Int.: Robert Mitchum, Johnny Depp, Benicio del Toro, Polly Bergen, Brenda Vaccaro, Marianne Faithfull, Rickie Lee Jones, Doctor John, Carrie Mitchum, Cindy Azbill, Jack O’Halloran. DCP. D.: 68’. Bn e Col.
In 1991 iconic photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber set out to make a portrait of legendary actor and original Hollywood ‘bad boy’ Robert Mitchum. Twenty-six years later the filmmaker Bruce Weber had made a musical, featuring Robert Mitchum singing jazz standards along with Rickie Lee Jones, Marianne Faithfull and Doctor John, among a few other adventures with a great cast of characters and admirers like Polly Bergen and Johnny Depp. The film is a rare and intimate glimpse into the world of one of Hollywood’s greatest actors. Replete with stories of another time, plenty of duets, a lot of laughter – and some tears – it is a madcap and loving tribute to the actor.
A famous actor once told me that one of the best performances he’d ever seen was Bob Mitchum during a dinner party. In making a portrait of Bob, I tried to show the man who made over 130 movies and still wanted us to believe that he just didn’t care. Bob was very well-read and wrote poetry, which comes as a surprise to most people, who can only see him as the original tough guy who made war movies and Westerns.
This is how the project began – our film was initially inspired by a book Bob wrote with his brother John called Them Ornery Mitchum Boys. Then, with the help of Dr. John, Marianne Faithfull and Rickie Lee Jones, it became a musical. But as we continued filming, I realized that my film was really about an aging sex symbol, who happened to be a man – instead of the usual Marilyn Monroe story that we’re so used to reading about in books and magazines.
Bob didn’t like to talk about the early days because he had run away from home ten times before he was fifteen, had been in prison, and was on a chain gang in Georgia. Like most male actors who had come of age at that time, he had a problem communicating when he wasn’t in wardrobe and makeup. I think that my film tries to show through interviews, music and archival footage of Bob’s old films, the struggle that one has when you spend your entire life still trying to run away from home.