Robert Mitchum


  1. James Warren, Wanderer of the Wasteland, 1944.    RKO’s Zane Grey hero was off in the US Army and 6ft 4in Warren took over the series, freeing Mitchum for better fare after his GI service.  Mitchum claimed to be a Black Foot indian  – “My father was Indian on both sides.”Lawrence Tierney, Dillinger, 1945.   RKO refused an offer from The King Brothers, deeming the gangster role too unsavory- for Mitchum?!
  2. Lawrence Tierney, Dillinger,   1944.      RKO refused to allow its current favourite son to play, as other titles called him, Killer D and John Dillinger. But the studio had no problem in loaning Tierney for what became his signature rôle. After which he was typed for life…even on Seinfeld and in Reservoir Dogs!  No wonder Mitchum  saw acting as “getting all painted up and making faces … I was a journeyman actor – never bitten by the star bug.”
  3. Michael O’Shea, It’s A Pleasure, 1945.     Tiring of “supporting horses – or vice-versa” in Western cheapies, Mitchum tested for Sonja Henie’s lover. Too tall!
  4. Lionel Barrymore, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946. 
  5. Howard DaSilva, They Live By Night, 1948.      Keen to work with director Nicholas Ray, Mitchum even dyed his hair black when testing for the Indian bankrobber Chicamaw. Once more the Front Office stepped in – not a big enough role for “our horse-shit salesman.”
  6. Joel McCrea, Colorado Territory, 1948.      For the Western re-make of his 1941 Bogart classic, High Sierra, Raoul Walsh wanted Mitchum and was given McCrea.Not quite the fairest of exchanges. And no room for Pard, the dog.
  7. Orson Welles, The Third Man, 1948.  Joseph  Cotten, Orson Welles, director Carol Reed, Anton Karas’ zither score – they’re fixed in the collective imagination, as vividly as the classic post-war thriller. David O Selznick, however, is forgotten as the producer, a parody of his former Gone With The Wind glory, full of fatuous notions like Noel Coward or Robert Mitchum (then in jail, becoming a mythic Hollywood hero jail after his marijuana bust) for the titular Harry Lime (based on author Graham Greene’s superior in the UK Secret Intelligence Service: the infamous double agent Kim Philby). Welles wasn’t keen,  until needing funds  to finish – or start –  his Othello.  (The usual problem with his projects).The Selznick version would have been forgotten in a week,  said US critic Roger Ebert, of his  favourite film – as flawless as the very best of Hitchcock.
  8. Robert Preston, Tulsa, 1948.   Mitchum and Dana Andrews up for the same role, that’s like juggling Franchot Tone or Olivier for Hamlet! However,  producer Walter Wanger had to locate someone fitting his pocket. 

  9. Victor Mature, Samson and Delilah, 1948.   
    Cinemperor Cecil B DeMIlle first planned the epic in 1935 for Henry Wilcoxon and Miriam Hopkins.   Next in line, producer David O Selznick envisaged Kirk Douglas and Marlene Dietrich… By ’48, CB got serious. So did James Mason – suggesting $250,000. (DeMille showed him  the door). He toyed with Roberts Mitchum, Ryan  and Taylor; ruled out  Lex Barker (he became a five-time Tarzan) and Burt Lancaster –  too inexperienced, a bad back and  “bad” politics. Other also-rans went from longtime CB acolyte John Bromfield, Rory Calhoun, Jim Davis (future father of JR in Dallas),  Errol Flynn, William Hopper (Hedda’s son!), John Ireland, Glen Langan, Willard Parker… to the youngest new evangelist in town, Dr Billy Graham!. Then, CB was telling 22-year-old Steve Reeves, to tone down his muscularity – while packing Mature  off to the gym to beef his up!  Here’s a review by Groucho Marx: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”

  10. Spencer Tracy, Malaya, 1949.      Or Operation Malaya when Mitchum was due to be jailbird Carny Carnahan -at RKO opposite Merle Oberon. Clark Gable visited his pal on the set. “This time,” said Tracy, “I get the girl.” Just becauseI’m not in it.” laughed Gable.
  11. Van Johnson, Battleground, 1949.   Producer  Dore Schary had booked  Roberts Mitchum and Ryan, plus Bill Williams for The Battle of the Bulge script about  “The Battered Bastards of Bastogne”. No, said RKO’s owner Howard Hughes: people are tired of war films. Schary moved to MGM – where his new boss, LB Mayer, said much the same.  Schary insisted and the film  was such a winner than he  was  swiftly elected to the Metro board and Mayer was  fired in 1951.
  12. Gary Cooper, Dallas,  1949.  A fine  old-fashioned Western  with a fine  old-fashioned star – and Coop seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.  Well, he had beaten Mitchum and Errol Flynn to renegade-turned marshal Reb Hollister.
  13. Victor Mature, The Las Vegas Story, 1950.      Laura scenarist Jay Dratler’s original script (not many of them to the pound) went from Burt Lancaster at Warner in 1948 to Mitchum (or Robert Ryan) at RKO in January 1950, before Mature arrived from Fox with his one RKO movie a year deal in November. 
  14. Dewey Martin, The Big Sky, 1951.   The only time Howard Hawks ever envisaged Brando for a film was for AB Guthrie Jr’s Western “love story” of Boone Caudill  and the older Jim Deakins. The Silver Fox mused upon Brando in either role opposite Sydney Chaplin, Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum or, more explosively, Montgomery  Clift (!). Marlon  was too expensive at $125,00) and Hawks slid downwards into Kirk Douglas and Dewey Martin –  who sounded like a Donald Duck nephew.
  15. Charlton Heston, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1951.    Three years before CB De Mille made his old dream of a circus film (and inspired a six-year-old Phoenix kid named Spielberg to make movies), the Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick planned risking $6m on a big top number named after the slogan of the Ringling Bros circus. The DOS line-up would have featured Mitchum, Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, Dorothy McGuire, , Gregory Peck, Shirley Temple and Alida Valli.  Obviously the DeMille  epic had a different script, but it’s safe to surmise  that the characters  would have been much the same… trapeze stars, lion-tamer, elephant girl, circus boss.
  16. Robert Newton, Blackbeard, The Pirate, 1951.    What a genial  jdea – Mitchum as a pirate!   Now that would have been worth seeing. That was Plan A: Robert Stevenson helming Mitchum, Victor Mature, Faith Domerge, and Jack Buetel. Plan B became Raoul Walsh in charge (some of the time) of an outlandishly hammy Newton opposite Linda Darnell, William Bendix and Keith Andes. Sixteen years later, Stevenson got a second chance – guiding Peter Ustinov as Blackbeard’s Ghost at Disney.
  17. Burt Lancaster, From Here To Eternity, 1952.
  18. Rory Calhoun, Way Of A Gaucho, 1952.     Everyone knew the role was almost hand-made for Mitchum, but for unexplained reasons, Hollywood’sresident realisateur Jacques Tourneur dropped the star of his Out Of The Past, 1947, in favour of the flyweight Calhoun.
  19. Trevor Howard, Outcast of the Islands, 1953.     Very high on the British offer as Joseph Conrad ranked among his favourite writers. Mitchum got higher the same night – August 31 1948. Said the drugs-bust cops: “Occupation?” Said Bob: “Former actor.”  Mitchum and Howard later co-starred – beautifully – for David Lean in Ryan’s Daughter, 1969
  20. Victor Mature, The Robe, 1953.     Director Mervyn Le Roy suggested Mitchum for the second lead in 1944. And he tested as Demetrius – in Roman costumes. That must have been quite a sight…  Once the epic began nine years later, Bob was tied up in… Girl Rush with Carney & Brown, RKO’s wannabe Abbott& Costello.

  21. Gilbert Roland, The French Line, 1953.    The top male star ofRKO’stycoon Howard Hughes balked at a third teaming with histop female, Jane Russell. Louella Parsons called them “the hottest combination that ever hit the screen.” But Mitchum knew how the Hughes hype would flow.Not Bob’sway. And it didn’t:“Jane Russell in3-D!   It’ll knock both your eyes out!”  It ?
  22. Dick Powell, Susan Slept Here, 1953.   Mitchum, Dan Dailey, Cary Grant, were in the frame until Hollywood scripter Mark Christopher became Powell’s 58th and final movie role before TV producing and film directing. Mitchum  preferred suspension to this song ’n’ dance froth.  Within the next five years, Powell directed him twice: The Enemy Below, The Hunters, 1957-1958. Both men also played Philip Marlowe. Debbie Reynolds was Susan and the US Catholic Legion of Decency (!) was  aghast at the title… but not by  George Washington Slept Here in  1942.
  23. Sterling Hayden, Johnny Guitar, 1954.      Despite the kudos of the first Mitchum-Nick Ray endeavour, The Lusty Men, 1952, RKO refused to loan Bob to Ray – at Republic.
  24. Ronald Reagan, Cattle Queen of Montana, 1954.      Still feuding with Howard Hughes, Bob went on suspension rather than be second banana to Barbara Stanwyck – back to being a poet and saxophonist (famous, in his family for his jazz version of Silent Night at every family Xmas).
  25. Alan Ladd, Saskatchewan, 1954.     Mitchum had two offerss with Alberta locations. He took the A script, River Of No Return,opposite “the dumbest girl in the world,” ex-wife of a co-worker when Bob toiled at the Lockheed Aircraft factory in Burbank.Marilyn Monroe.
  26. Tyrone Power, Untamed, 1954.  Free at last, free at last!…! Back on the RKO payroll, for a mere $5,000 a week, Bob was finally loaned out. His leading lady was delayed – no way he could complete shooting before the end of his RKO contract.  He quit. And the  second unit body-double never matched Power. Mitchum was finally free to choose:  Night of the Hunter, Heaven Knows Mr Allison. Yes, but also Bandido, Matilda and… and God in Les Sept peches capitaux/The Seven Deadly Sins, 1992!  Power, too, was free – playing Boer leader Paul Von Riebeck in this African adventure was the  final gig of his 18-year Fox contract.

  27. Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
  28. James DeanGiant, 1955.

  29. John Wayne, Blood Alley, 1955.
    Mitchum was fired by William Wellman, director of his first big hit, The Story of GI Joe, 1945. “He’s my favourite actor,” said Wild Bill. “He was on dope, always walking about six inches off the ground. He punched one of the drivers, knocked him into the bay, goddam nearly killed him.    So I fired him…!”   Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Gregory Peck were unavailable, Kirk Douglas was working. Burt Lancaster was “no dice” and Fred MacMurray “not big enough.” And so producer John Wayne sang the old song. “Aw, shucks, suppose I’ll have to do it, although I don’t don’t feel up to it.” Mitchum said only Louella Parsons told the true story. “And they killed her column. The transportation boss weighed 300 lbs. I was supposed to have picked him up and thrown him in the bay. No way.” The truth? “I think Duke Wayne was renegotiating his Warners contract… They agreed, provided he did one more film on his old contract. ‘Wal, we got that picture up at San Raphael.’ Duke [on his honeymoon] said: ‘No, Mitchum’s doing that.’ ‘Was!’ That was the end of that.” Exit Mitchum from Wayne’s Batjac production. He was soon in another (better) movie, Man With The Gun, and within three months, had formed his own DRM company. No one was going to fire him again – in fact Mitchum fired Audie Murphy and replaced him in Thunder Road, 1958.

  30. Randolph Scott, Seven Men From Now, 1955.   Actor Paul Fix brought Burt Kennedy’s script to Batjac, better than anything Wayne had read since The Searchers – which he’d just finished, so too early for another vengeful Western.  When Gary Cooper, Joel McCrea and Robert Preston passed, Mitchum tried to buy the project.. Finally, as producer, Duke rescued Scott’s fading career with this first of five Westerns (programmers, really) with director Budd Boetticher – all written by Kennedy for Wayne,  who eventually let Kennedy direct him in The War Wagon, 1966, and The Train Robbers, 1972.

  31. Marlon Brando, Guys and Dolls, 1955.    Producer Sam Goldwyn lost Gene Kelly and ran through every available top actor for Sky Masterson. Brando was worried about singing and being overshadowed by the Nathan Detroit role.“Fear him not, Antony,” cabled director Joseph Mankiewicz, “Let thy name be pricked with mine and let us kill the people. Love, Joe.”

  32. Jack Lemmon,  You Can’t Run Away From It, 1955.    For his third gig as  director,  ex-song-and-dance man Dick Powell chose a musical version of It Happened One Night.  Couples suggested for the 1945 Clark Gable-Claudette Colbert roles, were Van Johnson-June Allyson (Mrs Powell), Mitchum-Constance Towers  and, ultimately, Jack Lemmon-Allyson (still sleeping with the director!). (Mitchum and Lemmon co-starred in Fire Down Below the following year).  This was a prophetic title as Powell’s previous assignment, The Conqueror,  1955, led to terminal cancer for 90 of the 220 cast and crew (including John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Powell,  himself) – after shooting at an obviously still radiaoctive 1953 atomic bomb test site in Yucca Flat, Nevada.

  33. Humphey Bogart, The Harder They Fall, 1955.  RKO bought Budd Schulberg’s boxing exposé in 1947 – for Robert Mitchum as the ex-sports writer hired as a publicist by Joseph Cotten’s crooked boxing promoter. In what was,  sadly,  Bogie’s  84th and final film.

  34. Robert Stack, Great Day in the Morning, 1955.    After  Richard  Burton passed on his first (and only) Western offer, producer Edmund Grainger, aimed for Mitchum or (the 25-years older!) William Powell. Stack was two years younger than Mitchum.

  35. Victor Mature, The Long Haul, 1956.      Twogether again…  Brando and Mitchum were run up the flagpole for Harry Miller in the trucking thriller –  the fourth of six films Mature made for Warwick, co-run  in London by a certain Cubby Broccoli. He’d made a habit of wooing Hollywood talent to prop up his exotic adventures and thrillers: Anita Ekberg, Rhonda Fleming (no kin to Ian), Rita Hayworth, Alan Ladd, Jack Lemmon, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark.. A British film.  Had to be.  Arthur Mullard was in it.  “Arfer” was everyone’s favourite Cockney support player – in 168 other gigs.  And Cubby got Mitchum later that year for Fire Down Below.
  36. Alan Ladd, Boy On A Dolphin, 1957.    Cary Grant quit when his wife, Betsy Drake, was among the survivors of the SS Andrea Doria sinking, off Nantucket on July 25, 1956. Brando and  Gable refused to party. Bob held out for John Huston’s tons better Heaven Knows Mr Allison.  Two years later, he substituted Ladd in The Angry Hills.
  37. Kirk Douglas, Gunfight at the OK Corral, 1957.       Refusing Doc Holliday was one of his few (admitted) regrets. John Sturges always saw Humphrey Bogartas Doc – both legends were dying. Sturges then moved on to Mitchum or Widmark. Bob could have beaten them all. On his own. Between drinks.
  38. Aldo Ray, The Naked and the Dead, 1957.  After working together on The Night of the Hunter, Mitchum, director Charles Laughton and producer Paul Gregory  arranged  a $3million budget in 1954  for filming Norman Mailer’s first book – “one of the finest, most authentic novels about war” – based on his WWII experiences as a sergeant in the South Pacific. Their plans were curtailed by the now classic Hunter being a box-office flop. Marlon Brando and Burt Lancaster were also sought for Sergeant Sam Croft. He was not based on Mailer, himself. He maintained the character closest to him was Roth played by future Sinatra Clan comic Joey Bishop.
  39. Rock Hudson, Battle Hymn, 1957.      “I cannot possibly allow a man who has been jailed for taking drugs to play me,” fumed the film’s subject, ColonelDean E Hess, a cleric who killed many Koreans in that war as a fighter pilot. Apparently, no one let on that Hudson was gay. 
  40. Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1957.   Mitchum passed Brick to Newman  after some ridiculous MGM thoughts about poor Montgomery Clift for the ex-football player husband of a sexually frustrated Elizbaeth Taylor.
  41. Rick Jason, The Wayward Bus, 1957. When Marilyn Monroe, so  cruelly scorned by her studio, astounded us in Bus Stop, Fox dusted down John Steinbeck’s busload of Chaucerian passengers to do the same for Jayne Mansfield. (Hah!).  The main couple of the bus driver and his alcoholic wife, Alice (running a pitstop diner) went from the unlikely Franco-British Charles Boyer-Gertrude Lawrence to Marlon Brando-Jennifer Jones to Robert Mitchum-Susan Hayward to Richard Widmark-Gene Tierney to, finally, Rick Jason-Joan Collins.  Incidentally, Marilyn’s bus driver, Robert Bray, turned up here as a chopper pilot hovering around Collins. (He then blew his career by refusing South Pacific).

  42. Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones, 1958.    Two convicts on the run… chained together. “Just isn’t true,” complained Mitchum.  “I was on a chain gang in Georgia.  I know what it’s like – black and white are never chained together.”  Brando liked the integration message, he didn’t like the way Kramer had produced their film, The Wild One.  Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and Frank Sinatra all refused to co-star with Sidney Poitier.  So much for liberal Hollywood.   Billy Wilder explained it this way. Brando wanted to play the black convict, Mitchum would refuse to film “with a nigger” and Kirk Douglas wanted both roles.

  43. Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, 1958.
  44. Ricky NelsonRio Bravo, 1958.

  45. Stuart Whitman, Hound-Dog Man, 1959.    First director, Ida Lupino, wanted Mitchum as the skirt-chasing Blackie Scantling.  Next, Wild Bill Wellman  went second generation –  Bing Crosby’s son and Alan Ladd’s David (even Mickey Rooney’s nine-year-old Teddy, as Spud). Finally, Don Siegel chose Whitman was Blackie opposite…  the Elvis wannabe, Fabian. First, Lindsay Crosby, then his older brother Dennis (1934-1991), both  commited suicide.
  46. Harry Morgan, The Mountain Road, 1959.   Plan  A was  Marlon Brando as Major Baldwin opposite Robert Mitchum’s Sergeant Mike Michaelson in an unique WWII story.  Well, it was set in East China, 1944. Plan B was the only war film James Stewart agreed to make as he considered such endeavours  were rarely  realistic.  . Morgan said Jim saw this one as being anti-war.
  47. Stewart Granger, North To Alaska, 1960.     Big John Wayne sent it to Mitchum in 1959 asThe Alaskans.
  48. Kirk Douglas, Town Without Pity, 1960.     Another star running his own company changed his mind at the last minute.

  49. Clark Gable, The Misfits, 1960.
    Bob’s favourite director John Huston only ever wanted Mitchum to portray  Arthur Miller’s burnt-out cowboy Gay Langland opposite the lady the script was all about – Marilyn Monroe.   “Tell him I died!”  said Mitchum, insisting Huston had almost killed him on  Heaven Knows Mr Allison1957.  “His air of  casualness, or rather his lack of pomposity is put down as a lack of seriousness,” said Huston. “When I say he’s a very fine actor, I mean of the calibre of Olivier, Burton and Brando – the very best in the field. He’s capable of playing King Lear.” As mentioned earlier, Marilyn was  the ex-wife of a co-worker of Mitchum when he  worked  at the Lockheed Aircraft factory in Burbank.

  50. Efrem Zimbalist Jr, By Love Possessed, 1960.  James Gould Cozzens’s well-deserved best-seller was churned into a copy-Peyton-Place soap with matching histrionics from the same star, Lana Turner.  No wonder Charlton Heston and Robert Mitchum refused  a one-night-stand affair with her, the wife of his crippled law partner, Jason Robards Jr, who best summed it up. “The worst film ever made.” And so enter a telly smoothie. 
  51. Frank Sinatra, 4 For Texas, 1963.     Before Frank Sinatra decided to make it with pally Dean Martin, Mitchum and James Stewart and were the studio’s ideas for Zach. Various critics called the mess a Clan Western. Not so. It was iust Frankie and Dino messing around. No Sammy Davis Jr, for example. And why not?  Because Sammy was the fastest draw in Hollywood.  And they weren’t.
  52. Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou, 1965.       If Marvin won an Oscar for the dual role of the town drunk and the gunfighter with a tin nose, surely Mitchum would have finally won, as well.
  53. John Wayne, The Sons of Katie Elder, 1965.   Ten years earlier, Alan Ladd, then Burt Lancaster were due as John Elder.  Next came Charlton Heston, before Wayne signed on in 1964. Shooting was then postponed until after his “Big C” surgery cost him one lung and two ribs in September. He immediately told director Henry Hathaway: “Get Kirk.” No, Hathaway would wait for Duke’s recovery.  Even so, William Holden and Robert Mitchum were first reserves in case Wayne couldn’t make what proved a slow-moving Western. What else when the star needed an oxygen tank… and his stunt-double Chuck Roberson doing his horse-riding in long shots.  After four months off, Wayne carried on smoking (cigars replacing cigarettas) in a Western he was patently too old for. (At  57, he was 36 years older than his youngest screen broher – Michael Anderson, Jr!).
  54. Marlon Brando, Reflections In A Golden Eye, 1967.  Despite their mutual admiration society, Mitchum was not free to take up Huston’s latest offer… .   Marlon Brando had been first choice for UK director Tony Richardson’s plan (with Jeanne Moreau) in the early 50s. But now Brando was sixth… after Mitchum, Montgomery Clift, William Holden, Lee Marvin, Patrick O’Neal. Or. in fact, seventh, as another Brit, Michael Anderson, wanted Burt Lancaster in 1956 as the same Major Weldon Penderton, the sexual mess, married but fancying the pants off Private Williams  (when he had them on).  Out of work for four years or so, Clift was uninsurable. “Bessie Mae” (Elizabeth Taylor) put up the $1m bond money for a 60s version, with Burton directing and playing Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon.  But nobody, including Clift, felt he could act anymore. Brando was superb.
  55. Rod Steiger, In The Heat of the Night, 1967.     Another miffed Oscar chance. “Just isn’t true. First shot is of a saloon in Mississippi.Don’t have saloons in Mississippi.”
  56. Richard Widmark, The Way West, 1967.    “They were right to swap roles,” thought director Andrew V McLaglen.
  57. William Daniels, The Graduate,1967. 
  58. William Holden, The Wild Bunch, 1968.
  59. John Wayne, True Grit, 1968.      Determined to restore his fame after the Green Berets debacle, John Wayne loved old Rooster Cogburn – if not his eye-patch. Producer Hal Wallis said he’d make the film with or without him. And talked to Mitchum and Walter Matthau. Excellent choices. But on On April 7, 1970, Duke won his one and only Oscar. Until reading the script, Mitchum was also up for the terrible 1974 sequel, Rooster Cogburn. (More like The African Queen on terra firma).
  60. George C Scott, Patton, 1968.

  61. Jack Elam, Rio Lobo, 1969.    “Why bother?” John Wayne told Howard Hawks. “I’ve already made the movie twice.”  Mitchum  probably added: “And I already was The Drunk last time.” Now he was offered The Old Galoot  – a smidgen early at  52. Then Wayne  asked Hawks: “Wal, am I The Drunk, this time?” Of course not! Elam stole the show (which included Chris Mitchum). Although Roger Ebert was most kind – “Wayne movies are rituals, and so it is fitting that they resemble each other” – the second Rio Bravo re-hash was all shagged out. Hawks blamed Duke for being too old at 63.  Hrmph!   Hawks was 73.  He never made another movie.  Wayne managed eight more.
  62. Bill Williams, Rio Lobo, 1970.       Having been stuck on Ryan’s Daughter for ten months (four months longer than his USArmy service), Bob was retiring – unless he got $1m.. “Hell,” said Wayne, recycling Rio Bravo a third time, “he’s been retiring since the first day I met him.”
  63. Clint Eastwood, Two Mules For Sister Sara, 1970.   Director Budd Boetticher wrote it  – for Mitchum and Luis Buñuel’s Mexican find, Silvia Pinal. Or, Deborah Kerr… in memory of their finest hour, Heaven Knows, Mr Allison, 1956.  Same characters, a lonesome  hero and a nun. Only this time, the nun was a hooker in an old habit. And habits. Eventually played by Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine.  The script got sold to producer Martin Rackin (who had the effrontery to re-make Stagecoach in 1966) and, said Boetticher, “they messed it up.”  Bob and Deb, friends for life after he caught her swearing at John  Huston during Mr Allison,  made three other films together. 
  64. Jack Palance, Monte Walsh, 1970.    Howard Hawks was asked to film the Jack Schaeferend-of-the-Wild-West-era novelin 1969. Sure, if John Waynewould be the old cowpoke – and if they could secure a good partner for him, something they’d failed at for Hatari!  Someone like Mitchum or William Holden. They could not.
  65. Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, 1971.
  66. Gene Hackman, The French Connection, 1971.     “Me, a drug-busting cop!!!” Other suggestions for the NYPD cop ‘Popeye’ Doyle were: writer Jimmy Breslin, Charles Bronson, Jackie Geason, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Paul Newman, Rod Taylor… and, cheapest of all, the Fox Batman, Adam West, Holy moley!!!!
  67. James Coburn, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, 1972.
  68. Elliott Gould,The Long Goodbye, 1973.   Iconic director Howard Hawks quit the updating of Philip Marlowe with Mitchum. Peter Bogdanovich preferred Lee Marvin. Failing to entice Steve McQueen, director Robert Altman made it with Gould – his M*A*S*H star needed a comeback, after all. Said Gould: “I love Robert Mitchum and I love Lee Marvin. I couldn’t argue with them. But you’ve seen them and you haven’t seen me.” For the same producers, Mitchum Marlowed in the excellent Farewell, My Lovely, 1975, and a poor, London-set Big Sleep, 1978.
  69. Peter Boyle, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, 1973.    First chosen as the hit-man “which,” admitted producer Paul Monash, “shows you what foresight and cunning we had.” (Not really, Bob was interested only in a role to occupy three weeks). “He doesn’t play Eddie, a small-time loser at the end of his rope, as a groveling,uncourageous man. He imparts a quiet dignity… a genuine presence.”And he enjoyed it, telling the UK director Peter Yates: “Hot damn, dad, it’s great to get up  during’  the day  .I get to see some ladies with clothes on for a change.”
  70. Robert Shaw, Jaws, 1974.   

  71. John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974.    The idea was fair – a sequel  to True Grit.  But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Marlon Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch  list of Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of Duke’s old co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck. Plus four of co-star Katharine Hepburn’s previous partners  – Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn – and as she continued trying to pick guys she’d never  worked with before… Warren Beatty, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Paul Scofield, Henry Winkler (!)… (McQueen turned down her Grace Quigleyin 1983).   Kate wrote that embracing Duke “was like leaning against a great tree.”  This was director Stuart Miller’s second feature.  The  “6ft 6ins somafabitch no-talent, ” as  Duke termed him, never made a third.

  72. Peter O’Toole, Rosebud, 1974.
    Fired  – again! – after three weeks’ production.   That incident was all very sad,”  agreed  Bob.  “I regretted it later,   as I’m sure Otto [Preminger] did.I only agreed to do the picture because of him.I was one of the few who understood him. One day, the script had me looking beat-up and disheveled, so I arrived on the set unshaven.‘You are drunk,’roared Otto. How could I possibly be drunk at 5.30am? Ipointed to the instructionson the script, but he wouldn’tlisten.‘You are drunk and youare through!’ he shouted. So I turned and yelled: ‘Taxi!’ And that was that. Jumped in my car and fled. Preminger yelled after me: ‘I didn’t fire you – you quit’.”  O’Toole  arived in Corsica  48 hours later  looking, said the crew, at Death’s door. Mitchum’s comment?  “That’s like replacing Ray Charles with Helen Keller.”

  73. Robert Shaw, The Deep, 1976.   ‘”Our problem is all too obvious,” said producer Peter Guber’s diary. “No major actors or actresses have ever dived before… We began by milling over Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum and Sean Connery for the role of Romer Treece. But [director Peter] Yates and I thought Robert Shaw would perfect He appeared sensationally in the last [Robert] Benchley epic, Jaws.”  OK, said Shaw.  “I’ll do it! I don’t know why… it just has the right smell.” Just not at the box-office because  it was not as it was sold – Jaws 2. (Incidentally, Sir Sean  had dived  in Thunderball  on 1964).
  74. William Holden, Network, 1976.    Faye Dunaway, en route for her Oscar, campaigned for Bob but Sidney Lumet was deaf to her pleas. Rather strangely considering the respect Mitchum had from most other directors.

  75. Roy Scheider, Sorcerer, 1976.    After losing McQueen due to his self-confessed arrogance, director William Friedkin tried Mitchum.   He liked the script. But… “Why would I want to go to Ecuador for two or three months to fall out of a truck? I can do that outside my house.” Vintage Mitchum, said Billy, who had no answer.

  76. Henry Fonda, Midway, 1976.  

  77. Glenn Ford, Midway, 1976. 
    “The producer called me.  Would I play Admiral Nimitz?  I said:  How long?  ‘Ten weeks, five weeks in an aircraft carrier.’  Well, I’d just come back from Vietnam and three days in a carrier on the South China seas – not the most pleasant experience. I told him: I can’t manage that.” He called back:  ‘Would you play  Admiral Spruance?’  How  long?  “Five weeks, five days on an aircraft carrier in Pensicola, Florida.’ I thought, supposing by  some miracle we  had an early summer in California and I’d be stuck in Florida.  I told him: I can’t hack that. Couple days later, he asks if I’d play Admiral Halsey.  How long? ‘One day – in bed.’ You got it!”

  78. Richard Harris, The Wild Geese, 1978.    When Michael Winner was due to helm producer Euan Lloyd’s gaggle of Richard Burton, Richard Widmark and Roger Moore.
  79. Burt Lancaster, Atlantic City, 1980.     Paris auteur Louis Malle shortlisted Henry Fonda, James Mason, Laurence Olivier and James Stewart  but the dream was to work with Mitchum, “one of the great American actors.” Perfect! Theymet to discuss the old gangster role and Malle could see Bob had had a face-lift, making himtoo young for the aging numbers runner (“a cellmate of Bugsy Siegel”). Pity! He couldhave finally got hisOscar. But at 63, he told Malle: “I’m only playing 45 now.”
  80. Richard Harris, Tarzan The Ape Man, 1980.     No, when Bo Derek asked himto be her father in the heat of the Seychelles. Yes, when she was Woman of Desire in the heat of South Africa, 1993. “It looked,” scoffed Bob, “like a carpet commercial.”But he needed the money, trying to make up for some misappropriated millions.

  81. James Farentino, Evita Peron, 1980.   You do not mess with Mitchum.  Admittedly an unllkely choice for Argentine dictator Juan Peron, Mitchum got fed up of being ordered around by co-star Faye Dunaway – and walked off the movie!  Farentino looked a better fit
  82. Jack Nicholson, The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1980.      A truly perfecto idea… in 1972.   
  83. Kirk  Douglas, The Man From Snowy River, 1981.    Their rivalry entered a fourth decade as  Kirk beat Burt Lancaster  to the roles of the twins Harrison and Spur – rich rancher and wizened old  miner –  in the down-under Western based on an epic poem by Australia’s famous bush balladeer, Banjo Patterson.  Mitchum had earlier been considered… as if Aussie actors were incapable.

  84. Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981.     
    When he started trying to option Philip K Dick’s book in 1975, the first scenarist Hampton Fancher said he wrote Deckard for Mitchum. Made sense. Despite the age factor. “Mitchum still looked 50. A tough 50. Mitchum could wrestle with the best of them.” By 1979, though, Fancher saw Deckard as less of a hardboiled shamus than Dick’s bland bureaucrat. UK wiz Ridley Scott spent a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard. From top notchers Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman (keen… but on making it a totally different character, of course), Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino… to such excellent journeymen as William Devane, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Frederic Forrest, Scott Glenn, Cliff Gorman, Tommy Lee Jones, Raoiul Julia, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken. Then, in sheer desperation, choices lowered to Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch. Even the Virginian Morgan Paull stood a chance, having played Deckard in Scott’s tests of potential Rachaels. (He was given Holden for his pains). Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger, not yet seen as Conan, much less Terminator. And for probably the last time in such an illustrious list, the fading star of Burt Reynolds.

  85. Brian Dennehy,  First Blood (Rambo), 1981.
  86. Mickey Rourke, A Prayer for the Dying, 1986. Back in the 70s, Mitchum was to be the IRA terrorist from Jack Higgins’ book, with Edward Dmytryk directing. Mitchum fell out.  Marvin fell in.  Dmytryk and  Marvin fell out.. And the terrible movie (disowned by Rourke) fell on  its sword.  An almost obscene exploitation of the Northern Irish situation, said Chicago critic Rogr Ebert. “This is a plot worthy of Batman.
  87. Gene Hackman, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller (labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert) the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson tried all ages for the villain politico. From James Caan and Al Pacino at 46 to Gregory Peck at 70. Plus James Coburn, Sean Connery, James Cromwell, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Mitchum, Donald Moffat, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Jason Robards Donald Sutherland and Jon Voight.   Hackman was 56.
  88. Robert Stack, Falcon Crest, TV, 1987. Producer Aaron Spelling’s dream wish for the Mafia-esquehood, Roland Saunders – for a brief encounter, five episodes, romancing the lead harridan Jane Wyman… while trying to kill Kim Novak as a character with her once Columbia-suggested screen name: Kit Marlowe.

  89. Don Johnson, The Hot Spot, 1989.    
    Robert Mitchum was the matrix for drifter Harry Madox – and first choice in 1962. Nearly 30 years later, it was to be Mickey Rourke and Debra Winger. Or Gere, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Dennis Quaid, Tom Selleck, Sam Shepard, Patrick Swayze opposite Anne Archer, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Theresa Russell, Uma Thurman and ultimately, Virginia Madsen.  Just ot necessarily for this movie  Replacing UK director Mike Figgis,    Dennis Hopper totally changed the entire gig! In a 2014 AV Club interview, Johnson explained how three days before shooting began Dennis “called a meeting. ‘OK, we’re not making that script. We’re making this one.’And he passed a script around the table that had been written for Robert Mitchum in the ’60s… based on a book called Hell Hath No Fury… Wow! The Figgis script was really slick and cool, and it was a heist movie. But this was real noir. The guy was an amoral drifter, and it was all about how women were going to take him down… And that was the movie that we ended up making.” Hopper’s Last Tango In Texas was hailed by critic Roger Ebert as “a superior work in an old tradition.” He wuz right!

  90. Max von Sydow, Until The End of the World, 1991.      Heavy were the rumours that he would be William Hurt’s father in the globe-trotting movie.“You’regoing to work with Wim Wenders in Australia,” began one 1989 Deauville festival question. “Am I?” said Mitchum. Wisely, he wasn’t and didn’t.
  91. Richard Harris, The Field, 1991.    Before it landed with Irish fillum-maker Jim Sheridan, Ronan O’Leary tried to set it up by phoning Bob and expressing him a script.“You need someone older,” said Mitchum in a letter that tended to put the director off,  just a tad. It began: “Dear Miss O’Leary.”
  92. Clint Eastwood, Cry Macho, 2020.  
    Clint (“a national icon,” says Spielberg) delivered his usual producer-director-star magic.  And wrote one of the musical themes –  Time Lapse. Perfect title for the on-off history of N Richard Nash’s 70s’ script and novel (in that order) about Mike Milo, a damaged rodeo champ rescuing his former boss’estranged young son from Mexico. Yes, similar to A Night in Old Mexico, 2012, with Robert Duvall; and indeed to a more  gentle Japanese film I always felt Clint should have re-tooled, Takeshi Kitano’s   Kikujirô no natsu – with the worst  theme music in movie history.  (Nothing new.  A Fistful  of Dollarsderived  from the1960  Japanese Yojimbo).  Milo was a role made for Clint…. even if it was once aimed at Burt Lancaster, even Pierce Brosnan.   It took Clint and  co-producer Albert S Ruddy (The Godfather, no less!)  several decades  to finally make  it  – when they were both aged 91. Their struggle went thisaway…  1998: Ruddy first offered Milo to Eastwood. “I’m too young,” Not quite, Clint was 58, the novel’s Milo, 38.   He Dirty Harried in  Dead Pool instead but agreed to  direct Macho with, why not, Robert Mitchum. “But it went by the wayside.” 1991: Production actually began wih Roy Scheider and… stopped. 2003:  Arnold Schwarzenegger chose  Milo for his comeback after governating California, except the was re-elected until 2011. 2022: “I always thought I’d go back and look at that.,”: said Clint. “It was something I had to grow into.” To tune up the old script, he contacted Nick Schenk, scenarist of his Gran Torino and The Mule (and it shows!).  A happy Ruddy spoke for us all. “Clint  is the essence of the American hero, of all the things we think we all are, or would like to be.”









 Birth year: 1917Death year: 1997Other name: Casting Calls:  92