Mitchell (1975) (part 8 of 8)
The helicopter comes around again and Benton nearly gets whacked in the face with the Yellow Thing. Then Mitchell lowers himself down on a rope to the boat and the helicopter flies off. So, it’s finally time for the face-off between Joe Don Baker and the villain’s heavy. Think it’ll be worth the wait? Read on.
Mitchell starts the fight by whacking Benton with some kind of white two by four and knocking his rifle loose. Then they tussle for the rifle and it somehow ends up on the upper deck. Mitchell slams his elbow backwards into Benton’s gut and Benton acts like he’s been hit, although it’s obvious Mitchell totally whiffed it.
Some more awkwardly choreographed moves later, and Benton retrieves the rifle, but Mitchell somehow sneaks up behind him and strangles him with a rope, causing him to lose the rifle again. Man, this boat has everything you need for a fight! Benton again turns the tables by elbowing Mitchell twice in the crotch. These do seem to actually connect, making this another perversely watchable moment.
They both end up down on the lower deck again, and Benton manages to grab the rifle again, but Mitchell utilizes a time-tested vaudeville move by tripping him with something that looks just like a shepherd’s crook [?].
He then takes things a little further by scraping the hook across Benton’s chest. Benton gets up and starts strangling Mitchell, but just suddenly dies [!?] before he can finish the job. Oh, boo! Naturally, Benton falls off the boat and plunges into the water. Mitchell then rips a belt out of the motor and the boat grinds to a halt.
Okay, I’m just going to spell out what happens in this next part for a little experiment. As the boat floats there, Cummings realizes Benton is dead, so he yells out to Mitchell, offering him half the money to stop the whole thing. As proof of his goodwill, he comes out on deck and tosses away his gun, but he really has another one. As he steps out, Mitchell gets the drop on him and shoots him right in the forehead.
Okay, those of you who have seen Key Largo are probably ripping your hair out now, so I’ve succeeded. Yes, substitute McCloud and Rocco for Mitchell and Cummings, and you have the end of that classic film. However, the difference is that McCloud knew Rocco had a second gun, whereas Mitchell couldn’t possibly tell this from his vantage point. This makes the comeuppance of this film’s main villain seem like pure cheating.
Well, that was pretty bad but… Wait, there’s more? Okay, I want overtime pay for this. We waste some more time watching Mitchell walking to his apartment and somehow getting the idea that someone is inside. After busting in while crouched way down low, he finds Greta in bed, and gets her on her knees with her hands on top of her head while he searches the rest of the place.
Throughout the whole thing, Greta has a wonderful Pia Zadora-esque blank look on her face that is rather appropriate. Mitchell says the door was locked and asks how she got in. She reaches over and holds up a key on the night stand. Yeah, that explains how. What I want to know is why, but this is left unasked.
He yells at her for going in the kitchen, and she says she had to eat. We get a look at the kitchen, and bizarrely find that she’s completely trashed it, Charlie Sheen-style. He tells her, “You could at least have cleaned the dishes!” and she points out there’s no washing machine. He sets her straight about how to do so without using a machine. He refrains from adding “woman” to the end of it, so there’s that. Then he heads into the shower, much to Greta’s chagrin for some reason.
In an odd David Lynch-style pan, we go from the closed kitchen doors to Mitchell heading out of the bathroom in a robe to indicate the passage of time. Oh, auteur! He lies face down on the bed and writhes around like he thinks Greta’s underneath him. It’s just as disturbing without her. Greta begs to be allowed into bed, and moves her head really close to his for some reason.
We discover the real reason she’s attracted to Mitchell when he smells pot on her breath, and sure enough, he finds some in the trash. Joe Don’s voice somehow becomes a few octaves higher as he drags Greta off the bed and we freeze-frame on her shocked face. Man, double-standard zero tolerance is even funnier the second time around! Over the credits, Hoyt Axton’s “Mitchell” theme plays again, but it’s worth it to see that Cummings is misspelled as “Cummins”.
In case I’ve given anyone the wrong idea, I should note that I have nothing against movies with complicated plots that require repeat viewings. Hell, one of my favorite movies is The Usual Suspects. However, you actually have to want to watch them again, and with Mitchell you don’t.
Plus, I actually have watched this movie repeatedly to write this thing, and I still haven’t figured out how the film’s two distinct plots are related. We know there’s a connection because of Deaney’s meeting with Cummings, but what exactly that connection was is never explained.
This makes it even more obvious that one of these plots, most likely Deaney’s because of its limited screen time, could be jettisoned entirely to make the movie a little easier to follow. Also, I wonder about what happened to the actual heroin. I guess we’re meant to think that Mitchell dutifully brought it to the police station, but the fact that we don’t see this happen gives the impression that he now has his own private stash.
Some believe that this was actually supposed to be the pilot for an Eischeid-type cop show, and the best evidence for this is the presence of the mob boss Gallano. After his one scene, he presumably gets away scott-free, so it’s not difficult to imagine he was meant to become Mitchell’s Wo Fat. Still, we have what we have, and I thank Joe Don for giving us a great MST3k episode, and for giving Joel Hodgson such a good farewell.