Archive for Dean Jagger


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2008 by dcairns

By any normal standards, one would say Robert Mitchum is kind of funny-looking. But also astonishingly beautiful, at least sometimes.

Suck it in, Mitch!

What, can’t one man admire another’s ruggedly chiselled physiognomy?

That shot in OUT OF THE PAST when he straightens up after fighting his ex-partner in a darkened room, and Jane Greer has just fired her gun… that’s another of those Mitchum shots that takes my breath away.

This one, however, is from PURSUED, a wildly Freudian western written by Niven Busch, directed by Raoul Walsh, and photographed by James Wong Howe. I say “Freudian” because the plot, MARNIE-style, turns on Mitchum’s need to recover a repressed childhood memory. I loved this right up to the finish, which seemed contrived and unconvincing. One character gets to shoot another, who was posing no immediate threat, and yet nobody suggests that a crime has been committed. I know it was the bad guy who gets shot, and nothing says “the story’s finished” better than killing the bad guy, but it seemed… unnecessarily generic. And not explicable in realistic terms, since earlier in the movie the hero is tried after killing a man in self-defense. How come nobody’s bothered this time?

I’m not usually among what Hitchcock dismissively called the plausibilists, but when a film violates its own inner logic it does bug me a little.

I have never forgiven them for my arm.

Still, 90% of the film is great, noirish, unconventional and imaginative, and with a rather strong villain played by Dean Jagger, a man so determined to wipe out his enemies, he sacrifices his own arm rather than give up the hunt. I admired his cussedness.