Sunday, August 6, 2017

Robert Mitchum 100 -- August 6, 2017
Robert Mitchum, a pioneering joker, smoker and midnight toker, was born 100 years ago today, on 06-August-1917.  Although he always said he hated acting, he managed to give many great performances in many great films. 

After a wild youth and some factory work, he started out playing bad guys in Hopalong Cassidy movies.  After he appeared in Thirty Second Over Tokyo, directed Mervyn LeRoy persuaded RKO to sign Mitchum to a long-term contract.
Mitchum's first big hit was William Wellman's The Story of G.I. Joe, made while on load to United Artists.  The movie is the story of Ernie Pyle, a war correspondent who paid attention to the infantrymen.  I cry every time I see the death of Captain Bill Walker, played by Mitchum.
 Robert Mitchum as Captain Walker and Burgess Meredith as Ernie Pyle.
After The Story of G.I. Joe, RKO starred Mitchum in a series of B Westerns adapted from Zane Grey stories.
He appeared in many film noirs.  Out of the Past is one of the best. 

In 1948, Mitchum was busted for for possession of marijuana.  This would have ruined some peoples' careers, but it fit right in with his image.
Mitchum played an evil man in The Night of the Hunter with Lillian Gish and Shelley Winters.  It was the only movie that Charles Laughton directed.  I don't know why he never got another chance.
Mitchum was even scarier in Cape Fear
One of my favorites among Mitchum's later movies is Farewell, My Lovely, where he played Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe.  It was a faithful adaption with beautiful period settings.  And it had Charlotte Rampling.
Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe and Charlotte Rampling as Helen Grayle. 

A few years later, Mitchum played Phillip Marlowe in The Big Sleep.  It was horrible.  It was set in modern times in Britain. 

I remember when he died 20 years ago.  A lot of people were surprised that he lived that long. 

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