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Drama Movies

May 8 2016 Drama Movies Newsletter

"There are a large number of players who don't know how to listen. While one of their partners speaks to them, they simply think, I don't have anything to do during this; let's try not to let the scene get stolen from me. Mitchum can be silent and listen to a five-minute speech. You'll never lose sight of him and you'll understand that he takes in what is said to him, even if he doesn't do anything. That's how one judges good actors." "Out of the Past" director Jacques Tourneur

I would add to Tourneur's assessment of Robert Mitchum that he can also say more with a single look than almost any other screen actor. There are several scenes in "The Wonderful Country" between Mitchum and co-star Julie London that demonstrate this. Rather than say goodbye when he leaves her, Mitchum gives her a long look that requires no explanation.

The movie was produced independently in 1959 by Mitchum's company, DRM. The overall tone of the story, adapted from Tom Lea's novel, is surprisingly fatalistic. As Helen, Julie London's character says about her life, "You just try to accept what comes." Mitchum cast several of his friends, Anthony Caruso and Charles McGraw, in supporting roles (both men had appeared in Mitchum's RKO film noirs). The venal German shopkeeper is played by John Banner, whom you may know better as Sgt. Schultz from television's "Hogan's Heroes". Banner is almost unrecognizable, his character is so savvy and cunning. It took me a few minutes to realize it was the same man.

"The Wonderful Country" occupies the space in between the break-up of the studio system and the development of blockbuster, corporate filmmaking. The reluctance of the present studio owners to take any risks is reflected in the continuing number of remakes being produced. Universal has announced it will revive some of its horror films from the 1930s. A remake of Boris Karloff's "The Mummy" is in the works, starring Tom Cruise(!) and Russell Crowe. "The Invisible Man", starring Johnny Depp, is also on the studio's slate. In addition, Bruce Willis plans to star in a new version of the Charles Bronson franchise, "Death Wish". Features based on the television shows "Baywatch" and "CHiPs" are also in production. This is not good news for those of us who value adult dramas.

On the positive side, the Cannes Film Festival begins on Wednesday. There are plenty of deals being made prior to the festival's opening night, including the production of a new film starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. "Escobar" is based on the true story of a television journalist's unlikely affair with the drug kingpin. Look for more festival updates in next week's newsletter.

Here's the latest article from the Drama Movies site at BellaOnline.com.

The Wonderful Country Film Review
A Western that has resonance for contemporary audiences, "The Wonderful Country" stars Robert Mitchum as a gunman searching for his identity. Living in exile in Mexico, he must decide whether to remain south of the border or cross to the other side. Julie London co-stars.


Please visit dramamovies.bellaonline.com for even more great content about Drama Movies.

Angela K. Peterson, Drama Movies Editor

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