Book Review – Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care by Lee Server

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Baby I Don’t Care is a biography of the legendary Hollywood actor Robert Mitchum. He lived an interesting life. For a time in his youth he was a homeless drifter and he stumbled into Hollywood success. From a bum with nothing to a cult figure with millions of dollars in the bank, this book chronicles his life.

I’ve been aware of Mitchum but I was never a huge fan. Still, I enjoy biographies of classic stars and this had good reviews. It’s certainly good value for money and it’s almost 700 pages long and Server’s writing style is easy to read. Everything is well-documented and there are lots of interviews with people from Mitchum’s life. It also doesn’t lend itself to gossip. There was certainly enough material for that here, as by the author’s admission Mitchum enjoying a healthy sexual appetite even though he was married for almost his entire adult life. Indeed, it’s interesting how adultery is often excused when it comes to celebrities, as though it’s almost an expected part of the lifestyle. But I appreciated that the book wasn’t simply a casebook of his sexual adventures.

Mitchum was a complicated figure who didn’t seem to care about anything much. Almost all the interviews mention that he was laid back, and although it’s good that there are so many, the sheer volume of them does mean that it’s repetitive as the same sentiment is regurgitated over and over again. But the book is hugely informative and not just for fans of Mitchum, but for fans of the classic age of Hollywood in general. There’s a wealth of material about the eccentricities of Howard Hughes as well as other notable figures that Mitchum encountered. He worked up until his death in the early 90s as well, so the book touches on some of the changes that happened as the decades faded into the past.

Again though, this information does have its downside because sometimes it feels almost as though Mitchum is absent from his own biography. It’s an engaging read though and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s definitely up there with the best of biographies and I imagine bona fide fans of Mitchum would get more of it than I. I still enjoyed it though, and it does make me want to check out more of his films.

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