Out of the Past: The Films of Robert Mitchum

The Lusty Men

Nicholas RayUSA112 minutes1952PGB&WEnglish

Feb 25
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    In this, "one of Nicholas Ray's most beautiful and underrated films" (Tony Pipolo, Artforum), Robert Mitchum gives a magnificent performance as an aging bronco buster who hitches up with an ambitious young rodeo rider (Arthur Kennedy) and his dissatisfied wife (Susan Hayward, never finer) in a last-ditch attempt to find a place for himself in the world. Though the original posters for the film proclaimed, "Make a buck, spend it fast. Meet a dame, kiss her quick!" the film's title and pulpy promotion belie its true nature as a kind of forlorn country ballad; as James Harvey writes, The Lusty Men is "probably the most simply beautiful of all [Ray's] movies. The feelings of loss and loneliness, of displacement and yearning, seem as pure and glowing as Lee Garmes' remarkable black-and-white photography."