Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast: Venice preview of Bruce Weber’s ‘work in progress’ on Hollywood Legend and tough-guy Robert Mitchum

Posted 9 years ago by myetvmedia

Not so clear as of yet is Weber’s use of intervening music along with memorable film clips from Mitchum’s key roles (some were poorly rendered for this preview). He sees Mitchum’s love for music and singing as a vehicle to understanding his subject, much like he used fresh performances by Chet Baker in ‘Lets Get Lost’ to bring us an emotional and current touchstone with the musician. Weber employs Ricky Lee Jones, Marianne Faithful and Doctor John to play and sing with Mitchum to loosen his heart strings as it were. In one peculiar but effective sequence, Weber intersperses clips from Mitchum films where he is either physically or psychologically overpowering his women with an odd-ball duet by James Brown and Luciano Pavarotii singing “Its a Man’s World”. Truth is Mitchum made countless films eschewing the ‘tough guy’ stuff for more sensitive roles, but most just aren’t memorable.

In a brief discussion following the screening in Venice the interviewer, Rajendra Roy, a MOMA curator (‘Lets Get Lost’ is now part of the permanent collection), didn’t ask Weber about the title, and while the reference to Mitchum’s women is clear, how Mitchum can arouse contradiction, if and how he uses Julie London’s song and lyric by the same name will be interesting. When looking at the contradictions in Mitchum himself, the closing refrain in the Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast lyric is most telling:

If you’re impressed With these words I professed I have just one small request

Pass the jam Please pass the jam Pass the jam

While remembering that this is still very much a ‘work in progress’, it will be a challenge for Weber to achieve in ‘Nice Girls’ the same transparency in his subject, seamless structure, juxtaposed and conflicting tales with soul bearing sentiments, as those he achieved in ‘Lets Get Lost’, a film that set a new standard in documentary biography. There Weber restored all that was great and pitiful in Baker’s life, already very much an open book, ready for someone like Weber’s keen and creative eye to make some sense out of it. With Mitchum, Weber had to mine his material and what he has shown thus far, while not close enough in depth to Lets Get Lost, is still very compelling. Mitchum is likely as complex as Baker, an innovator and certainly just as much the ‘trouble maker’. Cagney, Bogart and Raft were all dangerous tough guys on film before him, but Mitchum was a new breed of tough guy — physically beautiful and dangerous all at once; wild, insensitive, crude, confident and terrifying just to the look, and all before Brando, Eastwood and De Niro.

Enough teasing Bruce, here is hoping that your next premiere will be the complete ‘Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast’.

Alfredo Romano

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Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast: Venice preview of Bruce Weber’s ‘work in progress’ on Hollywood Legend and tough-guy Robert Mitchum

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