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Dead Man

Year: 1995
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast:
Johnny Depp ... William Blake
Gary Farmer ... Nobody
Lance Henriksen ... Cole Wilson
Michael Wincott ... Conway Twill
Mili Avital ... Thel Russell
Iggy Pop ... Salvatore 'Sally' Jenko
Crispin Glover ... Train Fireman
Gabriel Byrne ... Charles Dickinson
Alfred Molina ... Trading Post Missionary
Robert Mitchum ... John Dickinson

Plot Synopsis: In the old West, Cleveland accountant William Blake (Johnny Depp) goes on an odd spiritual journey, which includes encounters with characters like tycoon John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum).

Mitchum's Entrance: About 20 minutes in, Depp (wearing a horrible plaid suit) wanders into Mitchum's office to ask about a job. Mitchum points a shotgun at him and barks, "Who the hell are you and where did you get the clown suit? Cleveland?" When Depp mentions he thought he had a job with him, Mitchum responds, "The only job you're going to get around here is pushing up daisies in a pine box!"

Verdict: An unusual and slowly paced art-house Western with the biggest draw perhaps being Robby Muller's gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and the always gorgeous Depp. This was Mitchum's last feature film. He plays a tycoon with a stuffed bear and self-portrait in his office. (Wonder what happened to that prop?)

Behind the Scenes:

  • On a recent showing on the IFC channel, it was revealed that director Jim Jarmusch sweated a bit about telling the Hollywood legend he had to deliver a speech to a stuffed grizzly bear. He expected fireworks when he gave Mitchum his instructions, but instead the actor merely said, "Fine. Let's shoot."

  • In a 2005 interview with Roger Ebert, Jim Jarmusch recalled working with Mitchum on the film. "I have never felt intimidated working with actors ever," he said, "but Mitchum is such an icon. And he does not improvise. One day I wanted him to switch two lines around. 'Change?' he says. 'What do you mean change?' I told him I was sorry. 'Sorry. That's what they said to Gary Gilmore,' he says. But finally, 'all right, all right,' he agrees to it.

    "He carried a big shotgun in the movie. I got all of these classic antique shotguns and took them up to his house in Santa Barbara, laid them out on the floor on towels, and told him to pick the one he wanted. He looked them over and said, 'Which one is the lightest?'"

  • Depp's character, William Blake, is based on the British poet-artist of the same, a plus for literature buffs. Fans of the Doors will also recognize some of the quoted poetry as a source for many Jim Morrison songs. See more on the Depp-Mitchum connection.

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