Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Favorite Actors, #8: Robert Mitchum

First Movie I Saw Him In: The Winds of War (1983; not a factor in me liking him, but it was the first; I also knew who he was prior to this-- ya see, Mitchum and I go way back)

Three Favorite Movies: Out of the Past (1947); El Dorado (1967); Farewell, My Lovely (1975)

Honorable Mention: One Shoe Makes It Murder (1982) (a TV movie, but Mitchum is so good in everything; even detective dreck like this. Actually, it's not bad!)

Favorite Performance: Out of the Past (1947)

Why I Like Him: Big, Bad, Bob Mitchum. The only actor ever who could sing a calypso tune, pummel some guy into unconsciousness while a cigarette dangled off his lip--and never break a sweat. He's the face of film noir: weary, cynical, but with a sense of humor that gets him through it all. He’s my American Ideal as to what “cool “ should be; too bad there aren’t people like him around anymore. On top of that, Mitchum’s a genuine character. Ever see his 1971 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show? Watch the scotch in his cup rise and fall after every commercial break. I actually prefer the “Mature Mitchum”, when he was a living dinosaur, a tough guy from another era who was an island unto himself. His very Mitchumness made him unique, yet he was still timeless, ageless; a reminder of another era but strangely contemporary and fresh. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to you, but it does to me…

Random Info: Got around a ban an on-set drinking ban imposed by director Vincente Minneli during the filming of Home from the Hill (1960) by injecting oranges with syringes full of vodka. No one could figure out how Mitchum stayed intoxicated. Mitchum sent actor and one-time co-star George Hamilton a Mother’s Day card every year until the end of his life.
Oh! I should also mention that I often "amuse" my wife when I offhandedly suggest that when I'm an old man, I'll wear those huge eyeglasses like Mitchum did in his later years. My glee is endless when I get a reaction from her.

A Dirty Harry-like Tagline: "In a world gone soft, there's still one tough guy!"


  1. I really like him myself. He's one of my mom's favorite actors of all time.

  2. Wonderfully entertaining! I adore Mitchum myself. I always wondered how the hell he could be so cool and attractive even he played a murderer and/or rapist and/or wife beater. All I can say is: I like!

  3. I've been enjoying reading this series. Winds of War was my first intro to Robert Mitchum, though I knew who he was and had seen snippets of his films before that.

    And thanks for the heads up! I got myself over to Intrada post haste. :-D

  4. Out of the Past is brilliant. It's great noir...and yeah, there is just something about that man. The Cavett interview is a scream.

    Didn't know about the Mother's Day card. Do you know the story behind it? I'd love to know it!

  5. Mitchum is one of my top 5. I'll watch anything he's in. I love the scene in Out of the Past when he believably knocks the guy out with one punch. The sheer explosive energy in that second is startling. When I saw that I thought, "Which star today could pull that off?" Answer: None.


  6. C.K., love that anecdote about the vodka infused oranges. I've never heard that one before. Mitchum is one actor it took me a while to grow to like, but I now think he's one of the best of his era, certainly deserving of a place in your top 10. Some of my favorite performances (besides the ones you mentioned): as the ultra-menacing psycho in "Night of the Hunter" and "Cape Fear" and the ultra-honorable soldier protecting nun Deborah Kerr in "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison."

  7. Mitchum is one of the greats. He is one of those talents who is very understated in his acting style and so cool....when cool was cool.

    The title of his biography says it all "Baby, I Don't Care..."

    Favorite Mitchum's - Out of the Past, Cape Fear, Night of the Hunter, Friends of Eddie Colye, Blood on the Moon, Story of G.I., Farewell, My Lovely and just about about noir film he was ever in.

  8. His role as Jeff Bailey in Out of the Past is the epitome of cool... he's one of my favorites as well and I could quote his lines from Out of the Past for days.

  9. ha ha ha! Your poor wife

    What a great post!

  10. One young actor once asked Mitchum what exercise he did to always look so fit. Mitchum just smiled and replied: Padded coats, padded coats... Brilliant!

  11. The Mother's Day tale was based on an in-joke between Mitchum and George Hamilton and was a play on their in-joke that they called each other "mothers", if you catch my meaning.

    Another Mitchum story: Young hotshot George Peppard, also on 'Home From the Hill', asked Mitchum, "Have you studied the Stanislavsky Method?" To which Mitchum replied, "No, but I've studied the Smirnoff Method."

    The guy was a comedic gem.

  12. Haha, great comeback! I've heard that you can learn a lot by looking at the bottom of the glass, but that you often forget your revelations. Personally, I never drink alcohol. Except for wine, beer and Mojitos.

  13. Out of the Past is one of my favorite classic movies and Robert Mitchum was brilliant.


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