Hollywood has had no shortage of man’s men, but perhaps no actor advanced so complex and alluring a model as Robert Mitchum. Mitchum’s incomparable career stretched across five decades and saw him blossom from a bit player in war films and westerns in the 1940s into a bona fide star working with some of Hollywood’s most towering figures in nearly every genre imaginable. Collaborating with pantheon auteurs such as Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger, Jacques Tourneur, Vincente Minnelli, and Nicholas Ray, the handsome and endlessly charismatic Mitchum always had the aura of a man in control of both himself and his situation, yet who was nevertheless besieged—a kind of walking metaphor for modern man’s limitations amid a universe of antagonism and uncertainty. The magnetic figure he cut into the screen has endured as a paragon of timeless cool (see his late-career appearances in films by Martin Scorsese and Jim Jarmusch), and his spot on the Mount Rushmore of American actors is undeniable. This year marks Mitchum’s centenary, and there is no better excuse to spend time with some of the highlights of his staggeringly rich career.
Academy Film Archive; British Film Institute; UCLA Film & Television Archive; George Eastman Museum; Sikelia NY; Ned Hinkle, Brattle Theatre
Purchase an All Access Pass for the Retrospective for $125 here.
Introduction by critic Imogen Sara SmithWise’s synthesis of western and film noir was a breakthrough for the director and further solidified Robert Mitchum as one of Hollywood’s most intriguing leading men, here playing a conflicted cowboy caught up in a plot against an aging cattle owner.
Cinematography by Robby MüllerJim Jarmusch’s hypnotic, parable-like, revisionist Western doubles as a barbed reflection on America’s treatment of its indigenous people and a radical twist on the myths of the American West, expressed in no small part by Robby Müller’s striking black-and-white cinematography.
Introduction by Robert Mitchum's daughter, Petrine MitchumIn the first half of the 1970s, Robert Mitchum reached a new peak, the end of which came with this sepulchrally nostalgic, neon-lit adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s second Philip Marlowe novel.
Introduction by filmmaker/critic Gina TelaroliMitchum reunited with Story of G.I. Joe director William Wellman for a movie about a homesteading family in snow country whose livestock is being destroyed by a roaming mountain lion. Shot on location at Mt. Rainier, where 30-foot snowdrifts made for the most arduous and exhausting shoot of Mitchum’s career.
Introduction by critic Imogen Sara SmithIn this elegiac and exquisitely shot Technicolor western, Mitchum richly incarnates an expat mercenary hired by a Mexican governor to carry out an arms deal that takes him to Texas, where he soon finds himself in conflict with a U.S. Army major—and at a moral crossroads.