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"My, my, my, my, Mitchell. What would your momma say?

If she ever knew that you were crawlin' out and carryin' on that way...

Crackin' their heads, and jumpin' in and out of beds and hangin' 'round the criminal scene.

Do you think you are some kind of a star, like the guys on the movie screen?"

Mitchell is a 1975 film starring Joe Don Baker as an abrasive, alcoholic police detective. The film was released by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation in the United States on September 10, 1975. Very much an anti-hero, Mitchell often ignores the orders of his superiors in pursuit of his targets, and demonstrates disdain for by-the-book police work as well as normal social graces. The film also stars John Saxon and Martin Balsam as the criminals Mitchell pursues throughout the film. Linda Evans and Merlin Olsen appear in supporting roles as a prostitute and henchman, respectively. Mitchell was later re-released by Lorimar Productions in the 1980s.

Plot:

A trade union lawyer named Walter Deaney murders a burglar in his house in cold blood. Only an unorthodox plain-clothes detective named Mitchell believes that Deaney is guilty, but Chief Albert Pallin tells him that Deaney is wanted for "every federal law violation in the book" and is therefore "FBI property".

To keep Mitchell away from Deaney, Pallin orders him to stake out the home of James Arthur Cummings, a wealthy man with ties to the mob whose "big scene" is the import and export of stolen merchandise. Although initially Mitchell is unconcerned with Cummings and focuses primarily on Deaney, he gets drawn in after Cummings discovers that Salvatore Mistretta, cousin of his mafioso benefactor Tony Gallano, is bringing in a shipment of stolen heroin from Mexico without Cummings' consent.

After unsuccessfully trying to buy Mitchell off with an offer of an illicit real estate deal and a prostitute named Greta, Deaney decides to work with Cummings to eliminate him. Deaney is killed shortly thereafter during an attempt on Mitchell's life.

Cummings refuses to let Mistretta use his port facilities to bring the shipment in, earning him the ire of Gallano who begins sending thugs to harass him. Cummings decides that the only ally he still has - aside from his faithful butler, Benton - is Mitchell, because he's no good to the police dead.

With the drug shipment about to arrive, Cummings offers Mitchell a deal. If Cummings is allowed to go free, Mitchell will be allowed to pose as a chauffeur and pick up the drug shipment, putting him in a position to both confiscate the drugs and arrest Mistretta. After agreeing to the deal, Cummings double-crosses Mitchell by alerting Mistretta to his real identity. He's also double-crossed Mistretta by replacing the heroin with chalk. Finally, Mistretta reveals his plan to double-cross Cummings by killing Mitchell and dumping his body on Cummings' boat.

Mistretta is killed in the subsequent gun battle, freeing Mitchell to go after Cummings on his boat. Mitchell is dropped there by helicopter, and kills Benton with a gaff hook. Cummings is killed after one final attempted double-cross fails. The film ends with Greta (having fallen in love with Mitchell) being hauled off to jail after Mitchell catches her with pot, while cynically joking that she'll just get a fine for drug possession.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.


This film contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Cummings is immensely more likable than Mitchell, and even gives him some advice on how to be nicer (It amounts to "Don't shoot people you want information from").
  • Anti-Hero: Mitchell combines elements of the classic definition (lacks heroic traits like... competence) and the modern definition (does immoral things without remorse).
  • Bowdlerise: See Jerkass below. Originally it was something like "Asshole" or "Prick", not "Jerk", written on the windshield. Likely a cut intended for TV.
  • Chalk Outline
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Had Cummings played straight with Mitchell and not tried to double cross him, too, he'd have gotten off scot-free.
  • Cowboy Cop: Mitchell.
  • Determinator: One of Mitchell's more endearing qualities.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "I'm sorry, the beer got a little excited."
  • Drugs Are Bad: Mitchell doesn't seem to care if Greta's a prostitute (at least as long as she doesn't try to charge him), but as soon as she pulls out a joint, he hauls her in for Possession. Twice.
    • To be fair, Mitchell only brings her in when he finds out she's a "Christmas gift". He doesn't care about drugs that much. The second time is purely Played for Laughs.
  • Enemy Civil War: Half the reason Mitchell wins is that Mistretta and Cummings are engaged in one of these because Cummings, understandably, doesn't want to deal with the hijacked heroin shipment.
  • Fair Cop: Harshly averted.
  • Fan Disservice: Baby oil.
  • Gambit Pileup: Okay, so Cummings double-crosses Mistretta and Mitchell, Mistretta plans to double-cross Cummings and kill Mitchell, and Mitchell is going through the motions of cooperating so he can take his time and arrest everyone. Mitchell somehow manages to come out on top and kill all the bad guys, but it's a narrow scrape.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mitchell
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Although at first she's being paid to sleep with Mitchell as a bribe, by the end of the movie, she's willing to do it for free -- thus demonstrating either utter lack of taste or the charity of a saint.
    • although Mitchell turns down this offer and we are lead to believe turns Greta back into the police on further drug possession charges anyhow.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail
  • Jerkass: Everyone in the movie thinks Mitchell is an asshole. Even the villain.

 Greta walks up to Mitchell's stakeout car while he's inside with Cummings, and writes "Jerk" on the windshield in lipstick.

  • Just Between You and Me: Mistretta, who by all account has never met Mitchell and thus has no reason to gloat, does this while he and his Mooks have Mitchell at gunpoint.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: Deaney refers to the Mexican thief as a "wetback". Joel and the 'bots are not amused. Then again, neither is Mitchell.
  • Porn Stash
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Mitchell. He refuses to let the vile Deaney go for shooting an unarmed intruder.
  • Shout-Out: The ending is an Homage to Key Largo.
  • Smug Snake: Deaney.
  • Spanner in the Works: Mitchell is a walking disaster for every characters plans, up to and including his own department's. The amazing thing is he rarely bothers to do anything proactive. He just hangs around and the bad guys do stupid things.
    • That's uncharitable. Mitchell is more like Columbo in that he's quietly observing and playing both sides against each other, waiting for the right moment to attack.
      • Columbo's actually a likeable, funny character, though, isn't a total slob, and doesn't screw things up for his department.
  • Villain Ball: Cummings would've almost certainly gotten away scot-free if he hadn't tried to double-cross Mistretta and Mitchell, since Mitchell hadn't uncovered any evidence that a DA would consider using against Cummings apart from knowing about a heroin shipment.
    • Still, can you blame him for wanting Mitchell to be punished?
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