Too Late Blues (1962)

100 mins | Drama | 28 February 1962

Full page view
HISTORY

According to an article in the 28 Dec 1960 DV, an agency known as GAC Associates negotiated a production deal between Paramount Pictures and actor -filmmaker John Cassavetes, resulting in Too Late Blues. Pre-production was underway as of 2 Sep 1960, as noted that day in DV. On 18 Jan 1961, DV announced that production would begin the following month. Composer Andre Previn was hired to write the score. Three weeks later, however, the 2 Feb 1961 DV reported that Previn had been replaced by David Raksin, whose score would include lead sheets to accommodate jazz improvisation. Cassavetes revealed Paramount’s plan to preview the film at the National Film Theatre in London, England, the Cinematheque in Paris, France, the Museum of Modern Art and Cinema 16 in New York City, and at University of California campuses. He added that the studio “has accepted a picture and an approach that don’t fall into any mold or category,” regarding commercial prospects. The title was briefly changed to Dreams for Sale. A 1 May 1961 DV news item noted that much of the dialogue was improvised, with Paramount’s approval.
       The 20 Mar 1961 DV stated that actor-singer Bobby Darin was arriving in Los Angeles, CA, that day to begin rehearsals. According to 31 Mar 1961 DV production charts, principal photography began 27 Mar 1961. The 9 Apr 1961 LAT noted that Darin’s wife, actress Sandra Dee, was on set throughout filming to observe her husband’s performance. One month after the start ... More Less

According to an article in the 28 Dec 1960 DV, an agency known as GAC Associates negotiated a production deal between Paramount Pictures and actor -filmmaker John Cassavetes, resulting in Too Late Blues. Pre-production was underway as of 2 Sep 1960, as noted that day in DV. On 18 Jan 1961, DV announced that production would begin the following month. Composer Andre Previn was hired to write the score. Three weeks later, however, the 2 Feb 1961 DV reported that Previn had been replaced by David Raksin, whose score would include lead sheets to accommodate jazz improvisation. Cassavetes revealed Paramount’s plan to preview the film at the National Film Theatre in London, England, the Cinematheque in Paris, France, the Museum of Modern Art and Cinema 16 in New York City, and at University of California campuses. He added that the studio “has accepted a picture and an approach that don’t fall into any mold or category,” regarding commercial prospects. The title was briefly changed to Dreams for Sale. A 1 May 1961 DV news item noted that much of the dialogue was improvised, with Paramount’s approval.
       The 20 Mar 1961 DV stated that actor-singer Bobby Darin was arriving in Los Angeles, CA, that day to begin rehearsals. According to 31 Mar 1961 DV production charts, principal photography began 27 Mar 1961. The 9 Apr 1961 LAT noted that Darin’s wife, actress Sandra Dee, was on set throughout filming to observe her husband’s performance. One month after the start of production, the 26 Apr 1961 DV reported that actress Stella Stevens was suffering from exhaustion, having had no time off after completing her previous film, Man-Trap (1961, see entry). Cassavetes allowed her to rest for the remainder of the week.
       On 29 May 1961, DV reported that Paramount executives viewed a rough edit of the film and were pleased with the results, prompting the studio to offer Cassavetes a seven-year, non-exclusive contract, as noted in the 19 May 1961 LAT. Nearly three months later, the 14 Aug 1961 DV stated that David Raksin was completing the score. The picture was scheduled to screen at the Venice Film Festival later that month, according to the 27 Jun 1961 LAT.
       The 18 Sep 1961 DV reported that a preview was held two weeks earlier in San Francisco, CA, with planned openings in Europe, prior to release in the U.S. The 23 Nov 1961 world premiere in London was announced in the 24 Nov 1961 DV. Stella Stevens, the only cast member in attendance, left for Paris the following day on a promotional tour.
       Too Late Blues opened 28 Feb 1962 in Los Angeles, CA, on the second half of a double bill with Summer and Smoke (1961, see entry), as noted in the 26 Feb 1962 LAT. Reviews were mixed, although critics commended Darin and Stevens on their performances. One month later, the 29 Mar 1962 NYT announced that Paramount abandoned its deal with Cassavetes. While the filmmaker described the Paramount staff as “cooperative and considerate,” he lamented the studio’s inability to market films to “art houses.” Paramount production chief Marty Rackin claimed he was unaware of Cassavetes’s intention to target art-house audiences. The 6 Jun 1962 DV reported that Paramount intended to produce a series of comedies, hoping to improve its sagging profit margin. The article noted that the film was described as a “stinker” at a stockholders meeting.
       Casting announcements included musician Slim Gaillard (23 Mar 1961 DV), James Victor (14 Apr 1961 DV), Nancy Valentine (20 Apr 1961 DV), Arthur Koulias (5 May 1961 DV), Frank London and Bob Gibbons (12 May 1961 DV), singer Brad Forrest in his first dramatic role (18 Jul 1961 LAT), Francois Andre (22 Feb 1962 Los Angeles Sentinel), and Geraldine Du Boies (9 May 1963 Los Angeles Sentinel).
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Sep 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Dec 1960
p. 5.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Mar 1961
p. 12.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1961
p. 11.
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1961
p. 5.
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 May 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 May 1961
p. 5.
Daily Variety
12 May 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
29 May 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Nov 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1961
p. 5.
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Jun 1962
p. 4.
Los Angeles Sentinel
22 Feb 1962
Section C, p. 4.
Los Angeles Sentinel
9 May 1963
Section A, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
9 Apr 1961
Section N, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
19 May 1961
Section B, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jul 1961
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jun 1961
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jan 1962
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
26 Feb 1962
Section C, p. 10.
New York Times
25 Feb 1962
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
1 Mar 1962
p. 27.
New York Times
29 Mar 1962
p. 30.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Dreams for Sale
Release Date:
28 February 1962
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 23 November 1961 Detroit showing: January 1962
Los Angeles opening: 28 February 1962
Production Date:
began 27 March 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures
Copyright Date:
31 December 1961
Copyright Number:
LP21176
Duration(in mins):
100
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Because he insists upon playing only what pleases him, jazz musician John "Ghost" Wakefield and his dedicated combo exist only on the outer fringes of the successful musical world. One day he meets and falls in love with Jess Polanski, a timid and uncertain vocalist, and takes her away from her fast-talking agent, Benny Flowers. Following a minor success at a recording session, Ghost, Jess, and the combo celebrate at their favorite hangout, Nick's poolhall. The party turns into a drunken free-for-all when the vindictive Benny instigates a fight between Ghost and a musician-hating bully named Tommy. Overcome by fear, Ghost is unable to fight back, a humiliation that causes him to reject Jess and his friends. His downfall is complete when he becomes the gigolo of an aging "countess" and ends up playing rank jazz for listless audiences. Only when Benny denounces him as a complete phony is Ghost able to attempt a new beginning. He seeks out Jess, now a drifter and a prostitute, and prevents her from committing suicide. Together they find the members of Ghost's combo; as Jess starts humming their old blues numbers, the antagonisms melt and the combo begins once more to play their kind of music. (Musical numbers include: "Sax Raises Its Ugly Head, " "Look Inward Angel," "The Rim Shot Heard 'Round the World," "Benny Splits While Jimmy Rowles," and "Move ... +


Because he insists upon playing only what pleases him, jazz musician John "Ghost" Wakefield and his dedicated combo exist only on the outer fringes of the successful musical world. One day he meets and falls in love with Jess Polanski, a timid and uncertain vocalist, and takes her away from her fast-talking agent, Benny Flowers. Following a minor success at a recording session, Ghost, Jess, and the combo celebrate at their favorite hangout, Nick's poolhall. The party turns into a drunken free-for-all when the vindictive Benny instigates a fight between Ghost and a musician-hating bully named Tommy. Overcome by fear, Ghost is unable to fight back, a humiliation that causes him to reject Jess and his friends. His downfall is complete when he becomes the gigolo of an aging "countess" and ends up playing rank jazz for listless audiences. Only when Benny denounces him as a complete phony is Ghost able to attempt a new beginning. He seeks out Jess, now a drifter and a prostitute, and prevents her from committing suicide. Together they find the members of Ghost's combo; as Jess starts humming their old blues numbers, the antagonisms melt and the combo begins once more to play their kind of music. (Musical numbers include: "Sax Raises Its Ugly Head, " "Look Inward Angel," "The Rim Shot Heard 'Round the World," "Benny Splits While Jimmy Rowles," and "Move Over.") +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
with songs


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.