What Times crit­ics said of cer­tain roles

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - cal­en­dar@la­times.com

Ac­tor Robert Mitchum broke into Hol­ly­wood do­ing Hopa­long Cas­sidy westerns in the early 1940s. He moved up quickly, ap­pear­ing in war pic­tures such as “Thirty Sec­onds Over Tokyo” and “The Story of G.I. Joe,” earn­ing an Os­car nom­i­na­tion for the lat­ter, his sole ac­knowl­edg­ment by the academy. Nei­ther his own mil­i­tary ser­vice nor an in­fa­mous 1948 mar­i­juana bust could slow his tra­jec­tory. His sleepy eyes and boxer’s nose were a nat­u­ral for film noir, and he be­came one of the big­gest post­war movie stars.

More cow­boys, pri­vate eyes and mil­i­tary roles fol­lowed, not to men­tion in­sou­ciant charm­ers, homi­ci­dal preach­ers and other morally am­biva­lent types, and Times crit­ics chron­i­cled his progress across a five-decade ca­reer: — Kevin Crust

The Story of G.I. Joe

“The ac­tors are mostly un­fa­mil­iar, and it would be hard for me to pick and choose as to merit among Robert Mitchum, Fred­die Steele, Wally Cas­sell and Jimmy Lloyd. They live their roles. Mitchum prob­a­bly will gain the great­est pop­u­lar ad­van­tage through the sym­pa­thy he ex­erts as the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer who is ul­ti­mately killed.” (Spoil­ers ap­par­ently weren’t a con­cern back then.) — Ed­win Schallert Aug. 9, 1945

The Night of the Hunter

“Robert Mitchum, in a cast­ing even more off­beat than his surly rancher of ‘Track of the Cat,’ plays Preacher Pow­ell. … It is doubt­ful that you will ever hear the old hymn, ‘Learning,’ again without re­call­ing the gaunt, flap­ping fig­ure of Preacher Pow­ell as he lams it out in the dark night — to the ter­ror of the lis­ten­ing young­sters. (Ex­tra! Mitchum sings.)” — Philip K. Scheuer April 17, 1955

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

“Splen­didly acted by both Mitchum and Miss [Deb­o­rah] Kerr, who in­du­bitably give per­for­mances in this pic­ture that in many re­spects they have never be­fore equaled.” — Ed­win Schallert

March 15, 1957

Thun­der Road

“Robert Mitchum por­trays the rough ace whiskey run­ner.… Per­for­mances by prin­ci­pals are what is to be ex­pected from good, re­li­able ac­tors.… Wal­ter Wise’s sce­nario from a story by Mitchum was, bar­ring a few soft spots, much bet­ter than av­er­age B.” — Charles Stin­son June 5, 1958

El Do­rado

“Mitchum de­liv­ered one of the loveli­est hang­over se­quences on record.” — Kevin Thomas Jan. 7, 1968

Ryan’s Daugh­ter

“Mitchum’s role is vastly dif­fer­ent from the kind of belch­ing semi­heroes he is cus­tom­ar­ily asked to play. He, too, re­veals an impressive gen­tle­ness and a com­mend­able earnest­ness, but I’m afraid his undis­guis­able Yan­kee­ness and the weight of ev­ery­thing else he has done pre­vents him from be­ing to­tally suc­cess­ful as an un­der­sexed ped­a­gog.” — Charles Cham­plin Nov. 15, 1970


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