Actor and Alien

Actor Grant Mitchell, a reliable if low-wattage character thesp in numerous Warner Brothers productions, particularly of the pre-code era, his grumpy paternalistic demeanour could be pointed at a wide variety of roles –

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PREDATOR, a 1987 action movie with a vagina dentata alien in it.

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The first distracting thing about Grant Mitchell is that he shares a name with a character in Eastenders. See also 1940s makeup artist Guy Pearce who always makes us think of the modern film star (and especially his lousy makeup in PROMETHEUS) and Universal music arranger Frank Skinner, who reminds Brits, rather against their will, of a comedian of the same name.

The second distracting thing about Grant Mitchell is that he looks a bit like a bulldog’s skull looking out of a potato.

The third distracting thing about Grant Mitchell is his resemblance to the Predator, although fortunately without the sexual overtones.

PREDATOR really is all about male sexual anxiety. It may be that the monster design was simply supposed to be upsetting, without any deeper psychological intent, deploying what Camille Paglia calls “displacement upwards” (she was talking about Bardot’s full sensual lips). Putting something in the wrong place can make it disturbing. But I think we’re entitled to read meaning into the decision to make the monster a castrating, fang-filled vulva. Especially with the largely male, largely musclebound cast, the sexist banter and the right-wing slant (we have to assume Arnie and his gang are Black Ops, working to overthrow a legally elected government, because that’s what secret American task forces have always done, and especially under Reagan). If it were a slightly better film, it would also be possible to appreciate the monster’s point of view more. It could play like FIRST BLOOD. As it is, I don’t sympathise with Arnie and company at all. The monster is outnumbered and on a foreign planet — sure, he chose to be there, but one has to respect his courage.

I guess if there were an early ’30s Warner version of PREDATOR, Grant Mitchell could play the monster (using a primitive version of motion capture, where the actors eyebrows are attached to a large puppet by lengths of dowling). Eugene Pallette as Arnie.

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4 Responses to “Actor and Alien”

  1. How’s about Eugene Palette as Annie ?

  2. He’s got a good voice for it. “Tomorrow” is rarely attempted in basso-profundo, but I see no reason why it couldn’t be effective. But then who plays Daddy Warbucks? Godzilla?

  3. Hmmm. You just described Grant Mitchell as paternalistic, maybe he’d do. If Pallette is Annie, one of the other orphans has got to be Dewey Robinson.

  4. An all-adult pre-code Annie is a film I’d certainly watch. Still never seen the Huston.

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