Shadows

Overview

The concept of independent filmmaking didn't really exist in 1957 (and underground movies were unknown to anyone beyond a tiny handful of bohemians in New York and the West Coast) when John Cassavetes gathered together some students from the acting workshop he taught with Burt Lane, commandeered a 16mm camera and began shooting a movie. Shadows was something very new and different when it opened in a handful of art houses in 1959, and while Cassavetes would make better and more accomplished films over the next ...
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Overview

The concept of independent filmmaking didn't really exist in 1957 (and underground movies were unknown to anyone beyond a tiny handful of bohemians in New York and the West Coast) when John Cassavetes gathered together some students from the acting workshop he taught with Burt Lane, commandeered a 16mm camera and began shooting a movie. Shadows was something very new and different when it opened in a handful of art houses in 1959, and while Cassavetes would make better and more accomplished films over the next thirty years, watching it today it's interesting to see that his signature style and point of view was already in place, emphasizing naturalism above all else and giving his cast free reign to tell this story of love, honesty and their failings. Shadows has never looked especially good on home video, and the Criterion Collection are to be congratulated for giving the movie what is easily its most attractive presentation to date; this DVD includes as a bonus a short documentary on the painstaking restoration that was performed on Shadows by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and the new restored print was used for this transfer. Shadows, transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio, still looks like a rough and tumble enterprise created by amateurs with more enthusiasm than skill, but with the contrast corrected, a bit of the grain smoothed out and the framing properly adjusted, the film reveals a far more careful visual style than earlier video releases would lead one to expect. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and while it has also been upgraded over previous releases, it still sounds as if it was recorded using amateur equipment (which it sometimes was), and some viewers might choose to switch on the optional English subtitles to sort out some of the dialogue. (The movie is in English, with no multiple language options.) Along with the documentary on the restoration, other bonus features on this disc include new interviews with leading lady Lelia Goldoni and actor and associate producer Seymour Cassel, a gallery of production stills, silent footage of Cassavetes and Lane acting workshop in session, the trailer for the movie's British theatrical release and a booklet with essays by Gary Giddings and Cassavetes (the latter taken from a 1961 issue of Films and Filming). Unless and until Shadows is released in the Blu-Ray format, Criterion's DVD of Shadows is the definitive presentation of this historically important and vital film, and anyone interested in Cassavetes' career should give it a look, even if they've seen the picture before.
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Special Features

Video interviews with actress Lelia Goldoni and associate producer Seymour Cassel; Rare silent 16mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane's acting workshop; Restoration demonstration; Stills gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes production photos; Theatrical trailer; A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1961 article by Cassavetes
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
John Cassavetes' Shadows is one of the most important and influential movies of American independent cinema. Shot on location in New York City in gritty, naturalistic black-and-white, it was one of the first American efforts to exhibit the urgent, spontaneous look and feel of French New Wave films. Cassavetes had been a reasonably well-known actor, but his first directorial effort was a world apart from the popular dramas of the era. Shadows set the tone for personal, independently made features for decades to come: it tackled controversial subject matter, featured a cast of unknowns, and had a distinctly unprofessional veneer in most technical aspects. The candidness of the performances and the audacity of the director set it apart: the script was largely influenced by the actors during their rehearsals. In initial screenings, Shadows was shunned by audiences; Cassavetes reworked much of it and re-released the film to greater success.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/17/2009
  • UPC: 037429187722
  • Original Release: 1959
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Presentation: B&W
  • Time: 1:21:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 16,763

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lelia Goldoni Lelia
Ben Carruthers Ben
Anthony Ray Tony
Hugh Hurd Hugh
Rupert Crosse Rupert
Tom Allen Tom
Dennis Sallas Dennis
Cliff Carnell
David Jones David
Ronald Maccone
Bob Rech
Jack Ackerman Jack
John Cassavetes
Marilyn Clark Girl at party
Greta Thyssen Girl at party
Technical Credits
John Cassavetes Director, Screenwriter
Jack Ackerman Songwriter
Len Appelson Editor
Seymour Cassel Associate Producer
Shifi Hadi Score Composer
Erich Kollmar Cinematographer
Randy Liles Production Designer, Set Decoration/Design
Maurice McEndree Editor, Producer
Charles Mingus Score Composer
Nico Papatakis Producer
Bob Rech Set Decoration/Design
Hunt Stevens Songwriter
Eleanor Winters Songwriter
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Shadows
1. The Pickup [:18]
2. The Rehearsal [6:19]
3. The Act [7:31]
4. The Sculpture Garden [5:45]
5. Literary Party [6:27]
6. The Date [5:21]
7. The Family [10:18]
8. A Few Cats Come By [11:33]
9. Lucky Day [8:19]
10. Slow Dance [6:45]
11. The Happiness Boys [5:06]
12. Color Bars [8:16]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Shadows
   Play the Movie
   Chapters
   Lelia Goldoni Interview
      Play
   Seymour Cassel Interview
      Play
   Workshop Footage
      Play
   Restoration Demonstration
      Play
   Stills Gallery
   Trailer
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