John Cassavetes was a pioneer of American independent film, and despite making such classics as A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Faces and Love Streams, he did spend a short period of his early career working within the Hollywood studio system. Too Late Blues is his second film, and the first for Paramount, and whilst it’s a minor film compared to much of his later work, it does give a glimpse of what’s to come.
‘Ghost’ Wakefield (Bobby Darin) is a jazz musician whose main concern is integrity. Along with his band, he refuses to take the easy money and drifts along struggling for work. His agent, Benny (Everett Chambers) often despairs, but he’s only really looking out for himself. When Ghost meets Benny’s latest ‘talent’, Jess (Stella Stevens), there’s instant attraction, but when music is your true love there’s not much room for anyone else.
Cassavetes was uncomfortable working within the studio system, and some of his anxiety is channelled into the character of Ghost. There are some impressive performances, particularly Everett Chambers plays Benny with delicious malevolence; it’s a subtly understated performance. Whilst Too Late Blues is one of his lesser films, there are still some great moments, and flashes of directorial inspiration. The barroom brawl not only showcases his flair for the offbeat, it also demonstrates a keen eye for the memorable.
• High-definition 1080p presentation on the Blu-ray, progressive encode on the DVD
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• New and exclusive video discussion of the film by critic David Cairns
• 52-page booklet featuring a new essay by critic and scholar David Sterritt, a 1961 interview profile with John Cassavetes, an excerpt from composer David Raksin s autobiography, and a 2007 interview with actor Stella Stevens.
Too Late Blues is released on Blu-ray and DVD dual format by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on July 21