A chronology and list of events in Cassavetes' early career, 1929 - 1968. To access a chronology and list of events covering the last ten years of Cassavetes' life and the seventeen years following his death, click here.

1929 - 1956 / 1957 - 1959 / 1960 -1962 / 1963 -1968

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Too Late Blues and A Child is Waiting: 1960-1962
  • In 1953, JC collaborates with screenwriter Edward McSorley (after a suggestion by Sam Shaw). He teaches him literally how to write a decent script and this will forever change JC's life.
  • Between 1958 and 1961, JC announces new plans to make movies in foreign locations, but these were merely "talking-stuff," and nothing comes out of it (The Hot Sun with Sidney Poitier, The Trial of Jesus with Carl Dreyer and Evil with Dalton Trumbo). But the set-up serves to press for real offers from elsewhere; for example, Hollywood.
  • During the summer of 1960, JC asks Dick Carr, whom he met on the set of Johnny Staccato, to write something with him. The result is three scripts: The Iron Man (written mainly by Carr), A Piece of Paradise (written mainly by JC) and Too Late Blues.
  • JC asks Marty Baum to try to sell the scripts to everybody. Marty Racklin of Paramount is interested.
  • The contract is drawn up in November. JC's paycheck is $80,000 and the budget around half a million dollars. The final script is dated January 16 1961 (with revisions up to February 8). 
  • The story has many autobiographical reminiscences. Starting from "Ghost" name, John, to his "selling out" to get money and fame (as JC did with Staccato).
  • JC rents a house and moves the whole family to Hollywood. They will establish in Laurel Canyon permanently.
  • JC wants GR and Montgomery Clift but the studio imposes Darin and Stevens. The rest of the cast is from AADA days.
  • The shooting lasts six weeks, from March 13 to April 21 1961.
  • JC has his way in most of the things he asks except for two things: Racklin wants him to cut a ten-minute dream-like scene where Ghost picks up a girl and spends the night with her and insists in ending the film without showing Jess walking away.
  • Too Late Blues is released in March 1962. It is a bomb. Reviews range from "serious flaw" to savaging it. Many people of his Shadows days are probably happy in seeing his failure, still considering him a sell-out.
  • After Too Late Blues, JC considers himself finished, at least in Hollywood. To his surprise, they ask him to sign a long-term contract and raise his salary to $125,000.
  • He decides to use one of the scripts he wrote with Carr, The Iron Man. The producer thinks it is too long and convinces him to switch to a United Artist's movie, A Child is Waiting with Burt Lancaster and produced by Stanley Kramer (Lancaster is to appear in The Iron Man but withdraws).
  • A Child is Waiting is based on an Abby Mann novel and script and a successful 1957 CBS TV production.
  • Troubles begin from the start. Cassavetes' youth and ego, Mann's suspicion about JC's improvisation and changes, and Garland's insecurities. The experience becomes a nightmare.
  • To make things worse, JC, after wrapping the movie in March 1962, goes to Racklin to ask to break his contract with Paramount and to continue to work with Kramer. Then, Kramer comes along.
  • Editing goes from early March to the middle of April in preparation of an important MGM screening. The movie is approved by JC on Friday Apri 20th. Two days later, he receives a call stating that Kramer is re-editing the film.
  • After the screening, JC wants Kramer to remove his name from the movie. They have a fight. He is finished and knows it.
  • The movie is released in February 1963 and, even if the new editing is not as bad as JC thinks, the movie is a flop.
  • Unable to find any kind of job, he stays at home with his son, pondering what the future will allow. Then, one day, he makes a decision that will forever change his life and film history.

1929 - 1956 / 1957 - 1959 / 1960 -1962 / 1963 -1968

A chronology and list of events in Cassavetes' early career, 1963-1968. To access a chronology and list of events covering the last ten years of Cassavetes' life and the seventeen years following his death, click here.

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Text Copyright 2003 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.