Friday, February 17, 2012

Irreverent and ultra-cool

The smartest kid in school and the biggest troublemaker, Robert Mitchum (1917–1997) lived some variant on that dynamic for the rest of his life. He picked up his well-known penchant for weed ("the poor man's whiskey") by smoking varieties he found by the side of the road in an early period of riding the rails. Things came as easily and naturally to him as they seemed to in his film roles. Yet because his interest in a motion picture relied more on factors like its shooting schedule or proximity to fishing than on the quality of its script, it became the luck of the draw whether he found himself in something top-drawer or mediocre. But whether the vehicles were timeless or disposable, his sleepy-eyed nonchalance and easy self-confidence carried the day every time, making him a mesmerizing—albeit reluctant—movie star.
"Mitchum is noir." — Martin Scorsese

Explore our Mitchum DVDs—including two film noir classics and the six-disc Signature Collection (Angel Face, Macao, Home from the Hill, The Sundowners, The Good Guys and the Bad Guys, The Yakuza). I've just seen The Sundowners, and I adored it. I am also very interested in 1974's The Yakuza, directed by Sydney Pollack. DVD Savant calls it
"one of the best of Paul Schrader's unofficial remakes of The Searchers. In the context of the Japanese Yakuza genre, then known in the States to only a few foreign film aficionados, we see the familiar tale of old warriors upholding perverse codes of behavior, only to doom the next generation. A genre hybrid of morose heroes and sudden violence, Schrader's film beautifully establishes the presence of an American-style gangster in a millieu of Ginza Pachinko parlors….. A multigenerational soap opera of great power, with intense characterizations much too rich to spoil here."
With Jane Russell
Your favorite Mitchum film?


  1. Perhaps my favorite anti-hero! There are so many to choose from but my favorite cameo would be in Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man." Also, locals should check out Mitchum's Steakhouse in Trappe, MD. Some neat memorabilia there...

  2. I like him in about anything including the "sappy" ones like River of No Return (w. Marilyn Monroe), and Heaven Knows Mr. Allison.

  3. He put the fear in "Cape Fear"--so much so that I found the remake to be windier, but no better. And I loved the Charles Laughton-directed " Night of the Hunter", (so haunting!) in which Mitchum struggled between his hands marked "Love" and "Hate", with dangerous results.

  4. If you’re going to mention Mitchum and noir you have to include the classic Out of the Past (1947), by the French director Jacques Tourneur (in which the young star, especially in the scenes by the river, looks much like David Letterman's bass player Will Lee).

  5. Who can forget him in Scrooged?!?! Such a minor role but still quite memorable.