Following the critical success of his independently produced Shadows, John Cassavetes’s rarely seen second film was made within the studio system. Too Late Blues stars Bobby Darin as jazz pianist John “Ghost” Wakefield, Everett Chambers as the musician’s predatory agent Benny, and Stella Stevens as aspiring singer Jess.
Ghost leads a jazz ensemble and struggles to stay true to himself while pursuing fame and romance. Among the best of Hollywood’s jazz films, its music was composed by David Raksin and features some of the greatest West Coast players of the era, including Benny Carter and Shelly Manne.
Read a 2012 appreciation of the film from the Los Angeles Times.
"One of the more impressive Hollywood movies to be set in the hip, flip jazz world." —Time Out
"More recently, the few critics able to see the rarely screened film have found much to love. On the CinemaRetro web page, Dean Brierly hails it as 'a lost Cassavetes classic' and claims 'its stylistic daring and the emotional depth charges set off by its lead actors transcend the film's limitations. Indeed, its very awkwardness serves to underscore the instability of its ambitious yet emotionally stunted characters. The few souls lucky enough to have witnessed the minor miracle that is Too Late Blues find that it lodges in the memory with the persistence of a jilted lover.' For its more recent fans, any chance to view the film has become an occasion." —Turner Classic Movies
"There are lost films and then there are films so far gone it’s as if they never existed. At best, they make stealth appearances on late-night TV about as often as sightings of Halley’s Comet. Too Late Blues is such a film. This celluloid bastard child was born from the unlikely coupling of Paramount Pictures (i.e., the Hollywood establishment) and the anti-Hollywood actor/writer and director John Cassavetes. Yet while both parents swiftly disowned their jointly produced offspring, the film has tenaciously clung to a marginal life in the shadows of film history." —CinemaRetro