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Robert Mitchum in Supporting Roles: 4 Times the Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor

By    |   Thursday, 09 Apr 2015 06:45 PM

Robert Mitchum's storied career, including his many supporting roles, was built on his trademark coolness. A year after his passing, Entertainment Weekly ranked Mitchum as the 61st greatest movie star of all time.

Here are four times Mitchum shined without being the lead actor.

1. Lt. Bill Walker, "The Story of G.I. Joe" (1945)

Mitchum received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for this role. This was his first and only recognition from the Academy. Mitchum's career began taking shape after the film, landing him several different films in different genres.

Prior to "The Story of G.I. Joe," Mitchum was perceived to be a "beefcake actor" without much depth, according to The New York Times.

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Mitchum was eventually considered one of Hollywood's most respected stars, although early in his career he was ignored by critics.

2. Brig. Gen. Norman Cota, "The Longest Day" (1962)

In 1962 Mitchum starred alongside John Wayne and Harry Fonda in the film "The Longest Day" — a depiction of the Allied D-Day invasion. Turner Class Movies called Mitchum one the film's stars, in which he performed among many Hollywood greats.

"It's difficult to pinpoint the real 'star' of 'The Longest Day,' but Robert Mitchum would have to rank high on the list. As Gen. Norman Cota, the Allied commander of the 29th Infantry Division, he somehow manages to convey the gravity of the situation without coming across like a movie star wearing an Army suit," wrote Paul Tatara of TCM.

3. Sheriff J.P. Harrah, "El Dorado" (1966)

Mitchum played alongside John Wayne once again for the film "El Dorado" in 1966.

"El Dorado is a tightly directed, humorous, altogether successful Western, turned out almost effortlessly, it would seem, by three old pros: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and director Howard Hawks. You could call it, of course a 'John Wayne Western.' I guess that means it has the Duke in the saddle once again, drawl and all, making his laconic comments on the state of the universe and marching through old Western clichés. But "El Dorado" is more than that. It is a very good John Wayne Western," wrote film critic Roger Ebert in his review in 1967.

According to Mitchum biographer Lee Server, director and screenwriter Burt Kennedy recalled that Mitchum was quite self-effacing about his role in "El Dorado, stating "On that one I played John Wayne's leading lady."

4. Max Cady, "Cape Fear" (1962)

In 1962, Mitchum hit the big screen with Gregory Peck, Polly Bergen, and Martin Balsam in the film "Cape Fear." Mitchum portrayed the villain/antagonist in the thriller.

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised him for his work in a review noting, "Mr. Mitchum plays the villain with the cheekiest, wickedest arrogance, and the most relentless aura of sadism that he has ever managed to generate."

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Robert Mitchum's storied career, including his many supporting roles, was built on his trademark coolness. A year after his passing, Entertainment Weekly ranked Mitchum as the 61st greatest movie star of all time. Here are four times Mitchum shined without being the lead actor.
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