Within these 6 films we really get to see variances on the cool guy persona imbued by Robert Mitchum.
I wish this collection would have had The Night of the Hunter in it.
Brimming with movies that contain subtle shifts in each performance Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection is a well put together release, even though it doesn't contain some of the movies that his fans may really want. The 6 films in this set are:
- Angel Face
- Home From the Hill
- The Sundowners
- The Good Guys and the Bad Guys
- The Yakuza
Produced by Howard Hughes and directed by the renowned Otto Preminger, Mitchum plays Frank Jessup in Angel Face. He is a working stiff who sees brightness in a bad girl named Diane. Macao sees Mitchum in the role of Nick Cochran in a film that deals with undercover cops, stolen diamonds, and double crosses. Jane Russell co-stars in this film set in the Far East. As Wade Hunnicutt in Home From the Hill, Mitchum plays an older man, set in his ways, who finds himself up against a whole new generation. In The Sundowners Mitchum heads to Australia to play the role of sheepherder Paddy Carmody. The Good Guys and the Bad Guys sees a newer Old West and as Marshal James Flagg, Mitchum teams up with George Kennedy to show some youngins how the west was really won. Lastly, in The Yakuza Mitchum travels to Japan as Harry Kilmer, a man intent on solving a kidnapping case even if that means going up against the Japanese underworld.
This is certainly an eclectic mix of films even though on the surface it might all seem like classic Robert Mitchum. In this Signature Collection, one can easily see that the song may have played the same, but the singer certainly varied his pitch.
Commentary by Director Sydney Pollack
Drawing on his easygoing directorial style Sydney Pollack sits back and recounts the making of this film. He talks about how the culture class theme drew him to the project, how originally the script had more action but he called Robert Towne in to humanize the characters, and he breaks down how he composed certain shots. Aside from long stretches of this track where Pollack doesn't say a single word, I found this to be a very intriguing commentary. I especially liked the moments when he talked about the differences between Eastern and Western cultures.
Vintage Featurette Promises to Keep
Vintage Featurette On Location with The Sundowners
Shot in black and white and presented in a newsreel style, we are taken to the location of Australia where this movie was shot. There are some funny moments where the narrator says something and then an actor on the screen does something completely the opposite, but my favorite moments where when this piece focused on the kangaroos. This featurette gives a very surface level introduction to what this movie is about.
Film Noir historian Eddie Muller does the duties here and overall I was impressed with what he had to say. He offers little tidbits like how the opening music should tell the viewer right away that this film is different. He then explains the characters, what it means in the way they are revealed in this film, but the best stuff is when he talks about Howard Hughes. Apparently, Jean Simmons didn't want to do this movie so she chopped off all her hair. Hughes didn't fret, he simply provided her with wigs for the whole picture. There is also an interesting social discourse by Muller on what the Femme Fatale means in movie history.
On this track are Jane Russell, screenwriter Stanley Rubin and Eddie Muller. Muller leads the discussion between himself and Stanley Rubin. Apparently, Rubin was supposed to be a producer on this film but things didn't work out that way. Jane Russell is on this track separately and she chimes in every so often with Robert Mitchum stories. She also refers to him as "Mitch." Muller and Rubin talk a lot about the persona of Mitchum, and they remark that his role in this film allowed him to break out of that a little bit. They also point out the documentary-like footage that was shoot by the second unit team for this film.
TCM Private Screenings with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, Hosted by Robert Osborne
The Good Guys and The Bad Guys
Vintage Featurette The Good Guys From Chama
Told from the perspective of a small boy from the town in which this movie was shot, this featurette from 1969 seems almost ahead of it's time. We get to see the production through the child's eyes, as we are given a glimpse at life on the set mixed in with footage from the production. One of the more interesting moments was getting to see the train smash scene shot live. This is certainly worth a look but I wouldn't call it mandatory viewing.
Angel Face and Macao are in their standard versions presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of their original theatrical exhibitions. The rest of the films in Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection are in the widescreen version presented in the "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for Widescreen TVs. Warner Bros. has done a really nice job with all of these movies. I always discuss that in these collections we get to see the evolution of the film medium, but we also get to see how photo stocks evolved. We get black and white films that have been kept up nicely, in addition to really strong Technicolor inflected films that are so pristine they look like paintings.
Rather than list out every single sound spec that is shown on the back of each movie's cover, I will simply say that all the audio is in Dolby Digital. Truthfully, I didn't hear any real difference between the black and white movies like Macao and the later films like Home From the Hill. There is only 7 years difference between the movies, but that is centuries in the world of technical innovation. I love the older movies simply because it's interesting to see how much stage acting influenced not only the performances, but the way the movies were composed. The sound for each one of these films plays into all of that.
Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection comes with the classic gray and blue portrait of the actor that really gives this whole set a lot of class. The back offers up a Special Features listing, a tiny thumbnail sketch of each film, and a small one sheet of what every movie in the set looks like. Underneath this slipcase covering are some system specs for this set as well. All six movies come in six slim cases, each of them utilizing their original one sheet as the cover art (it seems). My favorite cover in this entire set goes to Home From the Hill. I feel it perfectly captures the themes and tone of this movie.
One thing I really like about Robert Mitchum as an actor is that he didn't always need to be a hero. There are some roles here (especially as Wade Hunnicutt) that are truly not glamorous. Also, Paddy Carmody might be seen as a stretch for this performer, but Robert Mitchum, despite the way he may have come across in public, was really a craftsman. He seemed to put his heart and soul into each one of these roles, and unlike some actors who I don't want to name (Brando?) I never got the impression that he merely took roles as paycheck jobs. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just seems like Mitchum had an old school approach to being a thespian and because of that he worked as hard as he could all the time.
I have been somewhat familiar with Robert Mitchum for awhile now. I don't think you can profess to having a love of cinema without at least A) knowing who he was and B) seeing a few of his films. Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection is an assortment of films that give any budding cineaste a crash course on this performer.
Macao was released April 11, 1952.