|Harmony Korine, writer-director
of Kids, Gummo, Julian Donkey-Boy
|THE BEST FILM BOOK
opinion of Xan Cassavetes, John Cassavetes' daughter and the
director of Z Channel and other works, about Ray Carney's Cassavetes
on Cassavetes, as relayed to Carney by a friend in Los Angeles
(stars indicate omitted personal material):
am still in LA, working on *** , which is coming along. Real progress.
This evening saw Z CHANNEL, a new documentary by Xan Cassavetes.
*** I spoke with her after the screening. I thought you might like
to know that she absolutely loves CASS ON CASS. Says she
sleeps with it. Says it's enabled her to have conversations with
her father she never had."
on Cassavetes] is a labor of love, scholarship, and detective
work. From a chaotic mountain of primary and secondary sources,
Ray Carney has shaped the story of John Cassavetes' life and
work-using the words of the great director himself, and also
calling on his colleagues and friends to supply their memories
and revelations. 'This is the autobiography he never lived to
write,' Carney says, but it is more: Not only the life story,
but history, criticism, homage, lore. Like a Cassavetes film,
it bursts with life and humor, and then reveals fundamental truths.
|Tom Dawson, Total
Film (London), in a four star review, selecting Cassavetes
on Cassavetes as Book of the Month
A mammoth undertaking
which clocks in at more than 500 pages, [Cassavetes on Cassavetes]
draws on an array of interviews, both with Cassavetes and with
his regular 'family' of collaborators, who include his wife Gena
Rowlands, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazzara. Carney has shaped this
mass of material into a compelling narrative of an indefatigable
outsider who constantly battled to get his films financed, shot
and released. Cassavetes himself emerges as a contradictory,
bloody-minded figure, driving those he worked with to distraction
in his quest to explore human feelings on celluloid. This was,
after all, a man who recut a film because it was too popular
in a preview screening. But there's something heroic about his
refusal to compromise his vision, and his insistence that an
artist 'must try different thingsbut above all must dare
|Stephen Rees, Library
a self-described 'bigmouth' and 'troublemaker' as well as a prolific
writer and talker. In Cassavetes on Cassavetes, he discusses
his actor's beginnings, honing his craft in the golden age of live
television drama, and his growing disenchantment with the studio
system. He expounds on improvisation, shaping a film performance,
favorite themes of love and marriage, and the eternal problems
of independent film distribution. Reading this book is like attending
an extended master class at the Actors Studio, a reminder of a
rebellious spirit sadly missed.
|Ben Raworth, HotDog
Magazine (London), in a four-star review, selecting Cassavetes
on Cassavetes as the HotDog Pick
|Drawing on extensive
interviews with the director, Carney has written the definitive
John Cassavetes tome. You get the real low-down, colored by candid
conversations with those who knew him best.... Fascinating and
Carney (Film and American Studies/Boston University) explores the
cinematic philosophy and practices of maverick actor and director
John Cassavetes (1929-89). Carney did a prodigious amount of research
to prepare this thorough, admiring, and even affectionate examination
of Cassavetes' films. He interviewed Cassavetes many times, spoke
with virtually everyone who had ever worked with him, viewed every
inch of relevant footage he could acquire, studied every interview
ever granted by the loquacious filmmaker, and read the multiple
versions of Cassavetes' screenplays. A compulsive reviser, Cassavetes
does not deserve, in the author's view, his reputation as a director
of improvised productions. Instead, he was a ferocious, tireless
worker, a man who would do just about anything to complete a film
(or find a booking for it), a director who would manipulate cast
and crew to achieve an effect he felt he could achieve no other
way. Carney is less interested in the ordinary biographical facts
of Cassavetes' life than he is in his artistic temperament and
credo.... In most cases, Carney devotes an entire chapter to each
film, beginning with Shadows (screened in 1958) and ending
with Love-Streams (1984). The author's technique is to let
Cassavetes speak for himself whenever possible, so the text is
largely an anthology of the filmmaker's published and previously
unpublished comments on his life and work, intercut with Carney's
transitions, explanations, and revisions. Fascinating footage of
the mind and heart of an American original.
|Jason Wood, Kamera.co.UK
|Described as the
autobiography Cassavetes never lived to write, [Cassavetes on
Cassavetes is] a lovingly crafted, elegiac affair and a fitting
epitaph to a man of ferocious integrity, determined to dictate
the conditions in which he creatively toiled with scant regard
for the conventions of Hollywood studio feature production....
Eschewing the narrative ellipticism for which Cassavetes was famed,
the result of these labors is an exhaustive and thrillingly comprehensive
peek into the life and work of the man.
|Eugene Hernandez, ifcRant
|In this definitive
work, author Ray Carney captures the director's life and craft
in his own words.... Conversations with many of the most important
figures in his lifehis wife and frequent collaborator, Gena
Rowlands, and actors Seymour Cassel and Peter Falk, among othersflesh
out the narrative and offer insight into a complex artist. 'He
could be both maddening and inspiring, both brilliant and exasperating,
childish and saintly,' Carney told us. 'That was the man I knewthe
crazy, demonic Jerry Lewis the press releases covered up.'
|Tom Charity, Film
Editor, Time Out magazine (London)
|I got my hands
on a proof copy of your book on Friday, and have been poring over
it all weekend. What can I say? It seems [in my own writing about
Cassavetes] I have innocently perpetuated more than a few myths.
I feel like having submitted an exam paper I've just been given
all the answers to. I'm staggered by the depth and detail of your
research. The book is a tremendous achievement. It absolutely
justifies your comment in the Introduction, that even a Cassavetes
buff will find something new and surprising, probably on every
page. Not only is your research in another dimension to mine, but
the portrait of the man himself has a complexity I only had glimpses
of. I think you do him justice. I can't offer higher praise than
|Alistair Owen, The
|A friend, on hearing
that I was writing this article, mused aloud: 'John Cassavetes.
Wasn't he in an episode of Columbo?' Well, yes, but before
his death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1989 at the age of just
59, he also wrote and directed a dozen movies, boasted the rare
distinction of Oscar nominations as actor, writer, and director,
and influenced several generations of independent filmmakers the
world over. Yet most audiences, if they know him at all, still
know him as the face from Columbo or Rosemary's Baby or The
Dirty Dozen, roles he only took to finance his own work. Cassavetes
paints a fascinating picture of the artist,
whose challenging work provides an essential alternative to the
mainstream. 'Now the big question is: can a picture make $100 million?'Cassavetes
once complained to an interviewer. 'If you're thinking that way,
you're not making films, you're making money. If that's what it's
come to, let the audience look at pictures of money, put money
on the screen, and then rape it, shoot it, defecate on itbecause
that's basically what everyone is doing.' That was in 1974, and
he would find even less to cheer about now.
|Gordon Flagg, Booklist
gritty, personal, albeit commercially unsuccessful films, such
as Faces, Husbands, and A Woman under the Influence, presaged
today's American independent film movement, though Cassavetes was
arguably more daring and uncompromising than, say, Tarantino or
Sayles. Editor Carney shaped more than 400 hours of conversations
with Cassavetes and extracts from previously published interviews
into a narrative of the filmmaker's early days as a New York actor
in the 1950s and his later struggles to finance and distribute
his films. Probably best known for his intense acting in other
directors' films (The Dirty Dozen, Rosemary's Baby, etc.), Cassavetes'
frustrations as an actor originally led him to direct. Thereafter,
he took most of his later roles to finance his own projects. Drawing
on interviews with dozens of Cassavetes' friends and coworkers,
Carney's extensive commentary augments the subject's remarks and
fills in details. As complete a picture of the maverick moviemaker
as we are ever likely to see.
|Lynden Barber, The
and Boston University professor of film and American studies Ray
Carney has spent 11 years compiling this exhaustive, deeply fascinating
and frequently inspiring volume on the maverick film-maker's life
and career from interviews and conversations with the subject (he
calls it the biography that Cassavetes never lived to write). His
subject was a tireless and compelling talker, barely capable of
uttering a sentence that didn't offer a challenge. Carney has also
spoken to many of the director's collaborators, family members
and friends and summarized their anecdotes, opinions and insights.
were quarried from his most private feelings and experiences,'
writes editor Ray Carney in his introduction to Cassavetes on
Cassavetes, and then illustrates his point with the writings,
interviews, and recorded conversations of a beloved cult figure....
Fans and film buffs will delight in this rare look inside the mind
of this talented, innovative and influential filmmaker.
|Gerald Peary, The
|There are two fabulous
reasons to devour the huge book cover-to-cover, as I did: for the
unordinary things that Cassavetes says, some totally nuts, some
self-deceived, many wise and inspiring; and for the extraordinary
insights into his production methods, which are beyond unorthodox,
certainly off the charts for any other director who has ever made
a film. Finishing this splendid read, I only wanted more.
|Sheila Benson, Seattle
|The voice of John
Cassavetes ... rings clear in Cassavetes on Cassavetes, as
the groundbreaking filmmaker discusses his philosophy and the tumultuous
struggles required to sustain a 'marginal' vision over a thirty-year
career. Editor Ray Carney shaped this massive, after-the-fact Q & A,
a work he calls 'the autobiography Cassavetes never lived to write.'
Out of 5,000-some pages of source material, primary and secondary.
Cassavetes has his perfect filter in film professor Carney ....
It's an enthralling, inspiring, enlightening book.
|John Gianvito, Associate
Curator, the Harvard Film Archive, Harvard University
|While of course
I've known how long you've labored over Cassavetes on Cassavetes, seen
amazing versions come and go (tossed aside altogether), and thought
I knew pretty much even what the final version might be comprised
of, to finally see it in its finished form, in all its chunky beauty,
wellas Amos Vogel once said to meif I wore a hat I'd
take it off to you. God willing this book will outlive us all and
continue year after year to find its well-worn pages in the grip
of an endless succession of film makers and writers and enthusiasts
eager to glean not just the wealth of insights delivered by John
throughout the book but even more to glean some of John's infectious
energy, his seemingly indefatigable spark and curiosity, his crazy
love pouring out on every page. Worth every ounce of energy you
expended (which goes far beyond anyone's idea of commitment to
a writing project), every gray hair and ulcer. No one else out
there could have done it, nor done it with a view as close to the
inside of the man as I imagine is obtainable. Your commentaries
are critical to the scope of the book. I thank God Faber and Faber
who, if I recall, long ago passed on this idea, have finally seen
the light. And what great pictures, Ray, fascinating all. It will
rest assured sit alongside Sculpting In Time (sit when it's
not in my lap) as one of the key books of my life. Thank you!
|Ray Carney, the
world's leading authority on Cassavetes' life and work, plumbs
the depths of Cassavetes' soul, presenting both a spiritual portrait
of the artist and a soul-searching meditation on Cassavetes' more
than half-doomed attempt to create works of art in a commercial
medium like film. Carney says his goal was to 'get beyond the press
release version' of Cassavetes' life: 'I wanted to tell the real
story of the predicament of the American film artist.... to show
what it really is like to be an artist in a business-oriented
culture like the one we live in. You read the film magazines and
watch the TV talk-shows, and they make being an 'indie' sound exotic
and glamorous and exciting, but the truth is that anyone who attempts
to make films that are more than entertainment in America is almost
certainly doomed to be neglected or reviled by newspaper and magazine
reviewers, who are almost all under the sway of Hollywood entertainment
values. Every generation fools itself and thinks that it is wiser
than its predecessors, but the next Cassavetes, the young artist
trying to do interesting things today, is in exactly the same situation
Cassavetes was. Cassavetes still has a lot to teach us.'
|Marc Savlov, The
|As the compiler
of Cassavetes' odd-job notes and scribblings, Carney does an amazing
job; he knows when to stick his nose in and clarify, or correct,
his subject's often meandering tone. (Cassavetes was an inveterate
leg-puller, too, never averse to hyperbole and garnishing the truth
when he felt it was necessary.) Carney, the dust jacket notes,
spent a decade pulling together the various sources that eventually
made up this book. Both Cassavetes and Carney are obsessive-compulsives
in their own, unique way: twin maniacs seeking that same old elusive
|Michael R. Farkash, The
Cassavetes is a must-read for anyone interested in learning
more about an American original, a filmmaker who insisted on
truth in performance and how 'ruthlessly' to get the most out
of actors. It's a primer on getting your way on a film (assuming
you're prepared to walk out). Additionally, the book amounts
to a source of inspiration for filmmakers and provides many 'don'ts'
if you want to get along with industry people.
|Dave Luhrssen, Shepherd
on Cassavetes, film professor Ray Carney assembles the story
of his subject's life and career from the many interviews the
director conducted from the '50s through his untimely death in
1989, and from Cassavetes' own scattered writings. It's as if
Carney collected the notes for an autobiography Cassavetes never
intended to write. What's helpful is Carney's cross-checking
of facts, which places the filmmaker's statements in context. Cassavetes
on Cassavetes is an interesting journey through the director's
life, from his formative Greek-American childhood through his
|Michael Koresky, Film
|Compiled from more
than ten years of research, Cassavetes on Cassavetesis
as exhaustive as Cassavetes' films are exhausting. With professional
Cassavetes enthusiast Ray Carney filling in the blanks, this (mostly)
first-person account chronicles the development of a filmmaker
determined to transcend what he deemed trendy cynicism by placing
emotions center stage.... Cassavetes reveals here why he rejected
irony and how he pushed his films to emotional extremes and devastating
catharses. There are plenty of anecdotal gems, including run-ins
with inquisitive Faces PA Steven Spielberg and the director's
vengeful theft of Pauline Kael's coat following a particularly
acerbic review. Fiercely independent in spirit, belief, and work
ethic, Cassavetes finally comes across as less a tyrannical maverick
than as an artist simply trying to get noticed.
|Jim McKay, director
of Girls Town and Our Song, in Filmmaker Magazine
|[As I directed
my own film] Ray Carney'sCassavetes on Cassavetessat by
my bedside like a bible. Late at night, while obsessing over some
concern about tomorrow's shoot, or the next day's credit-card bill,
or an upcoming meeting with a distributor, I'd open up the book
to a random page and read. Just a passage or a page, it never took
much. In those pages, I found the strength, support and spirit
to go on.... In its pages I found some of the most inspiring thoughts
about film, art and life that I'd ever read. It quickly became
the most important book on my shelf.... Sound a bit over-dramatic?
Well, if you're a filmmaker or a film fan interested in cinema
outside the Hollywood system, pick up the book for yourself and
start reading. You'll see.
|Christos Tsiolkas, Senses
|Ray Carney's work
on Cassavetes is ... an exemplary case of what the best criticism
can do: He has ensured that work too long ignored and marginalized
has been given renewed life. It is due to people like Carney, to
their personal and intellectual commitment to championing
Cassavetes' work that the director is finally receiving his due.
His is a labor of love and it shows in the writing and in the incredible
care that he has taken to record Cassavetes himself, to allow us
access to the man and his thoughts.
|Scott Wannberg, The
Road Less Traveled/Independent Review Site
|Ray Carney is a
man alone in the wilderness singing the good song, well, in this
case, the song of John Cassavetes, actor, but foremost, writer
and director. Once upon a time in the world if film, John Cassavetes
checked his rhythm, found it unable to be played in the stereo
equipment of commercial Hollywood, and embarked on film project
after film project direct from his heart/soul/nakedness. For the
most part, could not buy five seconds of light and air from distributors
and money people. That was then, as he lived, fought, sung, dreamed,
and danced. Now, that he has been gone for some years, his films
appear regularly on Independent Film Channel, and they make the
rounds [at theaters].
dig Cassavetes, dig him and don't dig him, Ray Carney's large
collection of John's own direct words will take you into yourself.
It will take you deep into the ongoing moment of love, for
his films, finally, are about love, the loss of it, the gaining
of it, self love, love of other, and the process that gets
us there. The process that is and was Cassavetes, and his family,
and his friends, for he always sought to work in the process
with family and friends. For him, the shoot was an active participatory
exploration. He would write his films (people erroneously think
his work is based in improvisation)and then constantly rewrite
on the set, after feeling his actors in their characters, for
him his characters were not locked on the page, he would let
the actors explore, take him into their search, and from that
search would come even new insight into the characters and
rewrite he would. He would also do it in the editing.
There is the
great story where the Columbia moguls were so happy with the
first cut screening of Husbands he showed them, so ecstatic
about this comedy that would garner Ben Gazzara an Oscar nod.
Then Cassavetes turned to Gazzara, and Peter Falk, after that
screening, and said, Remember what you just saw. You
will never see it that way again. To him, Husbands was
not a comedy, and he took it into the editing room and reshaped
the entire thing, and when Columbia looked at it again some
time hence they were aghast.
There is the
great Shadows Charlie Mingus riff. Cassavetes wanted
Mingus to write the score for Shadows. Mingus needed
somebody to help clean up the cat shit in his apartment. Cassavetes
sent over people to clean Mingus' place. Afterward, Mingus
was very depressed and said, I miss the cat shit. As
Cassavetes sums it up...he finally did write the score...two
years after the film was released.
Cassavetes is a director who attempted to take us into the
moment of his characters. He would have constant wars with
his crews. No masking tape, no specific Hey Actor Move
Over Into This Light. He wanted to give the actors and
their exploring first billing in the process. He would expect
his camera crew to delve into their own particular exploring
rooms and be ready to go where the actors of the piece they
were photographing began to flow toward. Technical rehearsals
would only deprive the actor from his ongoing search.
does show in the immediacy of the behavior of the people in
his films. And acting is nothing more than human behavior on
film.Cassavetes on Cassavetesis a resonant gift for
anyone you know who loves film. It is a must for anyone who
believes in the creative process.
Ray Carney is
at Boston University is fighting the long and good fight. Like
Cassavetes, he has trouble finding distributors for his material.
He tells me that the various publishers of film books have
an A list of directors that they turn to, but if the subject
of your film book is not on that list.... He did try to pitch
a book on FACES, Cassavetes' first actual film away from the
studio system after SHADOWS, but the publishers felt it wasn't
worth the effort, though they did grace him with an okay on
SHADOWS, as SHADOWS had jazz and Afro-Americans as a subject
the author of Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift: A Biography,
Ruth Orkin, and other works
|What a great, great
book you've written on John! It's just fantastic. Truly wonderful.
|JASON GARGANO in City
Beat at www.citybeat.com
Harmony Korine calls it the best film book ever written. Remarkably,
that's dangerously close to the truth. Cassavetes on Cassavetes exhaustively
examines the dilemma of moviemaking: How can an art form that relies
on so many people and so much money remain true to its creator's
original intent without ending up a compromised, watered-down piece
of studio product? This is how. Carney spent more than a decade
researching Cassavetes on Cassavetes, interviewing the
filmmaker several times and talking to virtually everyone associated
with his dozen, little-seen films. The result is a penetrating
first-person account of a man and his endless pursuit of emotional
truth. John Cassavetes believed in movies as an art form. After
reading Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes, you will too.
|A scholarly book review
by Todd Berliner, Professor of Film, the University of North Carolina
at Wilmington, printed in The Quarterly Review of Film and
Vol. 20, Issue 4 (Oct./Dec. 2003), pp. 292-295.
|When film scholar Ray
Carney asked filmmaker John Cassavetes why he turned down a deal
from Sony in the mid-1980s to release his films
on video, the filmmaker said to his future biographer and most tireless
critical champion, “You think I want to be popular? You think
I want them out on video? I want millions of people to see my movies?
Why would I?” (510). The statement, reported in Carney’s
new book, Cassavetes on Cassavetes, reflects the unorthodox values
of this elusive filmmaker, who regarded commercial success as a sign
of artistic failure, the death of creative freedom and personal integrity.
A crash course on the fiercely independent filmmaker, Cassavetes
on Cassavetes describes, largely through Cassavetes’ own
words, his ventures into personal, passionate, and commercially
self-destructive filmmaking. Carney calls his book “the autobiography
John Cassavetes never lived to write” (ix), but the book
is a better autobiography than Cassavetes would have written himself.
Always fascinated by the roughness of the creative process, Cassavetes
would have written an autobiography as disorganized and out-of-focus
as one of his films. Carney, however, has shaped a compendium of
quotations into something that reads like the story of a man’s
Until recently, critics have mostly considered Cassavetes a minor
filmmaker, and, except for Faces (1968) and A Woman
Under the Influence (1974), his films never made any money in his lifetime. But he
created some of the most original movies in American cinema and
greatly influenced many of his contemporaries (Martin Scorsese,
Peter Bogdanovich, and Elaine May, to name a few), ever since his
first film, Shadows (1959), helped to burst open the independent-filmmaking
While a lot of viewers find Cassavetes’s movies unwatchable,
he has nonetheless gathered a loyal following and some critical
praise, especially since his death in 1989. The past decade has
seen more Cassavetes film festivals than in the filmmaker’s
entire 30-year career as a director and writer of artistically
uncompromising independent films. Despite Cassavetes’s refusal
of Sony’s offer to bring out his movies on video, since his
death all his films (except for Too Late Blues  and Love
Streams ) have become available on videotape and most are
also on DVD. Those who like his movies consider him a genius, a
maverick filmmaker who did things with the cinema that no one else
has had the talent or audacity to do. The people who do not like
his movies call him self-indulgent. Most people know him only as
an actor, if they know him at all. Carney’s book attempts
to bring Cassavetes out of obscurity and into the mainstream that
eluded the filmmaker, partly by his own design, while he lived.
Unlike some of the other books in this Faber and Faber series,
Carney’s feels comprehensive as a biography, an autobiography,
and a collection of the filmmaker’s statements about his
life and art.
Cassavetes on Cassavetes describes in detail the circumstances
surrounding each of Cassavetes’s films – from their
conception, to their creation, to their distribution (or failure
to obtain distribution), to their critical and commercial reception – and
it does so mostly through quotations from Cassavetes that Carney
culled from published sources and his own personal interviews with
the filmmaker. About the “realistic” sound in his groundbreaking
Shadows, for example, Cassavetes has this to say: “We recorded
most of Shadows in a dance studio with Bob Fosse and his group
dancing above our heads. . . . So when we came out, we had Sinatra
singing upstairs, and all kinds of boom, dancing feet above us.
And that was the sound of the picture. So we spent hours, days,
weeks, months, years trying to straighten out this sound. Finally,
it was impossible and we just went with it. Well, the picture opened
in London, they said, ‘This is an innovation!’ You
know? Innovation! We killed ourselves to try to ruin that innovation!” (97).
We learn that some of the most interesting effects in Cassavetes’s
films emerged as happy accidents, a consequence of his loose shooting
style, which, unlike the rigorously premeditate Hollywood productions
that the filmmaker spurned, encouraged creativity and innovation
on the set.
At a time when it was fashionable for films to
make bold political statements, Cassavetes fashioned his own intensely
that dealt less with social issues than with relationship between
particular, idiosyncratic individuals. Both Faces and Husbands (1970) could have satirized male machismo and middle-class values,
and both received criticism for not doing so. More interested in
understanding his characters than condemning their faults, Cassavetes
always respected his creations and gave them a chance to justify
themselves. Shadows presents a scenario that could potentially
address the politics of mixed-race relationships, and A Woman
Under the Influence seems primed to condemn the institution of marriage
as oppressive to women. However, the relationships in Cassavetes’s
movies always seem too individualized to represent any institution,
his characters too singular and human to stand for their race,
their gender or their class. “I’m sure we could have
had a much more successful film,” Cassavetes said about A
Woman Under the Influence, “if the picture were rougher,
more brutal, if it made statements so that people could definitely
take sides. But along the way I’d have to look at myself
and say, ‘Yes, we were successful in creating another horror
in the world’ “ (367).
Whereas many of today’s independent filmmakers want to expose
the depravity, simplicity or ridiculousness of their characters,
Cassavetes sought to understand his characters’ complexities.
Today’s independents make mostly sardonic films – Flirting
with Disaster (1996), Happiness (1998), Your
Friends and Neighbors (1998), Election (1999), American
Movie (1999), American Psycho (2000, Best
in Show (2000), Bully (2001) or anything by the Cohen
brothers – that stand so far above their characters that
audiences have little chance to feel affection or empathy for them.
Cassavetes, however, didn’t allow us the smug pleasure of
feeling superior to characters designed so that we could feel superior
to them. “I absolutely refuse to judge the characters in
my films,” he tells us. “I refrain from leading people
by their noses by imposing a stereotyped moral vision in my work” (158).
The book shows the under-appreciated artist failing to reach even
a modestly respectable audience for some of his quixotic productions.
For instance, in its entire first run, only about 500 people saw
Opening Night (1978), perhaps Cassavetes’s best
movie and his most disastrous commercial failure. Cassavetes pronounced
film dead. “I will never play it for an audience. I will
not humiliate myself and the film by begging anyone to attend it” (432).
But rarely do we see Cassavetes give in to the disappointment that
would have stymied a less passionate or self-assured artist. His
saddest statement comes after the commercial failure of Opening
Night and after his inability to find an American distributor
for his re-edited version of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (originally
released in 1976, re-edited in 1978): “I’m prepared
to go on making pictures in my own way and hoping they’ll
relate to other people’s experience. It gets harder every
time, I can tell you. Harder to go through all the shit of setting
them up, then making them, and then, maybe, having them ignored.
. . . Anyway, I’m glad I’m not a success, because then,
though you think you have greater freedom, you in fact have a great
deal less . . . I guess I’ll stick to being a well-appreciated
Although clearly written by an affectionate
fan, the book does not refrain from revealing some of the filmmaker’s
unattractive qualities. For instance, after insisting to the principal
actors and crew of Shadows that the film belonged to them
and not to him. Cassavetes made a distribution deal with British
reduced their shares by almost 90 percent. Carney writes, “It
was a classic bait-and-switch. Cassavetes promised them the moon,
told them that he would fight anyone to the death to defend their
ownership of the film – and, once he got what he wanted from
them, made a deal that vitually cut them out” (99). The book
reveals Cassavetes’s lies to those who could help him with
his career, and the difficulty his actors had working with him
as a director, because of his manipulative treatment of them. However,
Cassavetes also emerges as an unexpectedly generous man, one who
would gladly risk his career and money for an artistically brave
project – acting in student films, helping his protégé Martin
Scorsese, giving jobs or money to friends in need.
will happily mine the book for quotations and Cassavetes
on Cassavetes will become the starting point
for anyone who wants to read or write about the filmmaker.Cassavetes
on Cassavetes is
a portrait of a man whose artistic integrity and whose pleasure in
him to a life of professional frustration. But the book shows us
that, time after time, Cassavetes willingly chose to lead exactly
the life he led. Indeed, reading Cassavetes’s own descriptions
of his “personal madness” as a filmmakers makes it
seem perfectly sensible to risk everything one owns and devote
oneself to a life of creative expression in order to become a largely
underappreciated artist and a commercial failure.
© Todd Berliner
and The Quarterly Review of Film and Video. Copyright 2003. All
rights reserved by the copyright holders.
|María Moreno El
|"Hay seres a quienes
es mejor leer que encontrar. Hay otros a quienes es mejor encontrar
que leer. Hay autores muertos que parecen tan vivos como nuestros
amigos y hay autores vivos que parecen tan muertos como el que “escribió” con
pinturas en las cavernas de Lascaux.Pero cuando el autor es realizador
cinematográfico siempre puede hacerse presente.
Entre mi escueta colección de admirables, John Cassavetes es el único
hombre al que me hubiera gustado conocer. Alguien que, habitante inaccesible
de un país lejano, y cuya lengua desconozco, me hizo amarlo en ausencia
y esfinge. Pero amarlo es un sentido más preciso que el de erotizar
su rostro estilo El Cerebro Mágico –una imagen que decoraba
un juego de ingenio de los años cincuenta–, sus cejas en forma
de acento circunflejo y sus labios cuya carne parece oponerse al ascetismo
de un esqueleto que simula estar a flor de piel. Quizá lo que amo
de él es su forma de amar a una mujer –haciéndome identificar
con ella–, a la suya propia, Gena Rowlands, a quien dirigió en
varias de sus películas (Gloria, Torrentes de amor, Minnie y Moscowitz,
Una mujer bajo influencia, por citar las que más se sostuvieron
en la carteleras de Buenos Aires). Sobre todo en Torrentes de amor, adonde él
la acompaña como actor en un vínculo lo suficientemente ambiguo
como para que el espectador ignore si los protagonistas son dos hermanos
o dos ex amantes. ¿Un chiste privado entre los integrantes de un
matrimonio de larga data? En esa película, John parece decir: el
enamorado es animista a su modo; el dolor de amar se materializa allí,
en el interior del cuerpo, en el océano de la sangre, de sus ríos
adonde –según la filosofía hematológica– cada
ser es único a pesar de sentirse intoxicado totalmente por el otro.
El amor no podría alojarse en las vísceras (continentes bajos),
ni siquiera en el cerebro y en el corazón, que deben estar regados
por la sangre para conservar su función mítica. El amor es
un torrente... sanguíneo. Las metáforas son precisas y vienen
de lejos: “lo escribiré con sangre”, “me has herido”, “quisiera
abrir lentamente mis venas”, “El torrente para”, le dice
el psiquiatra a Sarah Lawson (Torrentes de amor). Ella le dice que no,
que no es posible. Si el torrente pasa, ya no queda aire en los pulmones,
ni pensamiento en la mente, el cauce está seco. John suele filmar
a Gena como una loca de amor, pero no desde el lugar de la ilegítima
o de la amante sino de la esposa, de alguien que sostiene el amor al extremo,
el derecho a vivir como desollada viva o enhebrando uno tras otro momentos
supremos en el interior de la familia: Sarah Lawson y Mabel Longhetti (Una
mujer bajo influencia) oscilan entre el hogar y el manicomio. John sugiere
que la pasión no se opone a la familia, y además filma con
parientes propios y de su esposa. Gena a veces trabaja en compañía
de su madre Lady Rowlands y de su hermano David. Lady Rowlands es la madre
de Minnie en Minnie y Moscowitz y de la de Mabel Longhetti en Una mujer
bajo influencia; su hijo, el psiquiatra de Sarah interpretado por Gena
en Torrentes de amor, donde Alejandra Cassavetes es la corista del bar
nocturno. Otros nombres familiares insisten en los créditos de las
películas de Cassavetes, sus primos (los Papamichael), Diana y Margaret
Abbot, los Gazzara, los Cassel. Katherine Cassavetes es la madre de Nick
(Peter Falk) en Una mujer bajo influencia. John trabaja con los de su sangre
en una mezcla de tragedia griega y magia italiana. También ha dicho
a menudo –y sus personajes– que toda mujer tiene un secreto
y que lo interesante es que ella lo entregue voluntariamente.
“ Yo no dirijo a los actores”, se jactaba. Es cierto: era un amo
más feroz, quería enfrentarlos con quienes son, hacer emerger sus
deseos más ocultos. Quizá porque difícilmente las mujeres
reales entreguen su secreto o mientan, esto le sirvió para seguir filmando.
Para el común de la gente, la mujer con más secretos es la que
pasea por la ciudad con todos sus despojos hogareños en un changuito,
envuelta en una frazada, sin lugar a donde volver. Poco antes de morir, John
Cassavetes escribió una obra de teatro titulada A Woman of Mistery. Es
sobre una de esas mujeres sin techo. Lleva dos valijas con sus cosas, camina.
Le dio el papel a Gena como si le anticipara: “Muerto el jefe de familia
y con una casa inestable, ¿qué te queda sino la calle?”.
Una muchacha llamada Georgi conoce a la mujer misteriosa y afirma que ésta
es su madre, quien la habría abandonado al nacer. La ama y como si el
amor fuera contagioso (y lo es): un hombre y luego otro se enamoran de la homeless.
Al igual que en los cuentos de hadas, ésta pasa de la calle y los andrajos
a una velada de gala en donde luce un vestido de satén negro. A la larga,
Georgi probará que su certeza no es una ilusión. Pero esta mujer,
la mujer misteriosa, no puede retribuirle su amor. En la última escena
vuelve a estar sola con sus valijas. En la calle, John le ofrece así a
Gena la profecía de una resurrección, a la manera de la familia,
por el reencuentro con un lazo de sangre. También le profetiza que, muerto él,
ya no sabrá amar. Pero, mediante una transacción, la libera: en
realidad, la última escena no prescribe la soledad sino la continuidad
del misterio. Como si dijera: “Si se nos ha amado, se nos volverá a
É se es mi tipo.
|Steve Buscemi, actor
in Fargo, Trees Lounge, and Pulp
Fiction, and other films
|Thanks so much
for theCassavetes on Cassavetesbook. I'm really enjoying
it and getting a fuller picture and a less romanticized notion
of who he was. It's fascinating stuff. You deserve the highest
praise for keeping the flame going.
|Peter Falk, the star
of Husbands and A Woman Under
|Thank God for Ray
Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes. It captures the man I
knewthe most vivid, colorful, intriguing, infuriating, fertile,
man, child, artist, actor, friend. It's all there. The passion,
the craziness, the complexity, the mystery. There'll never be another
like him. It's a terrific book.
|Ben Gazzara, the star
of Husbands and The Killing of
a Chinese Bookie
|What a great gift
you've given to young filmmakers everywhere. Your book, Cassavetes
on Cassavetes, made me miss him even more. I didn't think it
|Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes'
wife and the star of Faces, Minnie and Moskowitz, A
Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night, Gloria, and Love
to know this book exists. Many thanks for your devotion to John.
ordinary (and not so ordinary) peoplereviews posted on Amazon.com:
|Arch-i: My Way
Ray Carney's done
a great service to film fans by bringing Cassavetes' scattered
talks and interviews together into a coherent statement on art.
Carney shows how Cassavetes' whole process of filmmaking was
tied to his outlook on life. Combative, spontaneous and deliberately
amateur, he aimed for situations where writer, actor and viewer
are all left without direction, forced to respond to the story
as individuals rather than reach for pre-approved 'social codes'.
He savagely edited his films to defy audience expectations, usually
rejecting versions that the studios, his collaborators and even
his wife liked best. Some of Cassavetes' statements made me wonder
if he did this to edit some part of himself--the Greek immigrant
son made good, with the blonde wife and kids and Hollywood home.
In some ways he was an insider desperate to stay on the outside.
Conflict was fun for him, he thought America needed more of it,
and the messy collaborative 'families' he built around each film
were his alternative to the button-down corporate society he
fought against all his life.
As Carney presents
him, Cassavetes wasn't out for the money, the glory, the ego
or ultimately maybe even the art. He wanted fun, he wanted
friends and he wanted people to really live as individuals.
Are there folks like this around anymore? We need them more
|Go man van Gogh: Possibly
the best book about any director
|My half-hearted browser's
interest in Cassavetes needed a kick in the seat of the pants,
I now realize, and reading this book shows me how much I failed
to appreciate him while we were lucky enough to have him around.
The format is eye-opening. Cassavetes speaks, and then the author.
The constantly shifting P.O.V., and the frisson between the truth
Cassavetes himself presented, and the unvarnished truth as discovered
by the author, makes this book constantly stimulating and endlessly
Cassavetes life and films are worth a serious look-see --
and this book is an EXCELLENT place to begin that-- if only
because he is that rare individual who absolutely refused to
accept mediocrity in himself and others, both as an artist
and a committed liver of life. He went for the burn every time
out, and could often be an ornery s.o.b. when he detected that
people were simply going through the motions in their life
or art. (The book is rife with anecdotes that literally make
you wince and leave you wondering "Could I have long tolerated
this behavior in a friend or family member?") He seems
never to have thought "I'd better not burn my bridges
here", or practiced any of the other forms of incremental,
over-thought cowardice that most of us do.
Cassavetes was driven like no one else; he never made a lazy,
easy commercial film. He let his life and films commingle,
letting the cameras roll for hours, shooting thousands of feet
more film than he could use, afterward sculpting it into a
shape that could be released. (He said film stock was the one
part of his film making on which he would never scrimp.) His
films were, probably more than any other director's, explorations
Cassavetes lived life
so completely that it might be truthful to say he did something
the average person would call foolhardy nearly every day of
his life, in some way or other. But in spite of this, or because
of it, it's impossible to come away from this book without
an awakened admiration for him.
|Tom Stamper, Orlando,
|A Great Interview
Book! If you're intrigued at all by the work of John Cassavetes, this
book is well worth your time. The book itself is a collection of interviews
Cassavetes gave through his entire life, edited into chapters that
correspond to the movies he talked about. The excerpts themselves
are pretty interesting, but it is author Ray Carney's commentary in
between quotes that really makes this book worthwhile. Carney gives
us the back story, and fills in the missing parts, but he also sets
things straight when John rambles into fiction. It's easy to see that
Cassavetes liked to talk about his work. There are over 500 pages
on roughly a dozen films. ... John Cassavetes' passion for making
movies shines through in this volume. Ray Carney's insight tells the
rest of the story. If you are interested in independent film making,
this book is a must.
|Truly inspirational! Ray
Carney's "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" is a wonderful introduction
to Cassavetes' work. I found it to be a great read - amazingly free
of academic jargon or fancy terminology. It was hard to put down!
And with incredible photos of the wild-man at work. A must for every
fan of indie film as well as aspiring directors and artists - and
also for students of life! If you want to know even more, I'd also
recommend Ray Carney's massive web site devoted to Cassavetes and
indie film. Any search engine will take you there. It has wonderful
behind-the-scenes information about the making of Cassavetes' work.
If you want a volume to provide ongoing daily inspiration and encouragement
regarding the artistic process, buy this book. It is a book you will
go back to again and again and again...
|A reader from New
|A fascinating look
at America's most advanced filmmaker. A superb autobiography pieced
together from spoken interviews. Carney neither fawns over Cassavetes,
nor does he paint an unqualified portrait of a dark, tortured soul
(as most artist biographies tend to do). Instead, Carney gives
us insight into a new type of artistic genius, one whose life may
not have been rife with passionate love affairs and bouts of madness,
but was nevertheless rich and intense. A man whose artistic goal
was not to tap the furthest depths of his soul, but instead to
revel in the sheer awkwardness, goofiness, and comedy of lived
experience. An eye-opening experience.
|Scott Berman, Los
treasure. Ray Carney has done it again: years of research have
culminated in a wonderful examination of Cassavetes, by Cassavetes:
his life and work. Carney's take on the important independent filmmakerhis
mischief, guts, growth, and ups and downsare to me, an inspiration.
You get a deep look here at a way of living, working, and risking
that is not about ambition, power, or money, as is so overwhelmingly
the case in the American film industry and other walks of life.
Carney carefully lets Cassavetes tell the story in his own words,
chronologically following the director's experiences from his childhood
to his early career struggles to his groundbreaking independent
films. There is much new information.
family and love are front and center: these were so deeply
important to Cassavetes and were primary themes in his films.
I also take away from this experiencebecause that is
what this book is to me a new inspiration to try to find
a way to live and work that places things like security, conformity,
and even acceptance in a more healthy perspective.
the arts, film theory or technique, criticism, or just personal
or professional growth should read this book. It is a delightful,
consciousness-shifting walk through another way to be creative
and just to be.
Ray Carney, CASSAVETES
on CASSAVETES Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Faber and Faber (ISBN 0-57120-157-1)
German, Spanish, and Japanese language-editions already sold.
Carney's Books, Essays, and Program Notes on Cassavetes
Ray Carney, Cassavetes
on Cassavetes (Faber and Faber in London, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux
in New York), copiously illustrated, paperback, approximately 550 pages.
Available directly from the author for $25.
on Cassavetes is the autobiography John Cassavetes never lived to
write. It tells an extraordinary saga – thirty years of film history, chronicling
the rise of the American independent movement – as it was lived by
one of its pioneers and one of the most important artists in the history of
the medium. The struggles, the triumphs, the crazy dreams and frustrations
are all here, told in Cassavetes' own words. Cassavetes on Cassavetes
tells the day-by-day story of the making of some of the greatest and most
original works of American film. —from the "Introduction:
John Cassavetes in His Own Words"
Click here to access a detailed description of the book and a summary
of the topics covered in it.
* * *
Cassavetes on Cassavetes
is available in the United States through Amazon
and Noble, and in England through Amazon
and Faber (UK). It is also available at your local bookseller, or,
for a limited time, directly from the author (in discounted, specially
autographed editions) for $25 via this web site. See
below for information how to order this book directly from this web site
by money order, check, or credit card (using PayPal).
* * *
Ray Carney, The Films
of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies
(New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 48 illustrations,
paperback, 322 pages. This book is available directly from the author
The Films of John Cassavetes tells the inside story of the making
of six of Cassavetes' most important works: Shadows, Faces,
Minnie and Moskowitz, A Woman under the Influence, The
Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Love Streams.
With the help of almost fifty
previously unpublished photographs from the private collections of Sam
Shaw and Larry Shaw, and excerpts from interviews with the filmmaker and
many of his closest friends, the reader is taken behind the scenes to
watch the maverick independent at work: writing his scripts, rehearsing
his actors, blocking their movements, shooting his scenes, and editing
them. Through words and pictures, Cassavetes is shown to have been a deeply
thoughtful and self-aware artist and a profound commentator.
This iconoclastic, interdisciplinary
study challenges many accepted notions in film history and aesthetics.
Ray Carney argues that Cassavetes' films participate in a previously unrecognized
form of pragmatic American modernism that, in its ebullient affirmation
of life, not only goes against the world-weariness and despair of many
twentieth-century works of art, but also places his works at odds with
the assumptions and methods of most contemporary film criticism.
Cassavetes' films are provocatively
linked to the philosophical writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James,
and John Dewy, both as an illustration of the artistic consequences of
a pragmatic aesthetic and as an example of the challenges and rewards
of a life lived pragmatically. Cassavetes' work is shown to reveal stimulating
new ways of knowing, feeling, and being in the world.
This book is available through Amazon,
and Noble, your local bookseller, or, for a limited time, directly
from the author (in discounted, specially autographed editions).
See below for information how
to order this book directly from the author by money order, check, or
Clicking on the above links
will open a new window in your browser. You may return to this page by
closing that window or by clicking on the window for this page again.
* * *
For reviews and critical responses
to The Films of John Cassavetes, please click
here. (Use your back button to return.)
* * *
Ray Carney, John Cassavetes:
The Adventure of Insecurity
(Boston: Company C Publishing, 1999), 25 illustrations, paperback, 68
pages. This book is available directly from the author for $15.
essays on all of the major films, including Shadows,
Faces, Husbands, Minnie and Moskowitz,
A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese
Bookie, Opening Night, and Love Streams
previously unknown information about Cassavetes' life and working
new, previously unpublished interview with Ray Carney about
Cassavetes the person
about life and art by Cassavetes
illustrated with more than two dozen behind-the-scenes photographs
here to access a detailed description of the book.
This book is available through
and Noble, your local bookseller, or, for a limited time, directly
from the author (in discounted, specially autographed editions).
See below for information how
to order this book directly from the author by money order, check, or
Clicking on the above links
will open a new window in your browser. You may return to this page by
closing that window or by clicking on the window for this page again.
* * *
Ray Carney, Shadows (BFI
Film Classics, ISBN: 0-85170-835-8),
88 pages. This book is available directly from the author
via this web site for $20.
"Ray Carney is
a tireless researcher who probably knows more about the shooting of
Shadows than any other living being, including Cassavetes when
he was alive, since Carney, after all, has the added input of ten
or more of the films participants who remember their own unique
versions of the reality we all shared."Maurice
McEndree, producer and editor of Shadows
is fortunate to have such a diligent champion. I am absolutely dumbfounded
by the depth of your research into this film.... Your appendix...is
a definitive piece of scholarly detective work.... The Robert Aurthur
revelation is another bombshell and only leaves me wanting to know more....
The book movingly captures the excitement and dynamic Cassavetes discovered
in filmmaking; and the perseverance and struggle of getting it up there
on the screen."Tom
Charity, Film Editor, Time Out magazine
John Cassavetes Shadows is
generally regarded as the start of the independent feature movement
in America. Made for $40,000 with a nonprofessional cast and crew and
borrowed equipment, the film caused a sensation on its London release
The film traces the lives
of three siblings in an African-American family: Hugh, a struggling
jazz singer, attempting to obtain a job and hold onto his dignity;
Ben, a Beat drifter who goes from one fight and girlfriend to another;
and Lelia, who has a brief love affair with a white boy who turns on
her when he discovers her race. In a delicate, semi-comic drama of
self-discovery, the main characters are forced to explore who they
are and what really matters in their lives.
Shadows ends with the
title card "The film you have just seen was an improvisation," and
for decades was hailed as a masterpiece of spontaneity, but shortly
before Cassavetes death, he confessed to Ray Carney something
he had never before revealed – that much of the film was scripted. He
told him that it was shot twice and that the scenes in the second version
were written by him and Robert Alan Aurthur, a professional Hollywood
screenwriter. For Carney, it was Cassavetes Rosebud. He spent
ten years tracking down the surviving members of the cast and crew, and
piecing together the true story of the making of the film.
Carney takes the reader behind
the scenes to follow every step in the making of the movie – chronicling
the hopes and dreams, the struggles and frustrations, and the ultimate
triumph of the collaboration that resulted in one of the seminal masterworks
of American independent filmmaking.
Highlights of the presentation
are more than 30 illustrations (including the only existing photographs
of the dramatic workshop Cassavetes ran in the late fifties and of the
stage on which much of Shadows was shot, and a still showing a
scene from the "lost" first version of the film); and statements by many
of the film's actors and crew members detailing previously unknown events
during its creation.
One of the most interesting and original aspects of the book is a nine-page Appendix that "reconstructs" much of the lost first version of the film for the first time. The Appendix
points out more than 100 previously unrecognized differences between the
1957 and 1959 shoots, all of which are identified in detail both by the
scene and the time at which they occur in the current print of the movie
(so that they may be easily located on videotape or DVD by anyone viewing
By comparing the two versions,
the Appendix allows the reader to eavesdrop on Cassavetes' process of
revision and watch his mind at work as he re-thought, re-shot, re-edited
his movie. None of this information, which Carney spent more than five
years compiling, has ever appeared in print before (and, as the presentation
reveals, the few studies that have attempted to deal with this issue prior
to this are proved to have been completely mistaken in their assumptions).
The comparison of the versions and the treatment of Cassavetes' revisionary
process is definitive and final, for all time.
This book is
available through University
of California Press at Berkeley, Amazon, Barnes
and Noble, and in England through Amazon (UK)
British Film Institute. For a limited time, the Shadows book
is also available directly from the author (in discounted, specially
autographed editions) via this web site. See
information below on how to order this book directly from the author
by money order, check, or credit card (PayPal).
Clicking on the
above links will open a new window in your browser. You may return
to this page by closing that window or by clicking on the window for
this page again.
For reviews and
critical responses to Ray Carney's book on the making of Shadows,
Ray Carney, American
Dreaming: The Films of John Cassavetes and the American Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). $20.
[From the original
dust jacket description:] John Cassavetes is known to millions of filmgoers
as an actor who has appeared in Rosemary’s Baby, The
Dirty Dozen, Whose Life Is It, Anyway?, Tempest,
and many other Hollywood movies. But what is less known is that Cassavetes
acts in these films chiefly in order to finance his own unique independent
productions. Over the past 25 years, working almost entirely outside
the Hollywood establishment, Cassavetes has written, directed, and
produced ten extraordinary films. They range from romantic comedies
like Shadows and Minnie and Moskowitz to powerful,
poignant domestic dramas like Faces and A Woman Under
the Influence to unclassifiable emotional extravaganzas like Husbands, The Killing
of a Chinese Bookie, and Gloria.
This is the first
book-length study ever devoted to this controversial and iconoclastic
filmmaker. It is the argument of American Dreaming that Cassavetes
has single-handedly produced the most stunningly original and important
body of work in contemporary film. Raymond Carney examines Cassavetes’ life
and work in detail, traces his break with Hollywood, and analyzes the
cultural and bureaucratic forces that drove him to embark on his maverick
career. Cassavetes work is considered in the context of other twentieth-century
forms of traditional and avant-garde expression and is provocatively
contrasted with the better-known work of other American and European
of John Cassavetes that emerges in these pages is of an inspiringly
idealistic American dreamer attempting to beat the system and keep
alive his dream of personal freedom and individual expression – just
as the characters in the films excitingly try to keep alive their middle-class
dreams of love, freedom, and self-expression in the hostile emotional
and familial environments in which they function. His films are chronicles
of the yearnings, desires, and frustrations of the American dream.
He is America’s truest historian of the inevitable conflict between the ideals and the realities of the American experience.
far the most thorough, ambitious, and far-reaching criticism of Cassavetes'
work has been accomplished by Raymond Carney, currently Professor of
Film and American Studies at Boston University. Carney wrote the first
book-length study of Cassavetes, who languished in critical obscurity
until the publication of Carney's American Dreaming in 1985....
In Carney's view, to settle the accounts of our lives, to decide once
and for all, is, for Cassavetes, to tumble headlong into the abyss
of nonentity upon which we incessantly verge. Carney argues that Cassavetes
has re-invented the craft of filmmaking in ways that drastically alter
our casual habits of film viewing. To adapt William James' terminology
(which Carney is indebted to) Cassavetes' works are concerned less
with the events and finished episodes that make up the 'substantive' parts
of our experience and more with the moments of insecurity, the 'transitive' slippages
during which our habitual strategies for understanding and stabilizing
our relationships with ourselves and others cease to function in any
useful way.... Carney's work with Cassavetes, placed within the context
of his later book, American Vision, on Frank Capra, can be viewed as
an attempt not only to further the understanding of American film,
but to forge a new synthesis of understanding in American Studies,
making his critical works valuable not only to film scholars, but to
students of American culture generally." — Lucio
Benedetto, PostScript Magazine
Dreaming: The Films of John Cassavetes and the American Experience (Berkeley,
California: University of California Press, 1985), the first book
ever written about Cassavetes' life and work, in any language.
It has long been out of print but is now newly available through
this web site for $20 in a Xerox of the original edition. You
may order with a credit card through PayPal or through the mail
with a money order. See below.
* * *
two packets of Ray Carney's writings on John Cassavetes (material
not included in any of the above books) are also specially available
through this web site. These packets contain the texts of many of
his notes and
essays about the filmmaker. Each packet is available for $15.00.
Essays on the Life and Work of John Cassavetes (a packet of
essays by Ray Carney previously published in magazines, newspapers,
and periodicals and now unavailable). Approximately 130 pages.
bound packet of Ray Carney's writings on John Cassavetes is specially
available only through this web site. The packet has the complete texts
of program notes and essays about Cassavetes that were published by
Ray Carney in a variety of film journals and general interest periodicals
between 1989 and the present. It contains more than fifteen separate
pieces – including the keynote essay commissioned by the Sundance
Film Festival for their retrospective of Cassavetes' work at the time
of his death as well as the memorial piece on Cassavetes awarded a
prize by The Kenyon Review as "one of the best essays of the
year by a younger author."
This packet also
contains the text Ray Carney contributed to the "Special John
Cassavetes Issue" of PostScript edited
by Ray Carney, including "A Polemical Introduction: The Road Not
Taken," "Seven Program Notes from the American Tour of the
Complete Films: Faces, Minnie and Moskowitz, Woman
Under the Influence,
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Love Streams."
Essays on the Life and Work of John Cassavetes is not for
sale in any store, and available exclusively on this web site for $15.00
under the same credit payment terms or at the same mailing address
as the other offers.
Issue: John Cassavetes." PostScript: Essays in Film and
the Humanities Vol. 11 Number 2 (Winter 1992). Guest editor:
Ray Carney $10.
113 double-column pages (50,000 words).
A memorial tribute
to the life and work of John Cassavetes. Essays by Ray Carney, George
Kouvaros, Janice Zwierzynski, and Carole Zucker. Interviews with Al
Ruban and Seymour Cassel by Maria Viera. A history of the critical
appreciation of Cassavetes' work and a bibliography of writing in English
by Lucio Benedetto. The issue is illustrated with more than 40 behind-the-scenes
photos of Cassavetes and his actors and contains many personal statements
by him about his life and work.
This issue includes
eight essays by Ray Carney about Cassavetes' life and work: "A
Polemical Introduction: The Road Not Taken," and "Seven Program
Notes from the American Tour of the Complete Films, about Faces, Minnie
and Moskowitz, Woman Under the Influence, The Killing
of a Chinese Bookie, and Love Streams." But note
that Ray Carney's contributions to the special Cassavetes issue of PostScript magazine
are also available as part of the packet, The Collected Essays
on the Life and Work of John Cassavetes, which contains many other
pieces by Prof. Carney as well. The Collected Essays packet is listed separately above at a price of $15. But if you would like a Xerox copy
of the entire PostScript magazine issue (which includes the
other additional material by the other authors listed above), the PostScript issue
is available separately for $10. You may order it with a credit card
through PayPal or through the mail with a money order. See the instructions
a packet comparing the two versions of Shadows is available: A
Detective Story – Going Inside the Heart and Mind of the Artist:
A Study of Cassavetes' Revisionary Process in the Two Versions of
Available direct from the author through this site for $15.
This packet contains the following
material (most of which was not included in the BFI Shadows book):
- An introductory essay about
the two versions of the film
- A table noting the minute-by-minute,
shot-by-shot differences in the two prints. (In the British Film Institute
book on Shadows, this table appears in a highly abridged, edited
version, at less than half the length and detail presented here.)
- A conjectural reconstruction
of theshot sequence in the 1957 print
- A shot list for the 1959
re-shoot of the film
- The credits exactly as presented
in the film (including typographical and orthographical vagaries indicating
Cassavetes' view of the importance of various contributors)
- An expanded and corrected credit listing that includes previous uncredited actors and appearances (e.g. Cassavetes in a dancing sequence; Gena Rowlands in a chorus girl sequence; and Danny Simon and Gene Shepherd in the nightclub sequence)
- Notes about the running
times of both versions and information about dates and places of early
- A bibliography of suggested
additional reading (including a note about serious mistakes in previous
treatments of the film by other authors)
Very little of
this material was included in the BFI book on Shadows due to limitations
on space. This 85-page (25,000 word) packet is not for sale in any store
and is available exclusively through this site for $15.
The five books, two packets,
and issue of PostScript magazine may be obtained directly from the author, by using the Pay Pal
Credit Card button below, or by sending a check or money order to the
address below. However you order the book or books, please provide the
- Your name and address
- The title of the book you
- Whether you would like an
inscription or autograph on the inside front cover
Checks or money orders may
be mailed to:
Special Book Offer
College of Communication
640 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
you can buy Ray Carney's works online using Visa or MasterCard.
If you pay by credit card using the PayPal button, please note in
the item description or comments section of the order form the exact
title of the item or items you are ordering (be specific, since
many items have similar titles), as well as any preferences you
may have about an autograph or inscription and the name or nickname
you would like to have on the inscription.
If you are confused by the PayPal form, or unsure where to enter
this information, you may simply make your credit card payment that
way, and separately email me (at the address below) any and all
information about what item you are ordering, and what inscription
or name you would like me to write on it, or any other details about
your purchase. I will respond promptly.
The PayPal form has a place for you to indicate the number of items
you want (if you want more than one of any item), as well as your
If you place your order and send your payment by mail, please include
a sheet of paper with the same information on it. I am glad to do
custom inscriptions to friends or relatives, as long as you provide
all necessary information, either on the PayPal form, in a separate
email to me, or by regular mail. (Though I cannot take credit card
information by mail; PayPal is the only way I can do that.)
If you want to order other items from other pages, and are using
the PayPal button, you may combine several items in one order and
have your total payment reflect the total amount, or you may order
other items separately when you visit other pages. Since there is
no added shipping or handling charge (shipping in the US is free),
you will not be penalized for ordering individual items separately
in separate orders. It will cost exactly the same either way.
These instructions apply to American shipments only. Individuals
from outside the United States should email me and inquire about
pricing and shipping costs for international shipments.
Clicking on PayPal opens
a separate window in your browser so that this window and the information
in it will always be available for you to consult before, during,
and after clicking on the PayPal button. After you have completed
your PayPal purchase and your order has been placed, you will automatically
be returned to this page. If, on the other hand, you go to the PayPal
page and decide not to complete your order, you may simply close
the PayPal window at any point and this page should still be visible
in a window underneath it.
If you have questions,
comments, or problems, or if you would like to send me additional
information about your order, please feel free to email me
(Note: Due to the extremely high volume of my email correspondence,
thousands of emails a week, and the diabolical ingenuity of
Spammers, be sure to use a distinctive subject heading in
anything you send me. Do NOT make your subject line read "hi"
or "thanks" or "for your information"
or anything else that might appear to be Spam or your message
will never reach me. Use the name of a filmmaker or the name
of a familiar film or something equally distinctive as your
subject line. That is the only way I will know that your message
was not automatically generated by a Spam robot.)
to access the PayPal site? If you are having difficulty, it
is generally because you are using an outdated or insecure
here for help and information about how to check your
browser's security level or update it if necessary.