Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Friends of Robert Mitchum

Whether he was singing calypso or riding a horse, Robert Mitchum had style.

In movies like Where Danger Lives, The Lusty Men, and Blood on the Moon he created a cinematic archetype unto himself. With these baby-faced, non-smoking, calorie-counting punks they call actors now, a figure like Mitchum is missed. Unfortunately there was only one of him, but maybe remembering the what and the why of him is one way to redeem ourselves in this new century.

He could portray the part of the hero, the villain, the winner, or the loser and yet always seem equal parts himself, without the vanity of the typical one dimensional movie star. Recently, I revisited The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and even I had forgot how great this role is, a late masterpiece, in which Mitchum out-seventies the seventies, putting the noir (a genre he helped to define) in neo-noir.

Watching him by myself in an afternoon showing of Dead Man at the Kentucky Theater in its initial run, I didn't realize the era of Mitchum was coming to an end. A few years later a broad borrowed my copy of Lee Server's biography of Mitchum Baby, I Don't Care and never returned it. I never think of the woman. But I think about getting that book back.

We all stand in his shadow, and in his abscence, cinema and everything else, is cast in that shadow; things are a little darker. So, lady, pour us a drink and slide a little closer. And let us think about that for a minute before we carry on with everything else.



JSH said...

Where'd the image of Mitch eyeballin' the beer taps come from? I like that.

J.T. Dockery said...

Professor Holland, that is a still from "Friends of Eddie Coyle."