“He is a master of stillness. Other actors act. Mitchum is. He has true delicacy and expressiveness, but his forte is his indelible identity. Simply by being there, Mitchum can make almost any other actor look like a hole in the screen.”
– David Lean

Robert Mitchum (1917-1997) would have turned 100 this month. Was any screen actor cooler than he was? When he was still a freshly minted star, a 1948 conviction for marijua- na possession—a scandal that would have destroyed many a Hollywood career—seemed only to enhance his outlaw image. Approached by a reporter after a stretch in county jail, he described it as “like Palm Springs, but without the riff-raff.”

That sense of irony informed a screen presence that made him ideal for film noir, but his laconic manner also led many to undervalue his skill as an actor. Calling him “one of the best actors in the movies,” critic David Thomson cites the “intriguing ambiguity in Mitchum’s work, the idea of a man thinking and feeling beneath a calm exterior that there is no need to put ‘acting’ on the surface. And for a big man, he is immensely agile, capable of unsmiling humor, menace, stoicism and, above all, of watching other people as though he were waiting to make up his mind.”

Early circumstances sent him on the road in his teens, and he began in Hollywood in bit parts and B-westerns. After a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Story of G.I. Joe (1945), his career took off and rarely slowed down. As a side- bar, he also had a recording career, and his graceful, melodic singing voice was occasionally featured in his films.

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SUNDAY, AUG. 13 • 4:30 & 7:00

35mm Print!

Robert Mitchum is a private eye hired by racketeer Kirk Douglas to track down the mis- tress who absconded with a fortune. He finds Jane Greer in Acapulco and falls in love with her himself. Considered a “B” movie in its time, it’s now regarded as a great film noir, perhaps the greatest. All the ingredients are here: cynical banter, a femme fatale, low-key photography, flashbacks with voiceover and a fatalistic mood. A must-see. With Rhonda Fleming. Camera: Nicholas Musuraca. Writer: Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes). Director: Jacques Tourneur. (US 1946) 97 min.

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THURSDAY, AUG. 17 • 4:30 & 7:00

Otto Preminger’s only western, filmed in sumptuous Technicolor and spectacular CinemaScope, is set in the American Northwest and stars Robert Mitchum as a widower recently released from prison and seeking out the 10-year-old son (Tommy Rettig) he hardly knows. Rising star Marilyn Monroe is the dance-hall singer who had taken care of the child, and Rory Calhoun, a gambler without scruples, is her purported fiancé. (US 1954) 91 min.

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SUNDAY, AUG. 20 • 4:30 & 7:00

The only movie Charles Laughton directed, this singular masterpiece was criminally ignored in its day. Written by James Agee from the novel by Davis Grubb, with ex- traordinary photography by Stanley Cortez, it is a poetic, even hallucinatory, gem of Southern Gothic, set in the Great Depression and starring Robert Mitchum (at his best) as a charismatic, self-styled preacher who’s really a psychopathic killer of lonely widows. In a tale of almost biblical import, this “false prophet ” pursues two children fleeing with a fortune, only to encounter “the mother of us all,” embodied by the great Lillian Gish. With Shelley Winters. (US 1955) 92 min.

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THURSDAY, AUG. 24 • 4:30 & 7:00

The Night of the Hunter didn’t contain the only psychotic villain up Robert Mitchum’s sleeve. In this tense thriller (remade in 1991 by Martin Scorsese), Mitchum plays Max Cady, an obsessive brute who exits prison only to stalk the lawyer (Gregory Peck) who sent him away and threaten his family (Polly Bergen, Lori Martin). With Martin Balsam. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Writer: James R. Webb, from The Executioners by John D. MacDonald. Director: J. Lee Thompson. (US 1962) 106 min.

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SUNDAY, AUG. 27 • 4:30 & 7:00

In one of his best performances, Robert Mitchum is an aging delivery truck driver who is also a low-level gunrunner for a Boston criminal organization. Also starring Peter Boyle and Richard Jordan, this tough, gritty neo-noir is rich in regional atmosphere, and Mitchum is, as Roger Ebert raved, “A weary middle-aged man, but tough and proud; a man who has been hurt too often in life not to respect pain; a man who will take chances to protect his own territory.” Music: Dave Grusin. Writer: Paul Monash, from the novel by George V. Higgins. Director: Peter Yates. (US 1973) 103 min.

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SUNDAY, SEPT. 3 • 4:30

Director David Lean’s penultimate screen epic is a lush romantic drama, set in 1916 Ireland in the wake of the Irish Republicans’ Easter Rebellion, while the First World War rages on the continent. In a village on the Dingle Peninsula, Robert Mitchum is a mild-mannered schoolmaster who marries young Sarah Miles, but her need for excitement drives her into a scandalous affair with wounded British officer Christopher Jones. Written by Robert Bolt and also starring Trevor Howard, John Mills and Leo McKern, it features spectacular cinematography by Freddie Young and music by Maurice Jarre. (UK 1970) 206 minutes plus intermission.

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