August Highlights on TCM
In partnership with The Film Foundation, Turner Classic Movies is proud to bring you this exclusive monthly column by iconic film director and classic movie lover Martin Scorsese.
ROBERT MITCHUM--August 6 will mark the centenary of Robert Mitchum's birth, which TCM is celebrating with a selection of 13 of his pictures over an entire day and night as part of their annual monthlong Summer Under the Stars festival. It's amazing to realize that Mitchum was born 100 years ago. I suppose I could say the same of many of the actors and actresses I grew up watching (I'll add that I had the honor of working with him on the remake of Cape Fear, in which he played a cameo), but Mitchum seems to fit just as perfectly in the present as he did in the world of the 40s, or the 50s, or the 70s. If you look at Bogart or Cagney or Davis or Lombard, they seem to come from another age with a different outlook, a different way of relating to others, a different way of moving. But Mitchum was so apparently at ease with himself that he had a way of being and an approach to acting itself that was and still is outside of time: he seems to be moving to his own internal rhythm and no one else's (as you can see in his 1971 interview with Dick Cavett--it's not part of this tribute but very much worth checking out, because it's quite an unusual hour of television). In fact, Mitchum never studied acting. He was out on his own at a very young age during the depression, and at one point he wound up on a chain gang in Georgia. He made his way into acting almost by accident: his sister Julie was an actress in a theatre group in Long Beach, where he worked as a stagehand and bit player and an occasional writer of short theatrical pieces. He got a job at Lockheed to support his family, had a nervous breakdown that left him temporarily blind, and then looked for work as an extra. After appearing in William Castle's independently made When Strangers Marry (which was admired by Orson Welles, James Agee and Manny Farber), Mitchum had his first major role in The Story of G.I. Joe. Right away, you can see what an unusual actor he was. He carries the sense of exhaustion and the tragedy of war in his bones in that picture, and it's a truly haunted performance. You could say the same of his work in Out of the Past or Thunder Road or even in his relatively small role in Crossfire. Odd as it may sound, even in a light RKO programmer like A Holiday Affair he brings something extra, a little bit of edge. And in Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter, he gives one of the most daring performances in cinema: stylized, sometimes musical and sometimes balletic, with a sharp understanding of evil and yet, his character is oddly sympathetic. Also included in the tribute are his performances in Otto Preminger's Angel Face, His Kind of Woman (credited to John Farrow, but a lot of it was re-shot by Richard Fleischer according to the specifications of the producer, Howard Hughes...and it's a lot of fun) and an unusual western directed by Robert Parrish and produced by Mitchum, The Wonderful Country. There are some notable omissions, but this is a very well-curated tribute to a great actor.
by Martin Scorsese