F.: Jeff Preiss. M.: Angela Corrao. Int.: Chet Baker, Carol Baker, Vera Baker, Paul Baker, Dean Baker, Missy Baker. Prod.: Bruce Weber per Little Bear Films. 35mm. D.: 120’. Bn.
Chet Baker’s life plays out like a Kerouac creation, as did his death. But out of his life came some of the most lyrical trumpet playing and jazz vocals ever heard.
Following the elusive and digressive nature of their star, Weber, cinematographer Jeff Preiss, and crew went on the road with Baker from the West Coast to the East Coast to continental Europe, during what turned out to be the last year of the musician’s life. Weber captures some of Baker’s last recording sessions and weaves together excerpts from Italian B-movies starring the handsome young Chet, rare performance footage, and candid interviews with Baker, musicians, friends, battling ex-wives and children. The soundtrack may very well contain Chet Baker’s last recordings, included are such memorable songs as Imagination, My One and Only Love, Almost Blue and You’re my Thrill.
I say in the film, “Everybody has a story about Chet Baker”. I made the film with Chet because I wanted to have my own story about him. Dick Bock, the founder of Pacific Jazz Records, thought that Chet sounded like he was the history of jazz. He was Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Bunny Berrigan all rolled into one. His music brings you the romance of the beach, the sea, and the moonlight no matter where in the world you are hanging out. […]
We didn’t create events for Chet in the film; we let certain scenes happen. One time, we had planned to shoot on the beach, but Chet was so late that we found some stray pups and filmed them instead. […] My cinematographer Jeff Preiss and I worked closely to make the film a mixture of black and white reversal film and a little bit of 8mm. We wanted our film to fit with the look of the archival footage. […]
Robert Mitchum was Chet’s and my favorite actor, so when I finished Let’s Get Lost, I started to work on a musical film about Bob. Marianne Faithfull, Rickie Lee Jones, and Dr. John joined us and it became a wild ride. Chet’s film was my Harvard and my Marine bootcamp – it got me ready to make a film about the original bad boy of Hollywood, my pal Bob Mitchum.