Let's Get Lost (1988 film)

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Let's Get Lost
Let's get lost poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Bruce Weber
Produced by Bruce Weber
Written by Bruce Weber
Starring Chet Baker
William Claxton
Russ Freeman
Carol Baker
Vera Baker
Diane Vavra
Ruth Young
Music by Chet Baker
Cinematography Jeff Preiss
Edited by Angelo Corrao
Distributed by Little Bear
Release date(s) September 15, 1988 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Running time 120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,000,000 (estimated)

Let's Get Lost (1988) is an American documentary film about the turbulent life and career of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker written and directed by Bruce Weber. The title is derived from a song by Jimmy McHugh and Frank Loesser from the 1943 film Happy Go Lucky which Baker recorded for Pacific Records.[1]


A group of Baker fans, ranging from ex-associates to ex-wives and children, talk about the man. Weber’s film traces the man’s career from the 1950s, playing with jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Gerry Mulligan, and Russ Freeman, to the 1980s, when his heroin addiction and domestic indifference kept him in Europe. By juxtaposing these two decades, Weber presents a sharp contrast between the younger, handsome Baker — the statuesque idol who resembled a mix of James Dean and Jack Kerouac — to what he became, “a seamy looking drugstore cowboy-cum-derelict,” as J. Hoberman put it in his Village Voice review.[2]

Let’s Get Lost begins near the end of Baker’s life, on the beaches of Santa Monica, and ends at the Cannes Film Festival. Weber uses these moments in the present as bookends to the historic footage contained in the bulk of the film. The documentation ranges from vintage photographs by William Claxton in 1953 to appearances on The Steve Allen Show and kitschy, low budget Italian films Baker did for quick money.


Bruce Weber first became interested in Chet Baker when he spotted a photograph of the musician in a Pittsburgh record store on the cover of the 1955 vinyl LP Chet Baker Sings and Plays with Bud Shank, Russ Freeman and Strings when he was 16 years old. Weber first met Baker in the winter of 1986 at a club in New York City[3] and convinced him to do a photo shoot and what was originally only going to be a three-minute film.[4] Weber had wanted to make a short film from an Oscar Levant song called "Blame It on My Youth". They had such a good time together that Baker started opening up to Weber. Afterwards, Weber convinced Baker to make a longer film and the musician agreed.[5] Filming began in January 1987. Interviewing Baker was a challenge as Weber remembers, "Sometimes we'd have to stop for some reason or another and then, because Chet was a junkie and couldn't do things twice, we'd have to start all over again. But we grew to really like him".[6]

"You'd decide that, when Chet finally gets up, you'll grab him and talk to him about the early days," Weber expanded to Time Out. "But then Chet gets here, and he's had a fight with his girlfriend, and he wants to record a song… So what happens is that your world becomes like a jazz suite. You have to go along with him."

In May 1987, when Weber's documentary Broken Noses premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, he brought Baker along to shoot footage for Let's Get Lost. Weber spent a million dollars of his own money on the documentary and filmed it when he had the time and the money, describing it as a "a very ad hoc film".[3] The film's title comes from a song performed by Baker and recorded on the album Chet Baker Sings and Plays, which was the first Baker album director Bruce Weber bought when he was 16 years old at a Pittsburgh record store.[4]


Let's Get Lost had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The documentary was well received by critics and currently has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating and said that Weber "created just about the only documentary that works like a novel, inviting you to read between the lines of Baker's personality until you touch the secret sadness at the heart of his beauty".[7] In her review for the Los Angeles Times, Carina Chocano wrote, "If there's a driving force to Weber's film, it seems to be delving into the nature and purpose of star quality and personal magnetism, which Baker had in droves but which didn't save him".[8] In his review for the Washington Post, Hal Hinson wrote that what Weber "provides us is rapturous, deeply involving, and more than a little puzzling".[9] Terrence Rafferty, in his review for The New York Times, wrote, "The enduring fascination of Let’s Get Lost, the reason it remains powerful even now, when every value it represents is gone, is that it’s among the few movies that deal with the mysterious, complicated emotional transactions involved in the creation of pop culture — and with the ambiguous process by which performers generate desire".[10]

A newly restored print was screened at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.[11]


Let's Get Lost was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1988.[12]

Home media[edit]

Let's Get Lost was released on VHS and Laserdisc in Japan by Nippon Columbia on November 21, 1993.

Let's Get Lost was originally going to be released on DVD in 2007 along with an expanded version of the film's soundtrack.[3] According to Weber, the DVD was to be released in December 2007 but failed to do so.[6] The DVD was released in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2008.


  1. ^ Frank Loesser website
  2. ^ Hoberman, J (April 25, 1989). "Self-Destructive Beauties". The Village Voice. 
  3. ^ a b c Adams, James (September 9, 2006). "Through a Legend, Darkly". The Globe and Mail. 
  4. ^ a b Kreigmann, Jame (December 1988). "Requiem for a Horn Player". Esquire. p. 231. 
  5. ^ James, Nick (June 2008). "Return Of The Cool". Sight & Sound. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  6. ^ a b Lewis, Anne S (April 27, 2007). "Chet Baker in Black and White, but Still Blurry". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  7. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (June 13, 2007). "Let's Get Lost". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  8. ^ Chocano, Carina (January 11, 2008). "Lost traces jazz legend's shocking descent". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  9. ^ Hinson, Hal (June 2, 1989). "Let's Get Lost". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-02-20. 
  10. ^ Rafferty, Terrence (June 3, 2007). "A Jazzman So Cool You Want Him Frozen at His Peak". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  11. ^ "Cannes Classics Set For Fifth Year". indieWIRE. May 7, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  12. ^ "NY Times: Let's Get Lost". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 

External links[edit]