Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series celebrate the centennial of Hollywood icon Robert Mitchum (b. August 6, 1917) with two of his best roles, OUT OF THE PAST (1947, 70th anniversary) and CAPE FEAR (1962, 55th anniversary). The two acclaimed film noirs will be shown as a double feature on August 1 as part of the popular Twofer Tuesday (two for the price of one) program at a choice of three locations: the Ahrya Fine Arts, NoHo 7, and Pasadena Playhouse 7. Presented on blu-ray.
Mitchum was a contract player at RKO when he starred in Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourneur with a script by Geoffrey Homes (Daniel Mainwaring), adapting his novel, “Build My Gallows High.” Mitchum plays an ex-private eye entangled in a web of double-dealings by former criminal associates (gangster Kirk Douglas and old flame Jane Greer). Mitchum, described in the New York Times review of the day as “magnificently cheeky and self-assured,” entrenched his cynical, antihero image in this film.
Out of the Past, as author Jeremy Arnold notes in TCM’s The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter, “is the quintessential film noir. It has a tough hero, a supremely alluring femme fatale, hard-boiled dialogue, a commingling of sex and violence, expressionistic lighting…all set in an ominous world where death and double-cross are the norm.” The movie has been added to the National Film Registry.
Cape Fear came at the end of the classical black-and-white film noir period (1942-62), and stars Mitchum in his most memorable villainous role, Max Cady. In this adaptation by James R. Webb of James D. MacDonald’s novel, “The Executioners,” an ex-con plots insidious revenge on the lawyer (Gregory Peck) whose testimony sent him to prison. Director J. Lee Thompson was an admirer of Alfred Hitchcock, and paid homage to the Master of Suspense with camera angles and the use of his frequent collaborator, composer Bernard Herrmann, who provided a superbly menacing score. Mitchum was so convincing in the role that co-star Polly Bergen (as Peck’s wife) said she was genuinely frightened in an improvised scene with him. Leonard Maltin calls Mitchum’s performance “believably creepy,” and the American Film Institute cited his portrayal of Cady as one of the top 30 “All-Time Screen Villains.” Martin Balsam, Lori Martin, Telly Savalas, and Barrie Chase co-star.
Barrie Chase had other memorable roles in films of the 1960s, including Stanley Kramer’s It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Robert Aldrich’s The Flight of the Phoenix. She was a dancer in many hit musical films of the 1950s and co-starred with Fred Astaire in several of his top-rated TV specials.
Actress Barrie Chase will introduce the 7:15 CAPE FEAR at the Ahrya Fine Arts. Film historian Jeremy Arnold will introduce the 9:30 OUT OF THE PAST, only at the Ahrya Fine Arts in Beverly Hills.
Out of the Past screens at 5:15 & 9:30; Cape Fear screens at 7:15, at all three locations.