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TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Robert Mitchum

by Ed Tapper
Contributor
Sunday Apr 20, 2014
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In spite of Robert Mitchum’s notorious personal life and his many Hollywood scandals, he made countless films. Not only was he a fine actor, but, quite simply, the public liked him. His cool nonchalance qualified him for everything from a hero in Films Noirs and Westerns to the most despicable of villains, as in "Night of the Hunter." TCM pays homage to the star with the Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Robert Mitchum, a new DVD box containing four very worthwhile Mitchum vehicles.

The 1947 "Out of the Past" is renowned as being among the best Films Noirs ever produced. Jacques Tourneur’s nihilistic masterpiece has anti-hero Mitchum escaping to a small town after working for ruthless mob-boss Kirk Douglas. Douglas’ amoral mistress, brilliantly played by Jane Greer, is one of most treacherous femme fatales in film history. The black-and-white DVD quality is excellent; however, the disc contains no special features outside of thorough audio commentary.

Otto Preminger’s 1952 Noir, "Angel Face," shares the same basic plot element with "Out of the Past": That of an honest man being led astray by an untrustworthy, troubled female. In this one, unsuspecting ambulance-driver Mitchum falls for emotionally disturbed socialite Jean Simmons. To better ensnare her prey, she arranges a chauffeur position for him with her family. Disaster ensues before Mitchum realizes he is in over his head. "Angel Face" is rarely singled out as one of the quintessential films of its genre, but with its dark mood of foreboding, superb acting and direction, it’s a real sleeper. Commentary is by Noir specialist Eddie Mueller.

Not only was he a fine actor, but, quite simply, the public liked him.

With "The Sundowners," we move from the pitch-black world of Film Noir to the sun-drenched prairies of Australia. Free-wheeling Mitchum heads a family of itinerant sheep-herders, with loyal wife Deborah Kerr longing for a permanent home. Impeccably directed by Fred Zinneman, the film boasts excellent performances by the star duo and incomparable supporting actors Peter Ustinov and Glynis Johns. The widescreen picture quality is fair.

The final film is Vincente Minnelli’s glossy, 1959 "Home from the Hill." Mitchum has a field day as a wealthy, adulterous, Southern Patriarch married to frigid, manipulative Eleanor Parker. Mollycoddled by his possessive mother, their son (George Hamilton) comes into his own when romancing hometown girl Luana Patten, but soon discovers the scandalous truth about his family. In the mold of "Peyton Place," this lushly lurid film is beautifully photographed by Minnelli, and nicely acted by the colorful cast.

With four highly enjoyable films that showcase charismatic leading man Robert Mitchum, the new TCM collection is among the studio’s finest releases to date.

TCM Greatest Classic Legends Film Collection: Robert Mitchum
DVD
$27.92
www.warnervideo.com

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