Too Late Blues

Director: John Cassavetes
Screenwriters: Richard Carr, John Cassavetes

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


The rarest film in the series. In fact, I don’t personally know anyone outside of Cassavetes’s circle who’s seen it besides myself, and I only caught it on a late show in New York in the late ‘60s, and again on a late show in L.A. in the late ‘80s. In performances that remain fresh and even shocking three decades later, Bobby Darin and Stella Stevens play a jazz musician and his lady hypnotized by each other, dazed by their own desires, and betrayed by their own ambitions.

Though made for Paramount, there is nothing “studio” about this strange picture. It’s as though the film itself is drunk. It charms you, then staggers, then makes itself ridiculous, then revenges itself upon you for its embarrassing gaffes, then suddenly turns and looks into your heart with eyes that you can’t face. And it goes through this cycle not once, but several times. It exists completely on its own: disowned by Paramount; mostly forgotten by Cassavetes; unknown to most filmgoers; yet it lives like a wino in an ignored alley of film history,simply neglecting to die by virtue of raw bravado, mad direction, and superb performances (the best of their lives) of Darin and Stevens. Weird and lovely.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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