Robert Mitchum did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Capt. Wade Hunnicutt in Home From the Hill.
Robert Mitchum plays the central figure that all the other characters revolve around in this film but he is not the lead. His lack of screentime and perspective make him a supporting character, though the story could not exist without Captain Wade Hunnicutt. The reason being everyone in his home, and the town around seems affected by the man in some way, usually in the negative sense. This is made clear in the film's opening scene where the Captain is shot by a man for having an affair with his wife. The Captain scoffs off both the man and the wound as though it happens all the time. The film builds up the character, mostly through exposition of both just how great the man is at first, then soon followed by how terrible he is. They make him into as though he is some sort of living legend and it is easy to see how this character would've wholly fallen flat with the wrong actor in the role. Luckily they cast Robert Mitchum.
Robert Mitchum is perfect for the part and he absolutely knows it through his ease onscreen throughout the film. Mitchum makes the reputation of the character earned since he seems rather larger than life himself. Mitchum just exudes the confidence of Hunnicutt as he should, as he suggests a man who has always gotten what has wanted but also always has taken what he has wanted. Mitchum though is able to do something essential for the part which is to create the idolization of the man that we see in his son. Mitchum effortlessly brings an undisputed charm about the man that actually comes in part in that confidence as he shows a man who is truly comfortable with himself. He even makes the opening scene work where he scoffs getting shot, as Mitchum successfully makes sense out of the moment by portraying him as a man completely comfortable with who he is to the point that he also wholly accepts the violent consequences of his actions.
A pivotal relationship in the film is the Captain's relationship with his wife (Eleanor Parker) who is bitter over his lecherous ways, and basically wants to keep her son away from the man's influence. Mitchum is excellent in the way he maneuvers scenes between the two of them. In the confrontational scenes Mitchum technically presents a very sleazy man as the Captain wears his transgressions with pride, however again the sheer power of his presence overrides this in a most curious way that only few actors could possibly get away with. Mitchum though also utilizes this approach to actually earn the other side of the relationship that we see a few times where the Captain attempts to win back his wife. The warmth that Mitchum brings suggests a genuine love for his wife and is convincing that he could ease any of her bitterness. What's so interesting about this is that Mitchum does not define these moments as lying, but still the Captain being a man who, for better or worse, is himself no matter what.
Eventually the Captain's son learns that one of their workers, Rafe (George Peppard), is in fact the Captain's bastard son, which leads to central conflict of the film, as the son's image of his father is shattered. The film is directed by Vincent Minnelli who in a few of his other efforts in similair stories does not exactly avoid over the top melodrama. Now it is easy to see where that could have come most strongly with the character of Captain Hunnicutt, but is avoided through Mitchum's work. As this point comes as his son demands answers, and the Captain still stands by his choices no matter what, Mitchum holds his ground. He stays in a measured work that's true to the way he set up the character. There is a moment where the Captain explains the refusal, as basically he gets to do what he wants, Mitchum is great in the moment because his portrayal makes it so the Captain simply stays with his personal resolve. This is a very strong performance from Robert Mitchum as his low key approach not only earns the two perspectives of the character but also successfully merges them as one man.