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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Too Late Blues [Blu-ray]



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:55.049

Disc Size: 16,843,727,629 bytes

Feature Size: 16,722,511,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 29th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1,78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 933 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 933 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)






• None





Description: Too Late Blues was the second feature film directed by legendary director John Cassavetes (A Woman Under the Influence). After his pioneering independent film Shadows, Cassavetes made his major studio directorial debut with this gritty drama about jazz musicians. Music legend (Bobby Darin) plays a bandleader who scuffles from gig to gig with his band, trying to keep body and soul together without betraying his muse. Sex symbol Stella Stevens (The Nutty Professor) plays a would-be singer with a dark past who meets Darin at a party and joins his band. The two fall deeply in love, but their world comes crumbling down after Darin and his band are involved in a bar fight and Darin is overcome by fear and is unable to fight back. The humiliation causes him to reject her and his band mates. The stellar cast includes Vince Edward (TV's Ben Casey) and Cassavetes regular Seymour Cassel (Minnie and Moskowitz).



The Film:

The success of John Cassavetes's independent Shadows led to a contract with Paramount that yielded only this 1960 feature, Cassavetes's second—a gauche but sincere drama with a highly relevant subject: the self-laceration and other forms of emotional havoc brought about when a footloose jazz musician (Bobby Darin) decides to sell out and go commercial. A lot could be (and was) said about what's wrong with this picture: it's pretentious, lugubrious, mawkish, and full of both naiveté and macho bluster. It also has moments that are indelible and heartbreaking, at least one unforgettable performance (Everett Chambers as the hero's manager), and many very touching ones (by Darin, Stella Stevens, Rupert Crosse, Vince Edwards, Cliff Carnell, and Seymour Cassel, among others), not to mention a highly affecting jazz score featuring Benny Carter and a haunting theme by David Raksin. If you care a lot about Cassavetes, you should definitely see this—otherwise keep your distance.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum at the Chicago Reader located HERE

After his pioneering independent film Shadows (1960), actor/writer/director John Cassavetes made his major studio directorial... debut with this gritty, low-key drama about jazz musicians. Bobby Darin plays John "Ghost" Walefield, a pianist who scuffles from gig to gig with his band, trying to keep body and soul together without betraying his muse. Ghost's agent Benny (Everett Chambers) introduces him to Jess (Stella Stevens), a would-be singer who looks beautiful, even though her voice is fair at best. Ghost falls hard for her and agrees to put her in the band, though it's hard to say if he believes in her musical talent or just wants her companionship. Ghost and his band score a record deal thanks to Jess' presence, but after a humiliating fight in a pool hall and Ghost's discovery that Jess occasionally turns tricks to pay the rent, he puts his integrity up for sale, fires his band, and starts spending his time with a rich woman who likes to hang out with musicians -- and is willing to pay for the privilege. A number of real-life jazz greats appear onscreen and on the soundtrack, including Slim Gaillard, Benny Carter, and Shelly Manne; the role of Ghost was originally written for Montgomery Clift, who was forced to back out at the last minute, leading to Bobby Darin's casting.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Too Late Blues has a modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. This is only single-layered and contrast looks a shade dusty - but this is probably more the condition of the source. I don't know that dual-layering would benefit the visuals extensively. The black levels do seem to improve as the films runs along and detail is acceptable - if not stellar. The outdoor sequences, naturally, looked the best. Detail is modest and there is no real depth but there is some grain and this may be a close approximation of how Too Late Blues looked more than 1/2 a century ago. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and any minor flaws had no detrimental effect on my viewing.
















Audio :

The jazz ('Benny Carter and a haunting theme by David Raksin...') and Stevens soft vocals shined in the DTS-HD mono track at 933 kbps. There is no depth or range to speak of but it seems a faithful transfer without flaws. Moments are surprisingly crisp at times.  There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with their releases.



I would probably agree with Jonathan Rosenbaum - those keen on Cassavetes work should indulge - others may find this imperfect effort a bit trying. The performances are wonderful (particularly likable Stella Stevens and edgy Vince Edwards) as is the jazzy aura but the film lacks the cohesiveness found in most of the director's oeuvre. I could easily see Monty (Montgomery Clift) in the lead although he didn't make it to the project. I won't point fingers at the Blu-ray (crappy cover though). I was thankful to actually see this Cassavetes film at all and this 1080P will prove to be the best way to watch it in your home theater. 

Gary Tooze

May 14th, 2012

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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