Too Late Blues

Too Late Blues

Director: John Cassavetes

Cast: Bobby Darin, Stella Stevens, Everett Chambers

     
 

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After his pioneering independent film Shadows (1960), actor/writer/director John Cassavetes made his major studio directorial debut with this gritty, low-key drama about jazz musicians. Bobby Darin plays John "Ghost" Walefield, a pianist who scuffles from gig to gig with his band, trying to keep body and soul together without betraying his muse. Ghost's agentSee more details below

Overview

After his pioneering independent film Shadows (1960), actor/writer/director John Cassavetes made his major studio directorial debut with this gritty, low-key drama about jazz musicians. Bobby Darin plays John "Ghost" Walefield, a pianist who scuffles from gig to gig with his band, trying to keep body and soul together without betraying his muse. Ghost's agent Benny (Everett Chambers) introduces him to Jess (Stella Stevens), a would-be singer who looks beautiful, even though her voice is fair at best. Ghost falls hard for her and agrees to put her in the band, though it's hard to say if he believes in her musical talent or just wants her companionship. Ghost and his band score a record deal thanks to Jess' presence, but after a humiliating fight in a pool hall and Ghost's discovery that Jess occasionally turns tricks to pay the rent, he puts his integrity up for sale, fires his band, and starts spending his time with a rich woman who likes to hang out with musicians -- and is willing to pay for the privilege. A number of real-life jazz greats appear onscreen and on the soundtrack, including Slim Gaillard, Benny Carter, and Shelly Manne; the role of Ghost was originally written for Montgomery Clift, who was forced to back out at the last minute, leading to Bobby Darin's casting.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
During the early years of his directing career, Cassavetes evinced a strong interest in jazz, and although this is one of his lesser films, it features interesting work by Bobby Darin, as well as a rare screen glimpse of the kind of scuffling endemic to most musicians in the idiom. The flimsy script, which invokes prostitution as a metaphor for the compromises an artist has to deal with in this cruel world, no doubt reflects the obstacles facing the director as one of the pioneer independent directors, but otherwise has little to recommend it. Although it seems the director kept improvisation to a minimum, he uses takes far longer than were common at the time, giving his actors a chance to stretch out, much like musicians. However, unlike his later films, most of the cast is far from being up to the challenge, especially the indelibly bad Everett Chambers, as Darin's vampirish manager. Yet, thanks to Darin, the film has occasional moments of genuine power for those willing to wade through some self-indulgent scenes. Benny Carter and Slim Gaillard are among the jazz legends providing excellent source music, with which David Raksin's score dovetails beautifully. Val Avery and Seymour Cassell shine in inexplicably small parts.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2012
UPC:
0887090039109
Original Release:
1961
Rating:
NR
Source:
Olive Films
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:41:00
Sales rank:
33,043

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bobby Darin John "Ghost" Wakefield
Stella Stevens Jess Polanski
Everett Chambers Benny Flowers
Cliff Carnell Charlie
Seymour Cassel Red
Marilyn Clark The Countess
Nick Dennis Nick
James Joyce Reno
Allyson Ames Billie Gray
John Cassavetes Actor
Mario Gallo Actor
Vincent Edwards Tommy
Val Avery Frielobe
Rupert Crosse Baby Jackson
Slim Gaillard Party singer
June Wilkinson Girl at Bar

Technical Credits
John Cassavetes Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Frank Bracht Editor
Richard Carr Screenwriter
John P. Fulton Special Effects
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Tambi Larsen Art Director
Lionel Lindon Cinematographer
Hal Pereira Production Designer
David Raksin Score Composer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Too Late Blues
1. Chapter 1 [:12]
1. Opening [8:03]
2. Princess [10:51]
3. On the Town [14:53]
4. At the Park [13:43]
5. Celebration [2:16]
6. Trouble [4:09]
7. True Colors [14:31]
8. Jess Polanski [16:33]

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