John Cassavetes Albert Johnson - Essay

Albert Johnson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It is … quite interesting to discover in John Cassavetes' new film, Too Late Blues, a truly challenging Hollywood film, giving an unusual interpretation of a group of white jazz musicians in Los Angeles. It is still not the jazz film for which we have all been waiting, but more than its predecessors it reveals with authenticity the awkward, nonintellectual passions and weaknesses of people who make a living out of playing jazz music. It explores character with [depth and sincerity], and in the screenplay Cassavetes and his collaborator, Richard Carr, have managed to capture the argot—swift, hardboiled, and sometimes poetic—of music-making hipsters without a cause. It is a very strange and exciting film to come from a major Hollywood studio. (pp. 49-50)

[Despite] the early perplexities of the film (one is not really certain about Ghost's motivations or personality from the outset, yet this is deliberately part of the scriptwriters' intentions), Too Late Blues holds one with its contrasting atmospheres of footloose jazz characters…. (p. 50)

Cassavetes succeeds in presenting a moving love-story of life among the jazz people, full of crowded, interracial parties and artistic insecurity. Perhaps, too, here and there throughout the film, the director, seeking to uncover the hearts of his characters, has partially exposed their agonized souls. (p. 51)

Albert Johnson, "Film Reviews: 'Too Late Blues'," in Film Quarterly (copyright 1962 by The Regents of the University of California; reprinted by permission of the University of California Press), Vol. XV, No. 2, Winter, 1961–62, pp. 49-51.