In the late 1990s, the great photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber managed to convince Robert Mitchum to appear before his camera for a filmed portrait. Weber shot Mitchum in 35mm black and white, hanging with friends and cronies in restaurants and hotel rooms and singing before a microphone in a studio recording standards for a projected album. When Mitchum passed away in 1997, Weber parked his beloved project and it was some time before he went back into his footage. Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast (a great title, from a Julie London song), still a work in progress, is a beautifully textured full-throttle portrait of a man who came from—and for many was the very embodiment of—a bygone era, speaking and enacting its prejudices, its longings, and its charms. He was also a great artist with the sensibility of a poet, as you’ll see.
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