Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Robert Mitchum

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?


Betty & Bimbo said...

Robert Mitchum's performance in Out of the Past has stayed in my mind for a long time. His face is so beautiful and sad, and did most of the work in that film. I remember after I saw it I looked up his biography and it's very interesting. He was sentenced to be on a chain gang in Georgia at age 14, and also went temporarily blind from working in an aircraft manufacturer. He also smoked pot openly in the 1950s and talked about it. I have been wanting to see both Night of the Hunter and Cape Fear for a long time. IMDB says he lived till 1997, but I don't know any of his later roles. I think he would be a good topic for a song, and I will get back to you with any progress.

Nancy D., Girl Detective said...

Wonderful! Why don't you model it on this song:

My favorite line: "David Duchovny, American Heathcliffe, brooding and comely."