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The Good Guys and the Bad Guys

Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection

There's a terrific Mitchum moment in Farewell My Lovely (1975), where Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe tells a poofy employer, "This car sticks out like spats at an Iowa picnic." Mitchum's delivery is so causal and pristine that he actually convinces you that such Chandlerisms could exist in the real world. There's another great Mitchum moment in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) — here, Mitchum sits at a bar and gets quietly and convincingly drunk. And there is a great Mitchum moment in Going Home (1971), where Mitchum's son, played by Jan Michael Vincent, asks, after a day of tragedy, "What happens now?", and Mitchum looks at his son and replies, "You get to be 20." As of this writing, none of these films are on DVD, and Coyle isn't even on videotape (though it can be had for those who look hard enough). Nor is The Lusty Men (1952), a Nicholas Ray film from RKO. The Good Guys and the Bad Guys, however, an indifferent western from 1969, is now available on DVD for the first time, as part of Warner's "Robert Mitchum Signature Collection." Guys is directed by Burt Kennedy with his usual blend of great, colorful vistas and cheap slapstick humor. The story, however, in a script credited to Ronald M. Cohen and Dennis Shryack, is Peckinpah Lite, with Mitchum as Marshall Flagg, the aging sheriff of a prospering town at century's turn, where burping cars are sidelining horses, and whose mayor (Martin Balsam) is one of those self-promoting, manipulating "modern" politicians whom Preston Sturges could have written so much better. Out of date and then out of a job, Flagg hooks up with an old nemesis, McKaye (George Kennedy), himself just bumped from a gang of bank robbers run by youngster Waco (David Carradine). Even though the gang is targeting Flagg's former town, he still feels loyalty to his code, and so presses McKaye into a grudging partnership. Wacky mayhem ensues. Both Mitchum and Kennedy seem unaware that they are appearing in derivative nonsense, but enact their lifeless parts with dignity. The film is for Mitchum completists only. Warner Home Video's anamorphic transfer (2.40:1) is gorgeous, if a waste of its technician's time, while the monaural Dolby Digital audio comes with optional English subtitles. Extras consist of the film's trailer, along with a contemporaneous promotional featurette "The Good Guy from Chama" (13 min.), which presents the making of the movie as seen through a child's eyes, as if it were an Oscar-winning French short subject. Keep-case, or slimcase in the box-set.
—D.K. Holm

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