Monday, June 27, 2011

The 'Perfect' Tough Guy

Okay, I'll admit it old girl. I'm a push over. A push over for the old black and white movies of the 30's and 40's.  Especially if the movie is one of the old noir classics.
I'm an even bigger fan to some of the males who acted in these oldies.  Take Robert Mitchum in 'Out of the Past.'  There hasn't been a better big, tough looking, truly dominant male lead since Mitchum, in my opinion.  Nope, not one.  Mitchum had this dry sense of sarcastic humor, this aura of rock hard endurance, this unmistakably broadcast of sheer animal power no other actor since has ever been able to replicate in cinema.  And there has been some damn good actors come along since his time.

In 'Out of the Past'  you see Mitchum at his best.  Smart, savvy in the ways of the wicked; accepting his fate with a defiant shrug.  He knows he's doomed and yet walks straight into ever situation with power and an rough male arrogance only a handful of actors could attempt to mimic.  The guy just radiates a sense of raw energy the camera can't help but illuminate.

And if you want to see what a really really bad guy should act, get a load of Kirk Douglas in this movie.  Suave, sophisticated, elegant; but look at the way he grins.  Look at the eyes.  Listen to the way he talks.  Bad is bad, cupcake.  And Douglas is one bad dude in this flick.

But take a real gander at Jane Greer.  Oh, my god!  When she makes her first appearance in the movie by walking through the front door of a Mexican cantina--two things happen to you.  First, you just KNOW she's bad news.   Secondly, you decide it doesn't matter.  You've just fallen in love.  And you'd be right.  She is bad news--and there isn't a male in the picture who isn't affected by her.  In a very bad sense of the word.

But back to Robert Mitchum.  I think he makes the perfect tough guy image a writer who delves into hardboiled/noir should use as a template.  I may be all wrong.  But for me, there's Mitchum;  and then there's all the also-runs coming up a distant second.

If you can find a copy of this flick, you owe it to yourself to see it.  I'm telling ya' ya won't be disappointed.


  1. Absorbing read... and I fully agree... today's lead actors don't hold a candle to Mitchum.... a match perhaps....

  2. You're not wrong: Mitchum was an icon.