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Robert Mitchum is one of my favorite movie actors. He was active during the 1940s to the 1960s. Playing both heroes and heavies, his sleepy-eyed, detached cynicism was the epidemy of 1950s cool. The tagline from the above poster, "the toughest private eye who ever wore a trench coat, slapped a dame and split his knuckles on a jawbone" nicely sum up his early film noir roles.
His career started taking off in the 1950s, which was a difficult time for the movie industry. The old studio system was starting to come apart, with the studios losing the vertically integrated monopoly over theater chains which impacted their revenue and complicated distribution. Also, television was gaining greatly in popularity and that cut into how people were allocating their discretionary entertainment dollars.
Mitchum started in the stable of RKO, one of minor studios. At the time RKO was ran by the increasingly eccentric Howard Hughs, which led to a fair degree of dysfunction at the studio. Mitchum also had an early scandal when he was arrested, and briefly jailed, for marijuana possession in 1948. However, due to his image as a rebel and an outsider the arrest did not hurt his image.
These images, and those after the jump, are taken from 100 Years of Movie Posters. There are more at that link.