Too Late Blues (1961)

Too Late Blues
Directed by John Cassavettes
Written by Richard Carr and John Cassavettes
Paramount Pictures
First viewing/Netflix rental


People all over the world have problems. And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die. B. B. King

I love John Cassavettes. This early studio film shows a lot of promise but is let down by its script.

John “Ghost” Wakefield (Bobby Darin) is a jazz musician who marches to a different drummer.  He refuses to play or allow his band to play any music he does not deem worthy.  He adopts Jess Polanski (Stella Stevens), a messed-up singer with a very eccentric style and eventually falls in love with her and takes her away from her boyfriend, who happens to be his agent.

Eventually, Ghost’s refusal to do anything that might potentially earn money drives away his band.  The agent already hates him.  Then Ghost splits up with Jess who slides deeper into despair.  With Seymour Cassels as one of the band members.

On the positive side, the look of the film is wonderful and there are some improvisational-feeling group scenes in the beginning that are classic Cassavettes.  By the second act, however, the story lost me.  I still don’t know exactly why Ghost found the need to break up with Jess.  It ended up being a decidedly mixed experience.