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Too Late Blues (1961)

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
Bobby Darin
Jess Polanski
Stella Stevens
Benny Flowers
Everett Chambers
Nick Bubalinas
Nick Dennis
Tommy Sheehan
Vince Edwards
Milt Frielobe
Val Avery
Marilyn Clark
Reno Vitelli
James Joyce
Baby Jackson
Rupert Crosse
Skipper Camez
Alan Hopkins
Cliff Carnell
Richard Chambers
Seymour Cassel
Dan Stafford

John Cassavetes