Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Betty, do you take songwriting commissions? Because someone needs to write one about Robert Mitchum. The Himmelbritts watched Night of the Hunter last night and were both awed and spooked. Mitchum rivaled his performance in Cape Fear in creating a truly sinister character who was both unpredictable and made your skin crawl. This movie is worth watching just for the incredible cinematography, but it is also one of the most disturbing stories about childhood trauma and children in danger that I've seen. In this movie, Mitchum famously wrestles his right and left hands, tattooed with the words "Love" and "Hate." He also wears an unforgettable hat and sings spirituals like nobody's business. The vision of his silhouette on the horizon line is enough to send your stomach churning.
In Cape Fear, Mitchum uses his body and bulk to create his character in a way that steadily increases his threat. One of the most exciting cinematic experiences I've had was watching the original Cape Fear and Martin Scorscese's remake back-to-back (Mitchum is in both!). They are both haunting in very different ways. In the original Cape Fear, Mitchum invokes a sense of sexual menace that is turned on its head in his role as a maniacal sex-disgusted preacher in Night of the Hunter.
He played a less threatening role in the very good Out of the Past, but I think I like Mitchum best at high creep factor. Any recs for other good Mitchum performances?