Exactly a week back, this blog was celebrating the birthday of a favourite of mine: the gorgeous Mumtaz turned 70. Today, Dusted Off celebrates the birth anniversary—the centenary, in fact—of another favourite of mine: Robert Mitchum.
Born on August 6, 1917, Mitchum first began appearing in cinema during the early 40s (having already worked in an eclectic range of jobs, from ditch-digging, professional boxing, theatre actor and writer, to a machine operator at Lockheed). Although he is today best known for noir films (think Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter), Mitchum acted in varied roles and genres. From one of the best submarine war films ever (The Enemy Below) to an unusual—and endearing—love story in Heaven Knows, Mr Allison; from the angsty medical drama Not as a Stranger to the hard-hitting expression against anti-Semitism, Crossfire… Mitchum was in films of all types.
To commemorate Mitchum’s birth centenary, I found myself in a dilemma. I’ve already reviewed several of his best-known films (not to mention several that are barely known). I’ve even devoted an entire week on Dusted Off to Mitchum. It seemed appropriate to review a Mitchum film: one of the classic noirs? Blog reader Hurdy Gurdy Man suggested Out of the Past or The Big Steal. I decided, instead, to review an unusual film, a sort of cusp between the Westerns that marked Mitchum’s early career and the noirs that marked his later years as an actor. Pursued is a noir Western.
Since The Train was, all said and done (though I’m not convinced about it) a suspense film, I decided to stick to that genre for this post as well. AndThen There Were None is a classic suspense film, based on Agatha Christie’s book of the same name. Christie’s book (originally titled Ten Little Niggers) is supposed to be the best-selling book of all time – 100 million copies sold to date, and with several cinematic adaptations as well.
Less than two months ago, a couple whom I am distantly connected to by marriage were in town. The lady’s American; her husband is Indian, and they live in New York. We were chatting about this and that, and the lady told us an interesting story: of how, some years back, they had been invited for a party, the birthday (I think) of someone very wealthy and famous. They were just entering—my ‘relative’ in a lovely purple-blue silk ‘temple sari’—when they ran into Elizabeth Taylor. Ms Taylor had one look at that temple sari and wanted to buy it. “She was willing to offer whatever sum I wanted,” my ‘relative’ recalled. “I couldn’t let her have it, of course. That was the sari I’d worn for my wedding reception; it had sentimental value… but it matched her eyes so completely.”
RIP, Ms Taylor. The lady with the violet eyes. The lady with the seven husbands. The lady who could set the screen on fire—both with her breath-taking beauty and her superb acting. Even though she’s no more with us (she passed away on March 23, 2011, at the age of 79), she will live on in her films, hopefully for many generations to come.
Really; I’m not trying to be corny, but that’s it. I was in the mood for a Hitchcock film, and having recently seen Pride and Prejudice again, I was also very keen on watching more of Olivier’s work. So Rebecca it was. Based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel, this was Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film, even though it’s set in England (in Cornwall, to be precise) and has an almost totally British cast.