Mitchum, Robert: Signature Collection (DVD)

Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection (January 2007) contains six movies, not necessarily his best: “Angel Face,” “Macao,” “The Sundowners,” “Home from the Hill,” “The Yakuza.” Jointly, they give a glimpse of what was special about his as an actor and movie star.

One of the coolest actors around, Mitchum combined sleepy looks, steely eyes, laid back manner, and naural masculinity, all attributes that made him a great screen actor but underestimated for his acting chops.

In his commentary, film-noir specialist Eddie Muller, who offers insights on “Angel Face” and “Macao (both made in 1952) calls Mitchum, “the original hepcat.” Mitchum had a “face marinated by life,” says director Sydney Pollack in a commentary on his movie “The Yakuza” (1975).

Otto Preminger’s “Angel Face” is a Los Angeles film noir that showcased Mitchum’s marinated hepness to perfection. Its tale of a tough but honorable guy brought low by a devious femme fatale (Jean Simmons) is a melodrama heightened by Mitchum’s ability to be a smart and cool individualist and a sucker, all at once.

In “Macao,” a semi-intriguing adventure, Mitchum is paired with another lusty woman, Jane Russell, and together they transcend the inance script.

In Zinnemann’s “The Sundowners” (1960), Mitchum essays an Australian accent as a homesteader. The film, which features Deborah Kerr as Mitchum’s wife, was nominated for the Best Picture Oscars and other awards.

Mitchum is far more impressive in films that are not in the Collection: “Out of the Past” (1947), “Crossfire” (1947), and especially “The Night of the Hunter” (1955) and “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” (1973).

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