Updated RankingsA Child is Waiting
(1963)* * * - Okay
A case where the studio manages to keep the flavor of the director to make the film less mainstream, but not too far from the waters. Similar to The Men, which was also produced by Stanley Kramer, there's an unusual amount of realism which makes the heavy hammering of the message even more of a problem. A difficult film at times, but some great performances and scenes. Judy Garland seems to be missing some character and Burt Lancaster is solid, but the movie is stolen by Gena Rowlands (who I didn't recognize initially) as a mother who appears to have abandoned her child, but is actually doing what she hopes is best. She's torn between the two teachers and her own husband, played by Steven Hill. Their relationship is actually the most interesting of the film.Too Late Blues
(1961)* * * - Okay
You can draw a line from 1953's I Vitelloni to 1973's Mean Streets and that line would pass through this film. Young men with hopes and dreams, but really enjoy goofing around together, drinking, talking like a bunch of hens, getting into fights, often over careers and women. If you know Cassavetes style it's not hard to imagine how his way of letting a scene breathe fits this type of story wonderfully, if a bit indulgently. It's got a great "cool in the club" vibe, but what sets Blues apart is Stella Stevens as the woman all the men like to flex their power for, but she has no self-esteem. Unusual for the woman to see herself more as an object than the men in her life who are trying to boost her confidence. Another original stroke by the filmmaker.
It's an uncommon opinion but I wish there were more films with Cassavetes working inside the studio and less of his indie films, which have an indulgence I cannot stand at times. Compromised as these films might seem by comparison, he elevates the material in an interesting way.