John Cassavetes’ second film as director marked a rare Hollywood engagement for the famously independent filmmaker. Long dismissed as a creative cul-de-sac, it’s also a fascinating “what if?”
As non-conformist jazz player, Ghost (Bobby Darin) lets his idealism threaten his success, the film displays a similar tension between art and commerce, its B-movie material enlivened by a director experimenting with studio resources and his own embryonic style.
The result is a melancholic affair that spills its emotions as loosely as the music.
Ghost falls in love with a mediocre vocalist, an “easy” girl called Jess (Stella Stevens). In turn, his ideals are shaken and his manhood challenged. Despondent, he sells out to a cheap record label, becomes a gigolo to the Countess (Marilyn Clark), loses his self-respect, and finds the determination to return to his ideals.
Whatever its flaws, there’s a real itch to break free from mainstream melodrama to something deeper.
John ‘Ghost’ Wakefield