by John Cassavetes
Dear Mr. Carney,
I realize that
you must be extremely busy as it is summer. I hope that you
are enjoying yourself and reaping the rewards of all the hard
work that you have invested into your life. I have already
emailed you once, thus I will not repeat myself. I am emailing
you to ask a very specific question. Being that you are the
world’s expert on John Cassavetes, I was wondering if
you could tell me when Husbands will be released
on DVD? Try as I might, I cannot find a copy of this work
on DVD. Being that it is my favorite work of his, I thought
you might know.
I don't remember the earlier query. I get so many. As to your
question: Husbands has not been released on DVD.
Your guess is as good as mine as to when it will be. No one
has contacted me about it. When it finally is done, I hope
it is at least the whole film. The VHS has ten minutes missing,
as does the UCLA "restored" print. (Click here to hear the audio of twelve minutes that were cut at the end of the singing scene and the beginning of the men's room scene in Husbands.) That's not a
very good start. Of course, if Gena or the estate has any
control over the release, I'll be kept as far away from it
as possible. (And abandon hope of the novel ever accompanying
it. She's doing her best to prevent that from ever seeing
the light of day. And it is amazing.) All of this is covered
already on my web site.
I just wanted to tell you about my poor-excuse-for-a website
that I've been "building" for about a year now.
It's nothing too special. No films posted or anything. But
it puts me within a network of thousands of people, so I've
gotten over a thousand hits thusfar, which isn't too bad for
a person trying to reach people. Much of it is rather silly
(especially the home page), but there are "blogs"
posted there that you might find somewhat interesting to take
a look at here and there.
I just posted a little mini-manifesto regarding art vs. entertainent
and art vs. political activism, social work and charity. I
argue that America needs to start viewing its mental (or,
perhaps, spiritual) health as being more important than its
physical health, which means someone like the Surgeon General
should take action and start making Hollywood put disclaimers
at the beginning of its movies/television programs that warns
people of mental atrophy and passive complacency. I also discuss
how people need to start viewing spiritual poverty as being
more grave a situation than financial poverty, and also how
the key to solving financial poverty (in our nation and in
places like the third world) is in first helping spiritual
poverty. There are many, many more things discussed as well.
So, anyway, I just wanted to give you the link in case you
were interested in checking it out.
Hope your summer's going well,
PS - If you read the comments after the blogs, there are responses
from people and also some after-thoughts that I added myself.
too modest in the first paragraph above, but I like the wit
of the second paragraph. America is a sick society in many
ways and soul-sickness is at least as bad as--or worse than--physical
sickness. I recommend your site to my readers.
Had you heard about
Nick Cassavetes and Brett Ratner's varied attempts to remake
"The Killing of a Chinese Bookie"? Through rather
devious tactics, I've recently come across a draft script
by Nick Cassavetes.
What remains of
the original work is the plot, and plot alone. On a superficial
level, the story has been shifted to take place in Miami,
and Cosmo is now called Sonny. (Get it - Sonny...
Yeah.) On a deeper level, the script couldn't stand any more
at odds with John Cassavete's original vision. It revels in
gangster-lingo, big money and drugs, glamorizing the whole
affair. Nick explicates everything, flattening out the strangeness
that made the original what it is. It's "Chinese Bookie"
as re- written by the 'gangsters'.
How peculiar, to
see the son completely prostituting the father's work, all
the while sincerely believing he's honoring its spirit. Fortunately,
Nick Cassavetes and Brett Ratner aborted the project long
ago. Ratner apparently felt it more pertinent to make "Rush
Hour 2" with Jackie Chan. Word is that Nick is now directing
the comic book movie "Iron Man." Yeesh.
If you'd like a
copy of the script, let me know. It's really something to
behold, not to mention a piece of bizzaro-Cassavetes memorabilia.
What's your current
status with the "Shadows" first-version controversy?
Where does everything stand, and how are you feeling about
it? Now that you've had time to study it, just how different
is this version?
Would it be possible
for another person, say, a celebrity of supposed import who
knew the Cassavetes family well, to resolve the situation
and get the film released? Have you attempted to directly
contact any such person? I'm well aware of your contempt for
celebrity status and influence, but I suppose getting the
film into the hands of the public, as well as getting Gena
Rowlands off your back, is priority number one.
It strikes me that
Xan Cassavetes would be glad to see the film, given her pension
for film restoration, "Z Channel," etc. Any chance
of getting through to her?
I have several
possible candidates in mind whom I would be glad to contact
to help mediate, but I'd certainly want to know your feelings
on the matter first.
Let me know.
for the info. But don't be too hard on Nick. We can't really
demand that it be "like father, like son." And,
in any case, genius is not hereditary.
to a "celebrity mediator:" Someday I'll tell you
my "Martin Scorsese story." But this is neither
the time nor the place.
mediation is not the way to go anyway. As I told JC once near
the end of his life: I'm in this for eternity. It's not a
short term investment, but a 1000-year bond. So if Shadows
I (the first version) is not seen in my lifetime,
so what? It will keep. All good things do. Only places like
"Entertainment Tonight" and "Extra" and
"Access Hollywood" care about the present passing
haste. (I'm still hiding out in a farmhouse trying to finish
two books--between emails I mean.)
Subject: Your site
+ Robert Kramer
I am a French documentary
filmmaker, 32 years old and just discovered your site. I write
you because I want to tell you: thank you!
Reading your articles
in this site was very helpful for me because you help me to
put words when I cannot find them, to discover filmmakers
I never heard about (Charles Burnett particularly), and to
understand many things about filmmaking. Your articles were
also very encouraging to continue in my work, to always try
to go deeper.
When I began filmmaking,
I was lucky to meet Robert Kramer, a few weeks before he passed
away, and he helped me very much : not only did he give me
some advice for my film, but he also introduced me to Richard
Copans, who produced my two first films.
The first film
I made was about Vietnamese war cameramen (you understand
why I went to see Mr Kramer!). The second one deals with my
father, a former communist who spent 8 years in prison, in
Egypt. He is a Jew and all his comrades were/are Muslims.
I can never forget
Robert and I am so eager to read what you will write about
this wonderful man and filmmaker in your site!
PS : I hope you
will forgive my bad English.
for your kind words! I really appreciate them.
was a great-souled artist and friend. I loved him dearly.
I knew him for many years and was lucky enough to spend time
with him in Turin, Italy only a short time before his death.
I miss him. Did you know a retrospective of his work is planned
to take place in Paris in February?
that the site contains only a tiny portion of my work. Be
sure to check out the books and packets and essays I have
written. Many are for sale on the site but if that is inconvenient
for you to obtain them that way, you can find many of them
in bookstores and libraries. Since you are a filmmaker, I
highly recommend my Cassavetes on Cassavetes. It
has not been published in a French translation (if you know
of anyone interested in doing that, tell them to write me!),
but even the English version would be very inspiring to read,
best wishes. Stay in touch and let me know what you are doing
from time to time!
note from Ray Carney: A
good friend sent me the following. I recommend the link (And,
of course, don't forget Robert's movies: Ice, Milestones,
Route One, Starting Place, and all the others.....
I often show them in my classes. They are among the many neglected,
unknown masterworks of American film. It takes the French
to appreciate them.)
I saw the newest letter on p. 28 and decided to look up Robert
Kramer on the Internet. Found this neat piece - A Letter to
Bob Dylan - have you seen it? His daughter Keja found it last
year on his computer and gave permission for it to be printed.
i m writeing from
Zagreb, Croatia. I have a small problem and i hope you could
help me with it. I m planing to do a Cassavetes retrospective
here in Zagreb this or at the begining of the next year, but
cant find distributors for some films. Most of them are on
Castle Hill but i cant find Husbands or Love Streams. Most
of the people here havent seen this two films and i m very
mich interested in showing them, i never saw them also. People
in Croatia have lost intrest for his films in the past two
decades and there hasent been any writeing on them since the
end of the 80s. I was hopeing that you could send me some
contacts or direct me to someone. I appriciate your work wery
much and everything you did for reviveing the intrest for
his films is just great. You ve mouved a lot of people by
Student centre Zagreb
am sorry that I can't help with locating 35mm prints of those
two films. They are hardly even available in the US! I don't
know why they have fallen out of circulation, but I can tell
you that it appears that: (1) since Cassavetes did not personally
own them - the way he owned the five DVD films - and (2) since
Gena Rowlands's company consequently cannot make any money
off of them, she is apparently not interested in preserving
and presenting them. If I were a millionaire the way she is,
I'd buy up the rights and restore them and make them available.
But our culture is one where money talks and if she and Al
Ruban don't stand to make a profit from having them available,
it seems that they aren't really interested in doing anything about them.
Cassavetes made 11 films in all, but if there's only money
in it for her to release and make available five of them,
those are the only ones that are made available. (I could
tell you stories about how I got nowhere trying to persuade
Criterion to include Husbands and Love Streams
in their box set release. Gena -- and Peter Becker -- just
weren't interested in even trying to include them.) I think
that's sick. But that's my problem I guess. I don't do things
for money. I do them for love. But that doesn't help you in
this case I realize.
here's an idea: You might call someone at the British Film
Institute and see if they know. They showed both about five
years ago in the National Film Theater there. They may have
a lead on print sources.
you invited me (and could get someone to pay for airfare and
a cheap hotel room, nothing more than that) I would come and
present any of the films you show. I am very interested in
meeting new viewers and talking about the work. And, as I
say, I'm not in it for money, to make a profit I mean. I'd
come simply if someone there could find the airfare and a
hotel room. Nothing more required.
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