Robert Mitchum is one of those rare leading men that both men (not boys) and women (not girls) love equal parts.
When they say “they don’t make them like this any more”, they’re right.
Sleepy eyed and built like a boxer in off season, Mitchum spent several decades on the screen playing the kind of men you should stay away from: private eyes, rodeo riders, killers and alcoholics.
Men you should stay away from, but you can’t.
Those aforementioned eyes, the laconic delivery, the “tough guy with a crushed soul” quality-they won’t let you stay away.
And thankfully, because of the lovely folk over at AFI (I’m sending you a fruit basket one of these days, I promise!) you don’t have to.
Starting this past weekend (because I was too late on this train you already missed “Angel Face” / “Crossfire”-sorry about that) and moving on through May, you get to spend some quality alone-in-the-dark time with him.
full schedule here:
and then a nice printoutable schedule of choice favorites from yours truly:
OUT OF THE PAST
Arguably the ultimate film noir. Ex-private eye Mitchum tries to make a new life in the country, but his past catches up with him: his mob-boss former employer, Kirk Douglas, and bad girl Jane Greer — with whom Mitchum’s earlier romantic idyll had ended on a murderous note. Dizzyingly told in flashback, blending dreamy romanticism with doomful cynicism, this is, a vicious love triangle: Mitchum, a paragon with his trenchcoat and laconic cool; Greer, la femme la plus fatale, a serial man-jilter whose duplicity and murderousness know no bounds; and Douglas, blending charm and menace in one of his best performances.
Tuesday, March 25, 9:00; Thursday, March 27, 7:00
THE LUSTY MEN
Director Nicholas Ray combines action-packed rodeo riding with affecting melodrama in one of his best films, and Mitchum gives one of his legend-making performances as the hard-living rodeo lifer. Rodeo veteran Mitchum, off the bulls since taking a bad spill, tries his hand at mentoring and managing the career of eager Arthur Kennedy, who quickly rises through the ranks. Kennedy’s wife Susan Hayward wants him to quit while he’s ahead and settle down, but he’s drawn to the rowdy rodeo lifestyle — and despite her anger, she’s drawn to Mitchum.
Friday, March 28, 7:00; Saturday, March 29, 7:00; Sunday, March 30, 3:10; Wednesday, April 2, 6:30; Thursday, April 3, 7:00
HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON
Salty Marine Mitchum and nun Deborah Kerr are marooned on a small Pacific island during WWII, battling the elements and each other until they have to put their heads together to outwit an expedition of Japanese soldiers. The pairing of Kerr with Mitchum – the Scottish beauty’s favorite leading man – produced terrific screen chemistry, and an Oscar nomination for Kerr.
DIR/SCR John Huston; SCR John Lee Mahin, based on the novel by Charles Shaw; PROD Buddy Alder and Eugene Frenke. US, 1957, color, 108 min. NOT RATED
Saturday, April 5, 1:00; Sunday, Monday, April 7, 7:00
Mitchum and Deborah Kerr play husband-and-wife nomadic sheepherders in 1920s Australia, a couple who’ve led and loved a footloose life but who now want to settle down on their own homestead – assuming Mitchum can leave behind his rambunctious ways. Mitchum and Kerr’s natural, knowing way with one another, not to mention their earthy sexual chemistry, make them one of the movies’ more believable screen couples. Peter Ustinov – former sea captain, current gentleman tramp – is along for the ride.
Sunday, April 6, 3:45; Wednesday, April 9, 7:00
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
The only film directed by the great actor Charles Laughton, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER has enjoyed cult status across five decades. Blending the frightening mythological power of the Brothers Grimm fable with Southern Gothic Creepiness, it’s the story of two children guarding their dead father’s stash of stolen money from a seemingly benevolent but secretly malicious preacher; played with unhinged gusto by Mitchum. With expressionistic lighting effects and memorably stylized, even psychedelic art design, it’s marvel to look at, and Mitchum, usually the paragon of cool, here gives a flamboyantly over-the-top performance as the psychotic villain.
Friday, April 11, 7:00, Saturday, April 12, 2:00, 7:05; Sunday, April 13, 4:45, 9:15; Monday, April 14, 9:30; Tuesday, April 15, 9:30, Wednesday, April 16, 6:30; Thursday, April 17, 7:00
Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of CAPE FEAR may have improved on some aspects of J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 original, but, with all due respect to De Niro, not Robert Mitchum’s performance as the ex-con Max Cady. Mitchum uses his natural cool and subtle insolence to create a unique screen villain, one possessing a laid-back menace. His unhurried, I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude makes him the perfect foil to upright — and uptight — Gregory Peck, the DA who sent him to jail. When Cady finally makes his move for revenge it’s violent in the extreme, but until then he makes rooting for the bad guy fun.
Friday, April 25, 9:45; Saturday, April 26, 10:00; Sunday, April 27, 9:45; Wednesday, April 30, 9:30; Thursday, May 1, 9:00