Archive of films Shadows / Shadows

USA
1959, 87 min

Section: Tribute to John Cassavetes
Year: 2004

Cassavetes’ first feature offers a vibrant portrait of three black siblings living in Beatnik-era Manhattan. Made over a period of two-and-a-half years (1957 – 1959), it grew out of improvisations led by Cassavetes at his drama workshop. As fresh and powerful a debut as Breathless or The 400 Blows, it retains its poignant immediacy today. 


Synopsis

Cassavetes’ first feature offers a fresh and vibrant portrait of three black siblings living in Beatnik-era Manhattan. Hugh, the eldest, is a struggling nightclub entertainer, who supports the others by taking third billing at strip clubs. Ben, his lighter-skinned brother, is a moody trumpet player who masks his emotions behind dark glasses and hipster poses. He’s always out drinking with friends, picking up girls, and looking for trouble. Lelia, the youngest, is a mercurial beauty, testing the limits of her power to attract. After she is seduced by a handsome but callow youth who quickly retreats when he discovers she is not white, Lelia finds that she is more vulnerable than she imagined. Made over two-and-a-half years (1957–1959), Shadows grew out of improvisations led by Cassavetes at his drama workshop. A first version of the film was shown publicly in late 1958, but Cassavetes deemed it a failure and shot for an additional 20 days, adding many new scenes and deleting nearly 2/3 of his original footage.  Although the end credits state “what you have just seen was an improvisation,” his final rendering was actually carefully scripted and planned. This print has been restored by the UCLA Film Archive.

About the director

see Tribute to John Cassavetes 

Contacts

UCLA Film and Television Archive
1015 North Cahuenga Blvd., CA 90038-2616, Hollywood
United States of America
Tel: +1 323 462 4921
Fax: +1 323 469 9055
E-mail: twiener@ucla.edu

Faces Distribution Corporation
5 Erin Place, NJ 07730, Hazlet
United States of America
Tel: +1 732 264 5639
Fax: +1 732 264 5635
E-mail: aaruban@cs.com

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to John Cassavetes
   
Director: John Cassavetes
Screenplay: John Cassavetes
Dir. of Photography: Erich Kollmar
Music: Charles Mingus
Editor: John Cassavetes, Maurice McEndree
Producer: Maurice McEndree
Cast: Hugh Hurd, Lelia Goldoni, Ben Carruthers, Anthony Ray, David Pokitillow, Rupert Crosse
Contact: UCLA Film and Television Archive, Faces Distribution Corporation

Guests

Vladimír Opěla

Film Institution Rep.

Seymour Cassel


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