’t a cop breaking into someone’s house for this purpose pretty much constitute entrapment? Man, Mitchell’s getting even more unlikable by the minute.

He then jumps the front gate, and amusingly, he seems to actually wait until a couple of cars are around before he does it. He then rings the front doorbell and hides. It’s an oldie but a goodie! Only, he forgot the flaming bag of poop.

After a couple seconds, Mitchell decides not to wait around anymore and heads around back. He eats up some more screen time sneaking around, then punches through the broken window in the back door, revealing that it was covered over in tin foil [!]. Man, Deaney just can’t catch a break here!

Mitchell (1975) (part 2 of 8)

Walter Deaney, master of flimsy barriers.

Deaney secretly watches from the shadows as Mitchell proceeds to lie down [!] in the tape outline of the body. I’m assuming this is to measure its relative height or something. I guess just looking at the police report is for baby face cops, not cops on the edge.

Then Mitchell goes to the gun cabinet, and discovers that the burglar was indeed too short to reach the one loaded gun. Suddenly, a passing car illuminates Deaney pointing a gun at him, so Mitchell makes a run for it. Why didn’t Deaney just shoot Mitchell while he was lying down? Who knows.

Even now, he forgoes an easy shot as he chases Mitchell through the house. This is meant to be a big “action” scene, and we know this because the blaring horns and walk-a-chicken guitars start up again as they both run through the house.

Mitchell traps Deaney behind the same lattice doors that Deaney trapped the burglar behind (Wow!). Just like the burglar, rather than simply charging through the flimsy woodwork, Deaney heads around the back, giving Mitchell time to get to his car and escape. And there it is. Our first big action scene. Electrifying, huh?

Ryan Lohner

Ryan lives in Sparta, New Jersey, a quaint little burg without much for kids to do except go to the movies. Thus began a lifelong love affair, as even back then he grew to love examining why a film worked, or didn't. He is a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, and currently studying for a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science. His hobbies include running, piano, and annoying people with that damn lowercase forum user name.

Multi-Part Article: Mitchell (1975)

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