Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Promises to Keep (1985)


Three Mitchums for the price of one! That's right. You get not one, not two but THREE Mitchums! And three generations at that.

Promises to Keep is a TV movie from 1985 starring Robert Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum and Bentley Mitchum. I usually don't review films from the 1980s or any TV movies but this one was too good to pass up. Not only did it star my favorite actor but also featured his son and his grandson to boot!




Isn't Bentley's feathered '80s hair magnificent?!

Johnny (Bentley Mitchum) is 18 years old and is the narrator of the movie. His father Tom Palmer is the Captain of the fishing boat the Genoa. Tom is in trouble. The Genoa has been having engine problems and he and the other fishermen on board haven't been able to catch enough fish to turn a profit. And they are in competition with some other fisherman in Santa Barbara. Johnny is learning the trade with his Dad but yearns for freedom.

Tom's father  Jack Palmer (Robert Mitchum) is very ill. He will die unless he receives treatment very soon. He puts off treatment for a week to be able to travel from Wyoming to Santa Barbara, California to make amends wife and son he abandoned 30 years ago. He is reunited with his ex-wife Sally (Claire Bloom) and with his son Tom but Tom wants nothing to do with him. And Tom is under a lot of pressure. He is trying to get a new engine for his boat but can't afford it. His wife Gwen (Tess Harper) is putting their home up for sale. His son Johnny is both rebelling against his father and bonding with the grandfather he has never met. At a critical point, all three Palmers/Mitchums must come together to overcome the adversity in their lives. For Jack it's his illness and his regrets, for Tom it's his business and relationship with his father and son and for Johnny it's his yearning for freedom but the father and girlfriend who are holding him back.

Promises to Keep is a made-for-TV movie with a somewhat typical melodramatic plot and a sentimental score. What makes it stand apart are the three real life generations of actors, Mitchums at that, who also play three generations on screen. What sold this to me was the novelty of having three Mitchums in one movie. The story is quite good and I was engrossed the entire time. I hate to include spoilers but there is a moment at the end that makes the whole movie very satisfying. All three Palmers/Mitchums get together for what I call a "Mitchum Showdown".


Not the best screen shot of the Mitchum Showdown but the best I could do!

Promises to Keep is Bentley Mitchum's screen debut. It also features Jane Sibbett who fans of the show Friends will recognize as the second actress to play Ross Geller's ex-wife. Jane plays Libby, Johnny's girlfriend. It's really nice to watch Robert, Christopher and Bentley Mitchum work together. Fans of Robert Mitchum will enjoy seeing actual photographs and some home video footage of a younger Robert with his young son Christopher. Christopher's brother James Mitchum played a supporting role in Thunder Road (1958). Robert Mitchum did 3 movies with James and 4 with Christopher. He only did this one movie with Bentley but Bentley also appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit with Robert Mitchum in 1987. (Note - All of that data I got from IMDB, if any of it is incorrect let me know!).

I highly recommend Promises to Keep (1985) to the die-hard Robert Mitchum fan who would appreciate the novelty of the three Mitchum dynamic!


Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received Promises to Keep (1985) from Warner Archive for review.

2 comments:

  1. How cool! I'd like to see this. I used to have a crush on Chris Mitchum when I was a kid and used to watch him in Rio Lobo and Big Jake all the time. I will keep my eye out for this.

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