I can be shallow, and I think a great number of my posts is a testament to this. I only wish though, I could put it to some good like ReelzChannel as they present Famous Topless Thespians, From Clark Gable to Matthew McConaughey. The list is limited, and far too much post Lancaster shirtlessness. Still, they supply pictures and such enlightening analysis as the Real reason for shirtlessness (my favourite is for It Happened One Night, Real reason for shirtlessness: Claudette Colbert not allowed to take off her shirt.)
Back to Mitchum, outside of perhaps His Kind of Woman, more often than not he intimidated the presence of his female co-stars. Filmmakers took advantage of this and eventually played him more and more in the villainous roles. His best performance was probably in The Night of the Hunter (he is not shirtless in this film), which integrates this sexual presence in a strange way. In a very telling scene, his new wife (Shelley Winters) enters his room on their wedding night. In one of the earliest scenes in the film, he enters a burlesque club. There is no clear sense of arousal except the use of his switchblade as a non-so-subtle sexual metaphor, however this is contrasted with his desire to rid the world of women. His character uses women to gain wealth, he has an incredible disdain for women, especially their sexuality. His interest in sex is linked forever in violence, however outside a few scenes this isn’t quite played out. The human aspect of Mitchum in this film is only notable in the first half, in the second half he becomes little more than a biblical horror monster.
Right, shirtless Mitchum. I can’t get off track! On this trend, we come to Cape Fear. Less subtle than the sexual frustration exhibited in The Night of the Hunter, Mitchum actually is a sexual predator in this one. It’s an unsettling film, sometimes for all the wrong reasons. In a time when the word rape can’t be used because of remaining censorship laws, a few scenes are awkward… however it almost works to increase the uncomfortable energy. Of course Mitchum is shirtless in this film, and in more than one scene! His intimidating shirtless sexuality is used in a very literal way, but hey it works.
I think I’ve tried way too hard to justify talking about Mitchum’s chest by intellectualizing, I apologize for that. That’s why so many pictures. This one doesn’t feature Mitchum shirtless, but he is in the picture. I found it on my internetting, I thought I’d share.