Now, anyone who knows me, and especially anyone who has watched movies (or, really anything, for that matter) with me knows – I am the kind of guy who will almost constantly interact with the screen. Even with things I like. I’ve been like this pretty much as long as I can remember. And that is why I gravitated so readily to Mystery Science Theater 3000. After I came upon the show in the mid 90’s, I became an instant and lifelong fan (for the record, I have no favourite host – both have their good and bad points; and yes, I do know you can like Clayton, TV’s Frank AND Pearl too). And yes, apart from having my favourite MST’ed episodes, I have also come across, watched, and sometimes even enjoyed, non MST’ed versions of some of their greatest (and not so greatest) hits. And that is where today’s film comes from. Today’s film is the Joe Don Baker classic, Mitchell.
Originally filmed as a pilot episode that quickly shot itself down in flames, only to find new life as a standalone movie (and later as one of the most popular episodes of MST3K), Mitchell is your standard cop v bad guys crime thriller. Except for one thing – Mitchell is the single most disgusting human being ever. In fact, in the first scene we meet him, he is passed out drunk in the back seat of a police cruiser heading to a callout (“your hero, ladies and gentlemen”). After realising that there is more to this shooting than first meets the eye he ends up crossing paths with a local crime boss and the cops he has in his pocket. Then proceeds to do what he does best – eat, be a pig and have several ill advised love scenes with Linda Evans. Then he saves the day. I would say more, but the storyline is so stock standard that you can fill in the blanks yourself – but why would you want to?
Now, for those of you who only know this film via MST3K (and, I won’t lie, that was my first introduction to it – and really, my preferred method of watching), you can probably tell that not only has the film been edited for television, but that it would be a chore to watch without Joel and The Bots cracking wise throughout it. And you would be right on both counts. Not only does the film proper have more boobies, cursing and acts of violence; but it’s such an unmitigated crap pile that they can’t even hope to save it. Hell, the only way I was able to force my way through the unedited version was to reflect on my favourite lines from the MST’ed version.
This is NOT a good film, and you should ONLY stick with the MST’ed version, unless you have some sort of a death wish.