AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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His Kind of Woman
Alternate Title: Killer with a Smile
Director: John Farrow (Dir)
Release Date:   25 Aug 1951
Premiere Information:   Philadelphia, PA opening: 15 Aug 1951
Production Date:   10 Apr--23 May 1950; addl scenes began 30 Jan 1951
Duration (in mins):   120
Duration (in feet):   10,792
Duration (in reels):   13
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Cast:   Robert Mitchum (Dan Milner)  
    Jane Russell (Lenore Brent, previously known as Liz Brady)  
    Vincent Price (Mark Cardigan)  
    Tim Holt (Bill Lusk)  
    Charles McGraw (Thompson)  
    Marjorie Reynolds (Helen Cardigan)  
    Raymond Burr (Nick Ferraro)  
    Leslye Banning (Jennie Stone)  
    Jim Backus (Myron Winton)  
    Philip Van Zandt (José Morro)  
    John Mylong (Martin Krafft)  
    Carleton G. Young (Gerald Hobson)  
    Erno Verebes (Estaban)  
    Dan White (Tex Kearns)  
    Richard Berggren (Milton Stone)  
    Stacy Harris (Harry)  
    Robert Cornthwaite (Hernandez)  
    James Burke (Barkeep)  
    Paul Frees (Corle)  
    Joe Granby (Arnold)  
    Daniel De Laurentis (Mexican boy)  
    John Sheehan (Husband)  
    Sally Yarnell (Wife)  
    Anthony Caruso (Tony)  
    Robert Rose (Corle's servant)  
    Tol Avery (The fat one)  
    Paul Fierro (Hoodlum)  
    Mickey Simpson (Hoodlum)  
    Ed Rand (Policeman)  
    Jerry James (Policeman)  
    Joel Fluellen (Sam)  
    Len Hendry (Customer)  
    Joey Ray (Card player)  
    Dorothy Abbott (Card player)  
    Barry Brooks (Card player)  
    Gwen Caldwell (Guest)  
    Oliver Cross (Guest)  
    Don House (Guest)  
    Barbara Freking (Girl)  
    Joan Olander (Girl)  
    Joy Windsor (Girl)  
    Jerri Jordan (Girl)  
    Mary Brewer (Girl)  
    Maria Sen Young (Chinese waitress)  
    Marietta Elliott (Redhead)  
    Saul Gorss (Viscount)  
    Gerry Ganzer (Countess Marie Duvarre)  
    Dan Borzage (Bartender)  
    Mike Lally (Henchman)  
    Peter Brocco (Short and thin)  
    Ralph Gomez (Mexican foreman)  
    Howard Batt (Plane pilot)  
    Albert Morin (Rodriguez)  
    William Justine (Gyppo)  
    Bill Nelson (Capt. Salazarr)  
    Bud Wolfe (Seaman)  
    Henry Guttman    
    Stuart Holmes    
    Jim Davies    
    Mamie Van Doren    

Summary: Gangster Nick Ferraro, who has been living in Naples since his deportation from the United States, is anxious to return to the States to put his lucrative enterprises in order. To accomplish this, he and his cohorts in the States and Mexico--Corle, Thompson and Martin Krafft--select an unwitting gambler named Dan Milner, whose weight and height match Ferraro's, to provide Ferraro with a new identity. Corle offers Dan $50,000 to go to Mexico for a year, without revealing who is paying him or why. Broke, Dan accepts the initial $20,000 payment and travels to Nogales, Mexico, to receive further instructions. While waiting for a plane to take him to his final destination, Dan meets Lenore Brent, a beautiful heiress and polished singer. To his surprise, he and Lenore board the same charter plane, which Dan finally learns is headed for Morro's Lodge in Baja California. At the remote, exclusive resort, owner José Morro questions Dan about his background, while guest Myron Winton, an investment banker, fills him in on some of the lodge's more mysterious guests, including Krafft, who is posing as a chess-playing writer. Dan then meets Hollywood actor Mark Cardigan, who is also an avid hunter. Dan soon becomes suspicious of Krafft and Thompson after he discovers they have bungalows next to his. Anxious to know what is going on, Dan confronts Krafft and the gun-wielding Thompson, who give him another $10,000 and assure him that he will find out more from a man who is en route to the lodge. The next day, after noticing Myron flirting with Jennie Stone, an unhappy newlywed, Dan deduces that Lenore is having an affair with Mark. Unknown to Dan, Lenore is actually Liz Brady, a former singer who is posing as an heiress in order to marry Mark, who is estranged from his wife Helen. After the soft-hearted Dan helps Jennie's husband Milton beat Myron at poker and thereby eliminate his debt to the banker, he asks Morro about the man he is to meet. Morro claims ignorance, then tries to discourage a drunk pilot, Bill Lusk, from landing at the resort, as a serious storm is approaching. Dan and Lenore watch Bill crash-land near the lodge, and in the moonlight, Dan impulsively kisses Lenore. The next day, Mark's personal manager, Gerald Hobson, arrives at the lodge with Helen, who has halted her divorce proceedings and wants to rejoin her husband. Mark rejects the idea, even though Gerald warns him that his publicized affair with Lenore could cost him his career. Dan then corners Bill and accuses him of faking his drunkenness. Bill confesses that he is an undercover Immigration Department agent and reveals that Dan has sold his identity to a notorious gangster, who has hired Krafft, an ex-Nazi plastic surgeon, to alter his face to resemble Dan's. Despite Bill's warnings, Dan refuses to cooperate with the agent, and later, while searching Morro's office, Bill is caught by Thompson and murdered. After Dan and Lenore come across Bill's body on the beach, Dan orders Lenore to leave the lodge out of concern for her safety. In his bungalow, Dan then is accosted by Thompson and two thugs and announces he is backing out of the deal. The thugs outdraw Dan, but Dan is able to alert Lenore to his predicament before he is forced into the boat that is to take him to Ferraro's yacht. Lenore entreats Mark to come to Dan's rescue, and Mark, anxious to prove he is a genuine hero, eagerly accepts the challenge. Dan, meanwhile, manages to escape from Thompson and swim to shore, but as soon as he tells Mark that the man on the boat is Ferraro, he sneaks back onto the yacht. Dan is soon being chased by the ship's crew and, despite shooting holes in the ship's steam pipes, is captured and brought to Ferraro. The gangster condemns Dan as a "welcher" and orders his men to beat him, then forces him to repair the steam pipes. Meanwhile, on the beach, Mark uses his hunting skills to pick off Thompson and his cohorts and leads the Mexican police and some volunteer fighters to Ferraro's yacht. Realizing that his scheme is doomed, Ferraro prepares to shoot Dan, but is stopped by the arrival of Mark and the police. While they and the ship's crew engage in a gunfight on the deck, Krafft suggests to Ferraro that he can inject Dan with some anesthesia, which will render him helpless and cause him to develop amnesia and die within a year. Desperate, Ferraro orders that Dan be injected, but Dan struggles and prevents the needle from pricking his skin. Ferraro and his men are finally routed, and later, while the Shakespeare-quoting Mark is hailed as a real hero by the press, Lenore, who has confessed her impersonation, gives up her gold-digging ways and pledges herself to Dan. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A John Farrow Production
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: John Farrow (Dir)
  Sam Ruman (Asst dir)
  Frank Bauer (Asst dir)
Producer: Howard Hughes (Pres)
  Robert Sparks (Prod)
Writer: Frank Fenton (Wrt)
  Jack Leonard (Wrt)
Photography: Harry J. Wild (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  J. McMillan Johnson (Prod des)
Film Editor: Eda Warren (Film ed)
  Frederic Knudtson (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Ross Dowd (Set dec)
  Chester Maydol (Paintings)
Costumes: Howard Greer (Miss Russell's gowns by)
Music: Leigh Harline (Mus)
  C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
Sound: John Tribby (Sd)
  Clem Portman (Sd)
Make Up: Mel Berns (Makeup artist)
  Larry Germain (Hairstylist)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Five Little Miles from San Berdoo," words and music by Sam Coslow; "You'll Know," words and music by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson.
Composer: Harold Adamson
  Sam Coslow
  Jimmy McHugh

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 19/8/1951 dd/mm/yyyy LP1177

PCA NO: 14533
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System
  b&w:

 
Genre: Film noir
Sub-Genre: with songs
 
Subjects (Major): Gamblers
  Gangsters
  Impersonation and imposture
  Mexico
  Motion picture actors and actresses
  Romance
 
Subjects (Minor): Airplanes
  Bankers
  Drugging
  Drunkenness
  Exiles
  Fights
  Gold diggers
  Government agents
  Gunfights
  Hunting
  Infidelity
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Murder
  Newlyweds
  Naples (Italy)
  Plastic surgeons
  Poker (Game)
  Police
  Resorts
  William Shakespeare
  Singers
  Syringes
  Talent agents
  Wives
  Yachts and yachting

Note: The working titles of this film were Smiler with a Gun and Killer with a Smile. The title of Frank Fenton and Jack Leonard's screen story was "The Big Bullet." Onscreen credits note that Jane Russell sang the Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson song "You'll Know" in the picture. A third song by McHugh and Adamson, titled "Kiss and Run," was written for the film but not used, according to an Apr 1950 HR news item. Opening scenes include brief voice-over narration and inserts of maps. Although an early 1949 HR news items reported that RKO owned the rights to a Gerald Drayson Adams' screenplay titled Star Sapphire, which was re-titled His Kind of Woman in late 1949, and that Robert Mitchum and Russell were to star in that project, it does not appear that Adams' script is related to this picture. According to a Feb 1949 HR item, Star Sapphire is the story of a doctor who becomes an amateur sleuth in order to clear his name.
       In Oct 1949, HR announced that John Cromwell was being considered as director for His Kind of Woman. RKO borrowed Leslye Banning from Universal-International for the production. According to the Newsweek review, RKO producers Jerry Wald and Norman Krasna "doctored" the picture, which RKO head Howard Hughes ordered shelved for fifteen months. The exact nature of Wald and Krasna's contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined. Many reviewers commented on the film's two-hour running time, noting that the studio planned to cut approximately thirty minutes of footage before the picture's general release, but these cuts apparently were never made. Various news items reported that the film ran afoul of London censors because a billboard painted by Mario Zamparelli advertising the picture showed too much of Russell's cleavage. Modern sources note that the London censors also objected to the billboard's "tag line"--"the hottest combination ever." To appease the censors, the line, written by Hedda Hopper to describe the teaming of Russell and Mitchum, was changed to "the greatest combination ever." Just prior to the picture's Sep 1951 Los Angeles release, a thirty-ton, gilt-framed reproduction of Zamparelli's oil painting was erected on the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, according to news items. It has been claimed by modern sources that Raymond Burr actually knocked out Mitchum during a take of their fight scene.








 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   21 Jul 1951.   
Daily Variety   21 Dec 1949.   
Daily Variety   11 Jul 51   p. 3.
Daily Variety   29 Aug 51   p. 3, 11.
Film Daily   13 Jul 51   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Aug 1949.   
Hollywood Reporter   24 Aug 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Oct 49   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Dec 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Apr 50   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Apr 50   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Apr 50   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Apr 50   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   19 May 50   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   22 May 50   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   23 May 50   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jan 51   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jul 51   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Jul 51   p. 3.
Interior Design and Decoration   Jul 1950.   
Los Angeles Examiner   1 Sep 1951.   
LA Mirror   13 Sep 51   p. 26.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   21 Jul 51   p. 938.
New York Times   30 Aug 51   p. 20.
Newsweek   10 Sep 1951.   
Variety   18 Jul 51   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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