Mitchum on Writing and Directing

Graham Fuller: Did you ever have the urge to direct a movie yourself?

Robert Mitchum: No. I’ve never had the urge to be an analyst or a stunt pilot either. (a) You have to get there in the morning before the actors do; (b) you have to stay there until they’re gone; (c) you have to wrangle with the producer and the front office; (d) you have to sit in a darkened room and watch the film frame by frame by frame. You can hire an albino to do that.

GF: Did people ever approach you to direct?

RM: Yeah.

GF: You just didn’t fancy it?

RM: No.

GF: But you wrote scenes in the movie occasionally. I’m thinking particularly of Macao [1952], the Josef von Sternberg movie that Nicholas Ray took over.

RM: I was pretty well compromised, wasn’t I? I walked in there and Nick and Jane [Russell] handed me a pad of paper and some pencils. That was it. I went to the dressing room and I wrote in the morning, and then we had it typed up and we shot it in the afternoon.

GF: Did you ever want to have a career as a writer?

RM: I wrote special material for night-club performers and I had worked as a junior writer at Warner Bros. Writing is a very lonely proposition. Every time I submit something, I would hand it in and run because I didn’t want to be around when the criticism came.


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