Posts Tagged ‘robert mitchum’

Take Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Dick Van Dyke and Shirley MacLaine, put them all together in one film, and ask yourself what could possibly go wrong?  Answer: NOTHING!  Nothing is wrong with this film at all!

MacLaine is Louisa May Foster, a rich widow who is sent to see a psychiatrist after trying to give the IRS $200 million.  She tells him all about the four very different men she married (and the one she turned down), all of whom died and left her a fortune.  The stories of each of her marriages, to Edgar Hopper (Van Dyke), Larry Flint (Newman), Rod Anderson (Mitchum) and Pinky Benson (Kelly), as well as her first engagement to Leonard Crawley (Dean Martin), who she turns down in favour of Hopper, are told in flashback, with Louisa imagining each one as a film in a different genre.  Gradually each marriage turns from blissfully happy to sad – for Louisa anyway – as she encourages her husbands to chase their dreams, only to wish they hadn’t done so.

Despite the fact that the film describes four marriages gone wrong and four deaths, it is unquestionably a comedy, as it’s opening sequence makes perfectly clear, showing Louisa descending a pink staircase, wearing a pink dress, ahead of a pink coffin in an entirely pink house.

The story is light and fluffy, and my goodness, how lucky was Shirley MacLaine to be romanced by Martin, Newman, Mitchum and Kelly?!  I can only imagine that she was the envy of many viewers when this film came out!  She looks beautiful herself, and also does a rather lovely song and dance number with Gene Kelly, which was a joy to watch.

It looks sumptuous too, with MacLaine wearing a series of increasingly outlandish outfits, and lots of colour throughout.  There are lots of truly funny moments, and I burst out laughing several times, even having to rewind the film occasionally because my laughter made me miss a few lines.

Packed with gorgeous stars, and with a frothy, funny storyline, this film has shot straight into my list of top ten favourite movies, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good comedy.

Year of release: 1964

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Producer: Arthur P. Jacobs

Writers: Gwen Davis, Betty Comden, Adolph Green

Main cast: Shirley MacLaine, Dick Van Dyke, Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Robert Cummings

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This 1985 film features three generations of the Mitchum family.  Robert Mitchum is Jack Palmer, a man who walked out on his family 30 years earlier, and having learned that he has a terminal illness, wants to make his peace with them before its too late.  His son Tom is played by his real-life son Christopher Mitchum, and Tom’s son Johnny, is played by Christopher’s real-life son, Bentley.

In all honesty, there were a lot of things about this film which were quite cringeworthy.  Some of the acting – not Robert Mitchum’s (obviously) was a bit wooden.  And I feel it only fair to warn potential viewers of the TRULY AWFUL 1980s clothing on display!!  I know it was made in 1985, but frankly, there was no excuse for those clothes even then.  (I’m joking obviously – but I truly realised why the 1980s is known as the decade that taste forgot, although obviously that is no reflection on the film itself.)

There was one thing that kept me watching though – and that was Robert Mitchum. He may have been slightly older here than in some of the films for which he was famous, but he never lost his charisma, or his natural talent, and it does shine through.  (And – oh! that voice – I could listen to it all day.)  Claire Bloom is also great as Jack’s ex-wife Sally, and Tess Harper does a good job as Tom’s wife, Gwen.

In all, despite the cheesiness – which is to be expected of many films made at that time – there was actually plenty to enjoy about this movie, and I did find myself drawn in.  It was also interesting to see three generations of one family playing three generations of another family.  Not brilliant maybe, but certainly enjoyable.

Year of release: 1985

Director: Noel Black

Producers: Allen Epstein, Jim Green, Sandra Harmon, Stephanie Austen, Robert Papazian, Milton Sperling, James Veres

Writers: Frederic Hunter, Phil Penningroth

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, Bentley Mitchum, Tess Harper, Claire Bloom, Merritt Butrick

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In this incredibly charming film set in colonial America, William Holden plays David Harvey, a widower who marries a servant girl named Rachel (Loretta Young), so that his son Davey will have a mother figure, and so that she can keep their cabin clean and tidy, provide meals, etc.  It is a marriage of convenience, but when David’s friend Jim (Robert Mitchum) comes to visit and shows an interest in Rachel, David comes to realise what she really means to him.

I only watched this film because it starred two of my favourite actors – William Holden and Robert Mitchum – and what a lucky lucky girl Rachel was to get to choose between the two! However, I was pleasantly surprised, because this is an absolute gem of a movie!  The always excellent Holden perfectly captures the sadness that David feels after the loss of his beloved wife, and Young is great as the woman who feels unwanted, save for the chores she does.  Mitchum is also wonderful as David’s easy-come easy-go friend.  Rounding out the main cast is child actor Gary Gray as little Davey.

The story is gentle and sweet, with some surprising moments of humour, and one of the funniest fight scenes I have ever seen!  It held my attention throughout and I really liked all of the characters.

This film doesn’t seem to get many outings on television, but I would urge anyone to try and catch it if they can.  It is really rather lovely, and I highly recommend it.

Year of release: 1948

Director: Norman Foster

Producers: Jack J. Gross, Richard H. Berger

Writers: Howard Fast (story ‘Rachel’), Waldo Salt

Main cast: William Holden, Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum, Gary Gray

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I love watching Christmassy movies at Christmas time, and this is one of the best!  Janet Leigh is Connie, a young widow who lives with her cute young son Timmy.  She is going out with Carl, who wants to marry her, but Connie is not sure.  When she meets Steve (Robert Mitchum) and accidentally gets him sacked from his job in a department store, they become friends.  As their feelings grow, Connie has to choose between Carl and Steve.

Sounds like a romantic drama, but actually this is a lovely, touching light comedy.  I loved all three main stars – especially Mitchum, who was adorable and sweet, in a role which was something of a departure.  Janet Leigh looks beautiful, and is gorgeous as Connie.  Wendell Corey is great as the reliable and straight laced Carl…but young Gordon Gebert as Timmy was a real scene-stealer!  This young boy was just adorable – so cute and cheeky!  There were some genuinely funny moments – I couldn’t stop giggling at the scene where Steve and Carl first meet – their awkwardness with each other was so funny and well played by both actors.

This was the perfect film to relax with in the holiday season – I’m planning on making it part of my Christmas movie schedule every year..it may not be as well known as other classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, or Miracle on 34th Street (both of which are excellent films), but Holiday Affair is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half.  Highly recommended!

Year of release: 1949

Director: Don Hartman

Producer: Don Hartman

Writers: John D. Weaver (story “Christmas Gift”), Isobel Lennart

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey, Gordon Gebert

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Although I will watch the occasional film in this genre, noir is not my favourite type of film.  However, Robert Mitchum is an actor who I always enjoy watching, so I thought that I would give this film a go – and it was definitely worth watching.

Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, a mysterious man, who ekes out a living operating a petrol station in a small town.  When someone from his past comes looking for him, Bailey explains to his girlfriend Anne (Virginia Huston), how he used to work as a private detective, but when a gangster employed him to find his missing girlfriend, Bailey ended up falling in love with the woman (Jane Greer) himself.  He had hoped to escape this past, but now ends up agreeing – under sufferance – to do one last job for the gangster, Whit (Kirk Douglas)…

I liked this film a lot – as with all good films in this genre, it is not quite clear at first who can be trusted and who is double crossing who.  Mitchum is PERFECT as Bailey – a man who has seen too much and is tired of his old life.  He just wants to settle down and live a quiet life with Anne, but fate is against him.  Kirk Douglas is also excellent as the slimy but charismatic Whit; he infuses the character with an undertone of danger – you are never quite sure what he might do next.  Jane Greer, as Kathie, Whit’s ex-girlfriend, and the woman who Bailey falls for against all better judgement, rounds out the main cast very well.  It is the only role I have ever seen her in, but she is super, and looks stunning.

Humphrey Bogart wanted to do this role originally but the studio he was contracted to did not buy it, and he lost out.  Mitchum was actually the fourth choice for the part – which is interesting, as I cannot imagine anybody doing a better job.  This film received lots of acclaim, but sadly today does not seem to well known.  That’s a shame – this is a film that I would certainly recommend to anybody, if they get a chance to watch it.

(N.B. This film was originally released in the UK under the title ‘Build My Gallows High’)

Year of release: 1947

Director: Jacques Tourneur

Producers: Robert Sparks, Warren Duff

Writers: Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes) (book), James M. Cain, Frank Fenton

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Paul Valentine

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This film stars Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr…and that’s about it, apart from numerous extras who don’t have any real dialogue.

Mitchum is the Mr Allison of the title, an American Marine, who finds himself marooned on an island in the Pacific ocean, in World War II. The only other person on the island is Sister Angela, a nun who was also marooned there a few days earlier. Although the two of them have no common ground, with only each other for companionship, they form a friendship and affection for each other. But when the Japanese arrive on the island, they face a very real danger.

Before I go any further with this review, I have to say…I LOVED this film. Loved it. The cast (all two of them), the characters, the storyline – everything. Deborah Kerr is great as Sister Angela. The character had a gentle and kind nature, but also some real backbone, and a subtle sense of humour. This made her the perfect counterpoint to Mitchum’s Mr Allison, who was straight-talking, brave, heroic, and yes I admit it – very sexy! (Mitchum might not have been a conventional heart-throb, but my goodness he had something, and it’s very obvious here!)

The film reminded me in some ways of The African Queen – both directed by John Huston, both set during WWII, both have a main cast of just two characters with little in common, who find respect and affection for each other. However, while there are undoubtedly similarities, both films also have plenty of their own character and individuality, and the main parts in both films are played to perfection.

I started watching Heaven Knows, Mr Allison, with no expectations at all. I thought it sounded like a nice little film to pass a couple of hours away, but within about 10 minutes, I was totally pulled into the story and invested in the characters. It’s no exaggeration to say that this film has shot straight into my top five films of all time (alongside the aforementioned African Queen)! It left me with a warm happy feeling, and I will absolutely watch this again in the near future.

If you haven’t seen this delightful movie, I strongly suggest that you do so at the earliest opportunity!

Year of release: 1957

Director: John Huston

Producers: Buddy Adler, Eugene Frenke

Writers: Charles Shaw (book), John Lee Mahin, John Huston

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr

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This film, set in the Northwest American states, features Robert Mitchum as widower Matt Calder, newly released from prison and hoping to live a quiet life on his farm, with his young son Mark. Gambler Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun) and his girlfriend Kay (Marilyn Monroe) arrive at the farm, racing to get to the nearest town so that Harry can register his claim to some land which he won in a poker game. When Calder refuses to let Harry take his only rifle and his horse, Harry steals and leaves Kay behind with Matt and Mark. Unable to defend themselves against an impending attack by Native Americans, Matt, Mark and Kay are forced to take a dangerous journey down the river, on the raft that Harry left behind. Hostile territory, the ever-present threat of ambush, and a clash of personalities guarantee that this will not be an easy journey…

Considering that this film stars two movie greats – Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum – one might wonder why it is not better known. I suspect that it’s because it isn’t anywhere near the best film from either star. I’m personally in two minds about this film, and would compare it to eating cheap chocolate – you know that it’s not really very good, but you can’t help enjoying it all the same! Because that’s the thing about this movie…despite the hokey storyline, Marilyn’s less than stellar performance, and some very dodgy stereotyping of Native Americans, it is still quite an enjoyable movie. And while it’s not a great performance from Marilyn, it is interesting to see her playing (somewhat) against type. She may be a bar room singer, but she doesn’t play the whole dumb blonde thing here – instead, she’s a resourceful, feisty woman. Robert Mitchum meanwhile, is fine in his role, which is no more than you would expect. Rory Calhoun plays only a small part as Harry Weston, but he makes the most of it, and young Tommy Rettiq is impressive as Mark Calder.

The making of this film was not without its problems. Monroe and director Otto Preminger fell out during filming, and would only communicate through Mitchum (who had originally met Monroe back when she was Norma Jean Baker). Mitchum meanwhile was arrested for Marijuana possession during the filming of the movie (perhaps he needed it because of his role as go-between!)

All in all then, this is certainly not a memorable film, and if you want to watch either Mitchum or Monroe, then there are better films to see either of them in. However, it’s entertaining in its own way, and an enjoyable enough way to fill an hour and a half.

Year of release: 1954

Director: Otto Preminger, Jean Negulesco

Writers: Frank Fenton, Louis Lantz

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe, Tommy Rettiq, Rory Calhoun

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Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr play Lord Victor and Lady Hilary Ryall, a once aristocratic couple who have fallen on hard times, so open their stately home to paying tourists.  Charles Delacro (Robert Mitchum), a Texan millionaire is one such tourist who wanders into the wrong room, meets Hilary and is instantly attracted to her.  Hilary also feels the attraction and before long is running up to London for a secret tryst with Charles.  Meanwhile, Victor is upset at the thought of his wife falling in love with another man, and has a plan up his sleeve for getting her back…

This film is billed as a romantic comedy, and if you’re thinking that the above storyline doesn’t sound like a usual storyline for that genre – well so was I.  And indeed the first part of the film had little romance and even less comedy.  The storyline seemed to take massive leaps in a short period of time – Hilary and Charles met, and she went almost immediately from annoyance at his intrusion, to feeling mad about him and running off to meet him (although she had previously been apparently happy with her husband).  Victor meanwhile was lamenting the fact that his wife had fallen in love with another man, when she barely seemed to have had time to have exchanged more than a few words with him!  (I actually checked to make sure that I hadn’t missed out a huge chunk of the movie somehow).

However, just when I was starting to think I wouldn’t enjoy the film, things picked up with the arrival of Hilary and Victor’s vivacious friend Hattie, played wonderfully by Jean Simmons.  Thereafter, there was actually a lot of very funny moments and the film was most enjoyable.  Despite a rather disjointed first part, I was very glad I stuck with it!

What was perfect from beginning to end was the cast.  Cary Grant plays the part of the slightly scatterbrained Lord, who sees more than he lets on, to perfection, bringing humor and pathos to the character.  Robert Mitchum seemed an unusual choice for a romantic lead, but he was great – it’s no mean feat to make a character likeable when that same character is vigorously attempting to break up a marriage!  (And if you were thinking that it’s unlikely a woman would be tempted to pick Mitchum over Grant, here it’s just about plausible).  However, the part that really grabbed me was that of Hattie – Jean Simmons was so wonderful in this role.  It’s easy to imagine that Hattie could have been a very annoying character in the hands of  a different actress, but here she was sweet, sassy, lovable, exasperating and very very funny.  A special mention also for Moray Watson, who played the Sellers the butler.  Most of his interaction was with Victor, and he was the perfect foil for Grant’s bumbling Lord.  The only part that didn’t seem to stand out was that of Hilary, around whom the storyline revolved…I don’t think this was anything to do wtih Deborah Kerr’s portrayal, which was fine – it was more that the character was a difficult one to warm to.

And how does it all end?  Well, I’m not going to spoil it for you – you’ll just have to watch it and see…

Overall then, while this is not one of the best films I’ve seen recently, the cast made it definitely worth watching.  Any fans of any of the cast should certainly check this one out.

Year of release: 1960

Director: Stanley Donen

Writers: Hugh Williams, Margaret Vyner

Main cast: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Robert Mitchum

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