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Too Late Blues (1961)

Ghost is an idealogical musician who would rather play his blues in the park to the birds than compromise himself. However, when he meets and falls in love with beautiful singer, Jess ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
John 'Ghost' Wakefield
Jess Polanski
Everett Chambers ...
Benny Flowers
Nick Dennis ...
Nick Bubalinas
Tommy Sheehan (as Vincent Edwards)
Milt Frielobe
Marilyn Clark ...
James Joyce ...
Reno Vitelli
Rupert Crosse ...
Baby Jackson
Recording Engineer
Alan Hopkins ...
Skipper Camez (as J. Alan Hopkins)
Cliff Carnell ...
Richard Chambers ...
Pete (as Richard O. Chambers)
Dan Stafford ...


Ghost is an idealogical musician who would rather play his blues in the park to the birds than compromise himself. However, when he meets and falls in love with beautiful singer, Jess Polanski, she comes between him and his band members, and he leaves his dreams behind in search of fame. Written by David Gibson <djg6@ukc.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

band | love | ghost | park | musician | See All (96) »


The Bold Story Of A Man Caught Between Two Strange Loves!




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Release Date:

January 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Blues troppo tardivo  »

Box Office


$375,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)
See  »

Did You Know?


Montgomery Clift was originally going to play the lead role of Ghost. See more »


Music by David Raksin
Benny Carter, flute
See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywood limits of the New Thing
12 December 2015 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

A jazz musician with his group wants to be free to express himself and love his girl, not worry about settling down with a job. They play out in parks, goof around in bars and wait for their big break. Later when they go to the studio to record he says that he wants to play music he wants to and not what some producer thinks will make money, but in a fit of ego alienates everyone, yells his band away and wounds up alone as a sell-out auditioning for an upscale joint.

And this was Cassavetes himself at this point in his life. He had played a jazz piano playing detective on TV a few years prior. He had made Shadows in a close group of friends, playing music he wanted to. It had taken him three years to finish, two shoots and no prospects were forthcoming. He had even managed to alienate his group over money when the first meager profits came in. So he wound up lobbying hard for a low budget job in Hollywood which he got to make this.

Okay so we now know it as a mere footnote in the career of this man, but it's not bad at all; elicits strong performances, and has a voice that speaks about pressing needs, youth with no prospects. More interesting is how Cassavetes would expand in later years.

The difference with Shadows is not in what it has to say, nor in the type of life, nor how it portrays sex and relationships. We see unsure youth in both. This was scripted, but so was Shadows. No, it's that he has been taken in from outside and that intangible studio quality zaps the whole thing of breath. He wanted real locations in New york, got studio space on a stage. He wanted actual jazz for the band, had to settle for watered down Hollywood score jazz by whoever happened to be on the payroll.

Ironic. The film was made at all and Cassavetes hired to do it, because a producer wanted to see if he could cash in on the "art film" then taking flight, exemplified in Shadows, which no studio would deign to pick up. He knew close to nothing about making films of course, so if he is stifled, it's not in the way of Welles who had delicately conceived work botched after the fact. He simply doesn't have room to breathe shape in the discovery.

That's all fine. He would take flight in a few years, nothing went to waste.

A new expression was bubbling up around the country but fuddy daddies in control of industries still clung tenaciously to their outmoded ways. In music this is Aretha Franklin's Columbia records from the same period: powerful young voice stifled by cocktail arrangements. It would take the ugliest in a nation, rampant racism and war, for all these mores to be rolled back and dismantled, and that for a few brief years. Cassavetes would resurface during that time. What will it take now? Do we even have a New Thing?

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Too Late Blues jdedeaux
Everett Chambers pratically steals the film. bobvend
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