I admit it. Today’s clerihew is just an excuse to circulate a drawing I did the other day of the actor Robert Mitchum (based on an original photo by Terry O’Neill).
Wikipedia has quite a bit to say about these two actors — in essence that Wayne was born to play the all-American hero, and that Mitchum was quite glad to take on the role of anti-hero in film AND in life. Mitchum’s life is dotted with episodes of school expulsions, minor legal infractions, and a life-long deprecation of his own talents and achievements.
Michael Parkinson has said that his interview with Robert Mitchum was one of his hardest interviews ever — the actor answered almost all of Parkinson’s carefully prepared questions with either ‘Nope’ or ‘Yup’.
John Wayne and Robert Mitchum appeared together in only a few films. Of those, the western El Dorado is significant to historians of science fiction because its script was co-written by SF writer Leigh Brackett. Brackett also co-wrote the scripts for the Bogart classic The Big Sleep, the second Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back, and the western Rio Bravo.
Rio Bravo and El Dorado share the peculiar distinction of not only having the same scriptwriter (Brackett) but —almost — the same script. And so to the clerihew. Maybe Leigh Brackett once said this to an aspiring scriptwriter …
Care of the IMDB Web site, let’s close with two quotes from Robert Mitchum:
“[on his acting talents] Listen. I got three expressions: looking left, looking right and looking straight ahead.”
“Years ago, I saved up a million dollars from acting, a lot of money in those days, and I spent it all on a horse farm in Tucson. Now when I go down there, I look at that place and I realize my whole acting career adds up to a million dollars worth of horse shit.”