17th Jul2014

‘Too Late Blues’ Blu-ray Review (Masters of Cinema)

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Bobby Darin, Stella Stevens, Everett Chambers, Nick Dennis, Vince Edwards, Val Avery, Marilyn Clark, James Joyce, Rupert Crosse | Written by John Cassavetes, Richard Carr | Directed by John Cassavetes


Ghost (Darin), is an idealistic musician who would rather play in the park to the birds and at other small time gigs than compromise himself by going big time. For his band mates however, a little bit of fame wouldn’t go a miss. But when Ghost falls for a girl called Jess who he meets at a party (Stevens), she comes between him and his band members. Splitting off from the group and abandoning the life he once knew, he sets off on a search for fame and leaves his dreams behind.

Too Late Blues is another entry in the Masters of Cinema Series, a film made in 1961, filmed in black and white and directed by John Cassavetes. From the title, you can probably tell that jazz and blues have a large impact on the film as a whole. ‘The Music’ is a big motivator for Ghost as well, so you will find it played a lot throughout and even the whole tone of the film has a more ‘laid back’ and bluesy feel to it. This results in a story which is very slow paced, almost at a stand still some of the time but also has some very emotional and powerful moments littered throughout.

The main character, Ghost, is a musician dedicated to the music and playing from the heart. He doesn’t want to be told what to do and he wants it all to be perfect. The initial relationship between him and Jess is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the film. It is the perfect example of a classic romance, beautifully told and the musical background just emphasises it. However, a slightly over acted fight scene ends it all and it comes crashing down around us. After that, I found the film a little harder to watch as Ghost sets out on his own in his quest for fame. He abandons everyone and everything that I felt made the first half of the film worth watching.

The overall essence of the film is there, it captures the world of jazz perfectly. It almost feels like a love story not between Ghost and Jess but with the audience and the music. That sounded extremely pretentious, which is fair because at times the film can be as well. Overall, the film doesn’t lie to you. It is a truthful film and never do any of the characters seem unrealistic or false. The music is great and definitely is a highlight of the film. But if I was to say that there weren’t moments when I would have quite easily turned it off due to the slow moving story, I would be lying.

Too Late Blues is released on Dual-Format Blu-ray on July 21st courtesy of Masters of Cinema


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