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Robert Mitchum: Roles He Missed That Other Actors Made Famous

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Dec 2015 08:54 PM

The rugged actor Robert Mitchum appeared in more than 100 movies. He was in war films, Westerns and film noir as a hero and a homicidal killer.

“I think when producers have a part that’s hard to cast, they say, ‘Send for Mitchum; he’ll do anything,’” his New York Times obituary said Mitchum once remarked. “I don’t care what I play. I’ll play Polish gays, women, midgets, anything.”

Well, maybe not anything. There were some roles that got away. Some roles Mitchum missed made other actors famous, but he might not have minded. “For a while, it looked like I was going to be stuck in Westerns,” he told an interviewer in 1948, the Times said. “I figured out I could make six a year for 60 years and then retire. I decided I didn’t want it. So I started blinking my eyes every time a gun went off in the scenes. That got me out of Westerns.”

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Here are a couple more roles he got out of.

The Lead in “Patton”
Mitchum turned down the lead role of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in this 1970 movie. During a Turner Classic Movies interview with Robert Osborne, Mitchum said he knew the movie could be a great one because of the script, but that the studio would want to concentrate on battles and tanks moving around on screen rather than on the character of Patton. Mitchum said the film needed an actor passionate about focusing on Patton. He recommended George C. Scott, who got the part.

The Lead in “Dirty Harry”
A year later, Mitchum turned down the lead in another role, Dirty Harry, which ended up going to Clint Eastwood. Mitchum had no qualms about missing out. “There are movies I won’t do for any amount,” his biography on Meredy quotes him as saying. “I turned down ‘Patton’ (1970) and I turned down ‘Dirty Harry’ (1971). Movies that piss on the world. If I've got five bucks in my pocket, I don't need to make money that (expletive) way, daddy.”

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Mitchum didn’t let the roles that got away bother him. “When you’re successful in the movies,” he remarked in 1970, as retold in his New York Times obituary in 1997, “Hollywood doesn’t let you do better. They just let you do more.”

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The rugged actor Robert Mitchum appeared in more than 100 movies. He was in war films, Westerns and film noir as a hero and a homicidal killer. There were some roles that got away.
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