MovieChat Forums > The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) Discussion > was mitchum considered one of the greats...

was mitchum considered one of the greats?


what makes robert mitchum a great actor .i just recently heard about him being mentioned with the greats .was just curious about what it was that made him great.?

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Mitchum was an extremely versatile actor with great range, not to mention a true "Star", a man's man who was idolized by the male audience members at his films (not unlike an earlier version of what James Dean was to the first Rock and Roll generation). He's in some of the greatest (and coolest) films of all time, and much of the reason for the greatness and coolness of those films is his presence in them. For example, he's in what is considered by many to be the best films noir ever made - Out Of The Past (if it's not the best, it's certainly top 5), and it would be a different film with any other actor in the lead...in fact, Kirk Douglas is in OOTP, and he is dwarfed by Mitchum's presence in that great movie (granted, it was early in KD's career). Similarly, see Cape Fear, with another all-time great, Gregory Peck. Granted, Mitchum's role was juicier and showier, but still, he's the whole film...and just try to imagine Cape Fear without him. Or Night Of The Hunter for that matter.

Mitchum was one of the first high-profile Hollywood stars to be busted for marijuana possession...onscreen and off he just projected a cynicism (perfect for noir) and an I-don't-give -a-s**t attitude that, IMO, people liked to live through vicariously. I don't know if the offscreen stuff goes along with him being considered one of "The Greats", but I think it at least partially explains why Mitchum appeals to movie goers, even today.

"The things I do for love..." Jaime Lannister

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"Mitchum was one of the first high-profile Hollywood stars to be busted for marijuana possession...onscreen and off he just projected a cynicism (perfect for noir) and an I-don't-give -a-s**t attitude that, IMO, people liked to live through vicariously".

i don't care so much about his rep out of film as i do his rep as and actor and doing films .i seen night of the hunter .He almost seems to be over acting .he does have a strong manly aura to him .like a john wayne .He just seems to be playing himself i've seen cape fear before never looked at him like that .just never noticed him i will have to go back check him out .i think gregory peck had more versatility then mitchum .mitchum it seems is good at playing the tough guy role .his look doesn't seem to change much .he's like the tough guy version of james dean

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I´m not nearly as impressed with Mitchum´s supposed range as the other poster, but indeed no one can doubt he was one of the coolest guys around.



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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i seen a few of his roles and it seems that he just plays himself not that hes bad actor .just seems he plays himself

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I don't remember the name of the 50's picture --taking place in N.Ireland-- but his accent was outstanding and the ease at which he pulled it off so complete that you knew you were watching a big talent. He later went on to do Ryan's Daughter but the former role was much more demanding.

I don't think Mitchum was the most ambitious guy in H'wood and his stupid attitude about lots of stuff probably turned people off. But I think when he wanted to he was capable of things others couldn't even approach.

" See dat scenery floatin by, you're now approaching NewportRI." Cole Porter

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Robert Mitchum's acting was so brilliant that young viewers of today like @kidjay83 thinks he was "playing himself".

Like Clint Eastwood always "plays himself"?

The real Robert Mitchum considered acting a lightweight job. He lucked into it rambling around California as a young man. With his sleepy eyes, masculine physique and powerful charisma, the camera devoured this guy, and he became a huge movie star, idolized by men and adored by women. He never aspired to this -- it just happened.

Maybe when you get older you will be able to appreciate his brilliant timing and the subtlety of some of the delivery of his lines. Movies then were made in a very different way, but let's not go into that. Just be grateful that his classic performances exist. Because actors like Mitchum are very rare who can make their performances look so effortless.

I don't want to rag on too many current actors that many people seem to love, but nobody out there right now can touch Mitchum. Nobody. There are a couple of great movie actors hanging around -- Robert Downey Jr., Idris Elba to name a couple. But most of the "icons" like Matt Damon or George Clooney show that they are "acting" in nearly every single frame. Some recent performances on first viewing seem OK, but when you watch them a couple of times, they fall apart. Robert Mitchum's performances hold up after repeated viewings for almost 50 years. Go figure.


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Robert Downey Jr., Idris Elba to name a couple. But most of the "icons" like Matt Damon or George Clooney " How are you going to sit there and talk about mitchum being this great actor when you compare him to actors like clooney i mean come on seriously. I like idris but he's fresh out the box still and robert downey is a good american actor just not a legend .
I think mitchum was more a song man he should of done musicals maybe he would of learned more than one note . His attitude toward acting proves my point he was just there to collect the pay check he didn't take it all that serious .

You see things; and you say,But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not?

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Spot on. Really good acting is about being grounded in yourself and finding those little human moments that ring true for you and the audience watching you. Sanford Meisner boiled his entire approach to teaching acting down to "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances."

In other words, behave the way you would behave as a real human being according to what's going on in the script. Really fine acting looks so easy that any casual viewer believes that there's nothing to it, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It takes a great deal of self-confidence and courage to just stand there and be a person, resisting the temptation to "act" and be false. To get there you have to do a lot of preparation, absorbing the script and becoming one with the character you're playing.

Film actors of Mitchum's generation were often natural talents with little or no training. Instinct and experience made them great, though they were eventually eclipsed by the next generation's combination of natural ability and serious, in-depth training in the Method and other parallel approaches.

"Beethoven had his critics too, Keith. See if you can name three of 'em."

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"Like Clint Eastwood always plays himself?"

Eastwood had indeed a very narrow range of characters he could portray - good or bad, they always shared a lot of the same basic characteristics. Mitchum`s incomparably more diverse and subtle than Eastwood could ever dream of being.



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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Hollywood Tinseltown stardom tends to cloud the fact that some 'stars' are really great actors and consequently they are underrated. Mitchum was one of those. He had the rare quality of appealing to both men and women. Men wanted to be him, women wanted to be his. As the Hollywood studio system waned, Mitchum turned to TV miniseries, like Winds of War, and showed that he still had what it takes. Was he great? You betcha.

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After Robert Mitchum died, I saw an interview with his son.

It appears that R.M. got old & was told by his doctor that he had to stop drinking & smoking. He died in his sleep one night & his son was called to his home. When he got there, he found, next the R.M.'s favorite chair, an empty shot glass & a cigerette butt in an ash tray. He said his father probably couldn't sleep, so he got up, had a shot of bourbon & a smoke & went back to bed, where he quietly passed away. It seems he died on his own terms, which was the way he always lived.

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Look I like Mitchum, thought he was fantastic in some roles but he also had problems. I thought he did a lot of stuff for the money and didn't really apply max effort.

So I don't think he's really considered one of the greats even though he undoubtedly was one of the greats.
Obviously he was nowhere near the star of a Duke Wayne but Wayne couldn't possibly have done some of the content Mitchum did.

Mitchum also had a big mouth which may (or may not) have been a put-on IDK? He said lots of things I didn't like but one remark in particular, putting down Alan Ladd I've never really forgiven him for. Ladd had a great career without being a great talent he was more of movie star presence. Maybe Mitchum had hit a roadblock in his work and lashed out at this pint-sized guy with the deep voice and trench coat.

Kisskiss, Bangbang

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Let me add something to what I said before (I was the first responder to the Op), as someone said "supposed range", which I guess was meant to mean he had none. First, I don't claim to know all about the history of film, but when speaking of range, I'm of the opinion that women's roles are written with greater range, in general, allowing for the perception that women are more emotional than men. So I think because people never saw Mitchum cry it means he had no range. Go watch The lusty Men. I won't lay a long list on you, but watch that one. If you think it's the "same old Mithcun role, playing himself", just give up because you won't get it.

And as fr as him just playing himself, Bogart said that, as a compliment, about Spenser Tracy, and he said "if you think that's easy, just try it".

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So what I mean as far as a guy like Mitchum showing range, you have to look closer, these guys are subtle - same as Spenser Tracy.

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He's definitely one of the greats. Check out The Story of G.I. Joe, Crossfire, Out of the Past, The Night of the Hunter, and Cape Fear (the original, not the Scorsese remake).

"This life's hard, man, but it's harder if you're stupid!"

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This question has already been thoroughly answered, but for those of us who appreciate his greatness, it's hard not to get excited about Robert Mitchum. Any chance to talk about him...it's hard to turn down.

Yes, I'd say he's one of the greats. The work naturally speaks for itself (and Coyle is probably my favourite autumnal performance of Mitchum's) and when he's got a decent script and a competent director, there's few who can touch him for natural charisma.

But more than that, Mitchum (as little as he claimed to care about such things) seemed to always give credence to the inner life of his characters. Something about the way he'd say his lines -- it was like he was always holding something back, and that gave him power. The audience could sense it.

It doesn't hurt that he's got an incredible baritone voice, imposing frame and incredible physical grace.

Take his part in El Dorado. I can't remember if it was Bogdonovich or David Thomson, but one of them pointed out something telling about his first scene. He's got better moments in the film (like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hCmqXynysY), and he's given an ungodly amount of expository dialogue to spew at John Wayne -- yet he's totally captivating. He rushes through the words without seeming to. It's not an easy scene, but it sure is easy to watch.

Who else could make a scene like that fly? Any other actor in that part would be "the guy who's in the scene with John Wayne and brings him up to speed". But it's Mitchum we're interested in, rather than Duke.

Mitchum's career is filled with little cinematic miracles like that. There are few actors that I can authentically claim I'd "watch in anything". I'd watch Robert Mitchum in anything.

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I'll just lift this handy summary of Mitchum straight from the incomparable Roger Ebert's review of the film:

"He has always been one of our best screen actors: sardonic, masculine, quick-witted, but slow to reveal himself. He has never been in an absolutely great film; he doesn’t have masterpieces behind him like Brando or Cary Grant. More than half his films have been conventional action melodramas, and it is a rare summer without at least one movie in which Mitchum wears a sombrero and lights bombs with his cigar. But give him a character and the room to develop it, and what he does is wonderful. Eddie Coyle is made for him: 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."

Thanks once again, Roger.

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Yeah, he was, and is.

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Yeah I think he was, the fact that he got so much work supports that imo.

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I think he narrowly missed being one of the greats. He was always very good, always fun to watch, always someone you wanted to be around in real life, always someone you paid attention to when on camera.

The biggest reason I'd call him "one of the damn goods" rather than "one of the greats", is as far as I've followed his career, he never had that one great role in a great film that allowed him to really show what he could do. Some of his contemporary rivals had their "Elmer Gantry" or "True Grit" that allowed them to shine their brightest and gained them some big awards.

Or maybe he did and I missed it.

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