Remembering Robert Mitchum
September 30, 2017 10:41 PM   Subscribe

For the centenary of Robert Mitchum's birth, Film Comment offers a podcast that looks back at what made Mitchum such a unique star in motion picture history.

If a podcast isn't your thing, there is also this LA Times article on Mitchum filled with select quotes from his career, or this remembrance of his presence from The Daily Beast, or more film based analyses from Mubi and Chiseler.

If you'd prefer something more in the moment, here's a very 70's Rolling Stone article from the set of The Friends of Eddie Coyle, or spend an hour with the man himself interviewed by Dick Cavett. (As referenced by the Film Comment podcast, it is something to see for anyone interested in the man.)

Not familiar with Mitchum? The British Film Institute's got you covered with their list of his ten best films so you have a starting place for rectifying that oversight.

And, of course, there's the notable previous FPP from this site regarding his musical aspirations, and a couple others about Night of the Hunter. (previously, previously)
posted by gusottertrout (13 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Oops, I meant to add this article from Artforum since that was what sparked the post in the first place.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:44 PM on September 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Beef. It's what's for dinner."

The man had an awesome voice.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:22 PM on September 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Melted butter! I didn't realize just how tall he was until I saw the original Cape Fear.
posted by brujita at 12:46 AM on October 1, 2017

I recall devouriing that Rolling Stone article when the issue came out! A favourite film; an excellent performance from Mr Mitchum.

His performance as Harry Powell in Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955) ranks as one of the finest in cinema, I'd say. (An extraordinary contribution to a film packed with 'em!)

Only last night, I'd been reading about Mitchum in O.K. You Mugs: Writers on Movie Actors, edited by Luc Sante & Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Granta (UK), 2000. Serendipity: don'tcha just love it?

A great post, gusottertrout -- thanks.
posted by On the Corner at 2:00 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the best films set in Boston. There is not a single "fuckin' awesome" in it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:12 AM on October 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Lee Server's biography is a great read.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:59 AM on October 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Mitchum’s brother John, also an actor, wrote about their adventures growing up and beyond: Them Ornery Mitchum Boys.

(Somehow a copy of that landed on my desk at the teeny publisher I worked for in the early Oughts. I think the idea was that John Mitchum was looking for another publisher to take it on? It was a fun read, but we passed. )
posted by notyou at 8:29 AM on October 1, 2017

Came here to rave about Lee Server's book, and Sheydem-tants beat me to it; here's the AV Club review. Easily one of the greatest biographies I've ever read (the same author's Ava Gardner book is also excellent). The Personal Quotes section of Mitchum's IMDb page is one of the higher-quality distractions on the internet: "I have two acting styles: with and without a horse."

He's my eternal problematic fave.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think I remember seeing Server being interviewed while he was writing this book. He told a story of when Mitchum was in a bar fight with a couple of tough guys. One of them pinned his arms behind his back and the other took a few swings before Mitchum got a hand free, clocked the puncher and knocked him out. As the guy lay sleeping, Mitchum recognized him as the then-World Heavyweight champ.

Can Sheydem-tants or G and B confirm this story ?
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 10:36 AM on October 1, 2017

The Personal Quotes section of Mitchum's IMDb page is one of the higher-quality distractions on the internet: "I have two acting styles: with and without a horse."

Heh. Mitchum is such an excellent interview, smart and funny in a self deprecating sort of way regarding his career that it can making talking about his acting a bit more difficult since you have to sort of suss out what's clever bullshit and what's more accurate. The Film Comment podcast, I found, does a pretty admirable job with that since, no matter what Mitchum says, there is more to his screen presence than him just showing up.

My personal favorite film of his is Out of the Past, but of the movies of his I've seen, there are about twenty or so that are quite enjoyable, and another six to ten where he's good, even if the movie itself doesn't measure up for me.

I would put in a word for His Kind of Woman, even though it was offhandedly dismissed in the podcast. It's a bit bizarre, Howard Hughes produced the film and involved himself in the production, as he was wont to do, demanding changes to the film as it went along, so what starts off seeming like a Mitchum noir somewhat in the vein of the midsection of Out of the Past, shifts along the way into being more a Vincent Price comedy thriller. It has an odd charm to it for being so sui generis and I dote on it for that.

With so many of Mithcum's films not fitting entirely comfortably into standard genre formula, like Night of the Hunter, Track of the Cat, Home from the Hills, or sliding into strange slightly distorted variations of those conventional forms, there must have been something that attracted Mitchum to the offbeat and something about Mitchum that allowed directors to drift from the more usual paths. As mentioned in the podcast, Mitchum is one of the better choices for arguing the idea of actor as auteur.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:09 PM on October 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've been a fan of Mitchum's for, lo, these many years. The Chiseler article mentions his walk, which was phenomenally sexy, and immediately brings to mind the film "The Last Time I Saw Archie," where the last shot is RM walking away down a long corridor. Sigh. Pat pat my heart.
posted by MovableBookLady at 5:41 PM on October 1, 2017

Man, I saw The Friends of Eddie Coyle on TV in a London hotel in like 2000 and immediately needed to buy it on VHS when I got home. I got some shithouse dub of a local TV screening minus any swearing and it was still a cornerstone of my tape collection for years.
He was the first (and my favorite) of the weird Hollywood guys that I ever noticed, he was way prettier but I always thought he paved the way for Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, etc..
I grew up hearing stories about his horse farm in Easton, MD before it was Cheney country. Evidently he enjoyed hanging out with the locals which is not what happens around those parts these days.
posted by sir_patrick_o'veal at 7:49 PM on October 1, 2017

@ devious - now I wish I still had a copy around (I gave it away to a crush, which went nowhere, loss of a perfectly good book...) but it rings a bell. Here's a clip of Burt Reynolds talking about Mitchum (YouTube, content warning for Kevin James) laying out a dude in a bar.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:35 PM on October 2, 2017

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