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 greatest performances in his staggeringly rich career.

Co-programmed by Kent Jones and Dan Sullivan, FSLC Assistant Programmer.

Acknowledgments: Academy Film Archive; British Film Institute; UCLA Film & Television Archive; George Eastman Museum; Sikelia NY; Ned Hinkle, Brattle Theatre.