Thursday, April 3, 2008

Robert Mitchum and Ann Sothern - My Favorites

When I'm asked who are my favorite actor and actress of all time, I have a ready answer - Robert Mitchum and Ann Sothern.

Robert Mitchum first came to my attention when I saw "Cape Fear" (1962). His 'Max Cady' character was played to perfection - a man bent on revenge against the lawyer who was responsible for having him convicted and sentenced to several years in prison. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it.

After this, I wanted to see other movies featuring Mitchum. Over the past several years, I've seen and enjoyed, in no particular order, "The Night of the Hunter" (1955), "The Sundowners" (1960), "Out of the Past" (1947), "Holiday Affair" (1947), "Not as a Stranger" (1955), and many others. Even the B-Westerns he made had something to enjoy in his character portrayals.

In 1980, I sent him a portrait photo, to his home in Santa Barbara, California, and he promptly returned it, signed to me.

The best Mitchum biography I've read is Robert Mitchum: "Baby, I Don't Care" by Lee Server.
I was "introduced" to Ann Sothern's acting rather late, in the 1980s, when I acquired a few videos of her 1940s 'Maisie' features. Since then, I've sought out as many of her movies as are available. I've seen all of the 'Maisie' movies, and recommend all ten of them, as well as anything else in which she appears.

She could play any type of role, whether comedy, drama, or suspense. Some of the features which highlight her talent are "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949), "Cry Havoc" (1943), and "Brother Orchid" (1940). Her final feature was 1987's "The Whales of August", and while the other stars were also veterans (Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, and Vincent Price), I think Ms. Sothern's performance is the stand-out.

In 1990, I sent a photo to Ms. Sothern, to her home in Ketcham, Idaho, but never had a reply. I'd heard varying reports about her health, so decided not to pursue the matter. I later learned that she was very responsive to fans' requests for autographs, and could only assume that my photo may have been lost in the mail either to her or on its return to me.

A few years ago, I bought this little signed photo of Ms. Sothern, and a friend sent me the signed index card shortly after her death, when I told him of my disappointment in not having anything from her - he had a few cards he got directly from her several years earlier.

There has been one well-written biography of Ann Sothern, researched by someone who got to know her personally during the later years of her life - Cordially Yours, Ann Sothern by Colin Briggs.


Ben O. said...

I just watched 4 episodes of Ann's 1958-1961 series "The Ann Sothern Show" this weekend while recording them from VHS to DVD. I wish more of her work was available, I enjoyed the shows a lot. (One had Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo.) I've never seen Private Secretary but would love to search out some of those episodes. I also like the episodes of The Lucy Show where Ann plays the Countess.

Bill Cappello said...

"Private Secretary" is a very good show, and if you can find some, I'm sure you'll enjoy them.

Todd Carver said...

Dear Mr. Cappello,

Here is video of Ann Sothern on "I've Got a Secret" in 1962. In it, she whispers dirty words in Harry Morgan's ear:

Ann Sothern on I've Got a Secret 1962