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Mitchum: Mr. Bad Taste And Trouble Himself

The latest Stacks reprint over at The Daily Beast gives Robert Ward's 1983 Rolling Stone profile of Robert Mitchum:

At the height of his earning power he was making over three thousand dollars a week. But with agents' fees, taxes, the Life of a Hollywood Star and a family to feed, Mitchum didn't save a lot of the dough.

"Look, I'm not complaining," he says, over a drink at the Waldorf bar. "I got a great life out of the movies. I've been all over the world and met the most fantastic people. I don't really deserve all that I have gotten. It's a privileged life, and I know it. I didn't make what these young guys, the Spielbergs, are making. But I had a hell of a lot of fun. Working with all the great leading ladies of my day. Marilyn Monroe, and Jane Greer. I think she was the most underrated of them all. Working with guys like John Huston and Raoul Walsh.

"Hell, the first time I came on the set with Raoul, we did seventeen pages of dialogue in one day. He used to set up and roll cigarettes with his right hand, the side that had the eye patch. Because he couldn't see them, all the tobacco fell out, and he would immediately roll another one, take a puff or two and wonder how he'd smoked the damned thing so quickly. When he had us all ready, he used to turn his back to the shot and let the cameraman tell him when it was done. The thing was, he trusted us. He wouldn't have made the picture at all if he didn't."

It's the element of spontaneity and camaraderie that Mitchum finds missing in today's shooting.

"I know production values are better, sure, but are the scripts, are the pictures? I was on a set with De Niro, The Last Tycoon, and he takes forty minutes to get ready for a scene in his trailer. Ray Milland was in the movie, and he gets all upset. He asks Gage Kazan how come we didn't get that much time, and Kazan says, 'Hey, look, you guys don't need time like that. Come on, just say your lines, I got enough problems with him.' The thing is, it's a hell of a lot more work, and I don't see overall where the films are any better, really. You tell me."

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