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The Lusty Men (1952)

December 17th, 2008 by Anne Richardson · 2 Comments · 1950's, Oregon film, Oregon film old definition, Westerns

Actors search for rejection. If they don’t get it, they reject themselves. Charlie Chaplin
We’re actors. We’re the opposite of people. Tom Stoppard, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Among the extra features included on the Criterion Collection’s DVD of My Own Private Idaho is a wonderful, very long interview of director Gus Van Sant by director Todd Haynes. Gus Van Sant credits his actors with writing several scenes in the film, including the campfire scene in which Mike, the character played by River Phoenix, declares his love for Scott, the character played by Keanu Reeves. According to Van Sant, River Phoenix, a veteran of confessional campfire scenes (Stand By Me, Running On Empty), not only re-wrote the scene but also arranged when it would be shot, how it would be shot, and rehearsed it himself, with Keanu.

Which is by way of saying I was equally astonished to read in this Bright Lights essay about Robert Mitchum that Nicholas Ray credits Mitchum with writing scenes in The Lusty Men.

I don’t understand actors. What little I do understand about them tells me that maybe for both River Phoenix and Robert Mitchum these stories of wounded, transient men looking for a home may have been parables of the inner life of an actor, waiting by the phone, not really alive until he/she is in company with other players.

I am amazed to learn that Mitchum’s contribution to The Lusty Men included writing scenes.

Both My Own Private Idaho and The Lusty Men contain scenes shot in Eastern Oregon: Wasco County and Umatilla County, respectively.

I hereby  claim The Lusty Men as an Oregon film on the basis of its location shooting.

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