The Curse of the Working Classes: Joe Don Baker is Mitchell! (1975)

The 1975 low-budget vigilante cop flick Mitchell concerns the titular police detective, played by Joe Don Baker, and his quest to prove that skeevy lawyer Walter Deaney (John Saxon) shot an unarmed robber and falsely claimed self defense. Mitchell’s superiors don’t want him to pursue the evidence, so they shuffle him off to another assignment following wealthy industrialist James Arthur Cummings (Martin Balsam), responsible for a kilo of heroin being smuggled into the States. See, kids, in 1975, one singular kilo of heroin was a really big deal. Mitchell knows Deaney has done something wrong, and he vows to get both him and Cummings. See, kids, in 1975, shooting an unarmed intruder because you’re a racist jackass was considered a bad thing. I know that’s apparently not the case in 2013, but back then, cops and the general public cared when a rich white guy took advantage of the sociopolitical status quo and used an unarmed Latino thief for target practice. But Mitchell is no defender of the disenfranchised. He’s a renegade cop, the kind of guy who ignores the law when it suits him. That’s why he shoots unarmed suspects who weren’t doing anything wrong at the time, and why he accepts a high-priced hooker as a bribe (Linda Evans). Because why not, right? It’s not a believable film, but the performances are often solid, especially from Balsam and Saxon as your expected mid-70s urbane bad guys, and Evans is surprisingly good in the stereotypical role she’s given. Character … Continue reading