Carney, you need a blog
Hi there. Not sure
if you remember, but you emailed me a while back about my
"Carney caper" on a site I used to contribute to
Anyway, I was checking
out your Independent Film pages and had a little trouble identifying
which articles are new. I think you should consider writing
a weblog, or blog. It's a great way to promote your work,
interact with readers and point folks to your latest pieces
and interviews. You might enjoy it.
Just my two cents,
p.s. It's pretty
easy to start a blog, for free, at www.blogger.com. There
are other sites too, like www.typepad.com. If you're looking
for good examples of blogs, you might check out New Yorker
music critic Alex Ross's blog, www.therestisnoise.com.
almost didn't read this because I thought the subject was
you are interested in a list of new listings, recent postings,
new pages, and updates to the site, go to the "Master
Table of Contents" page (also called the "Site Index").
Everything on the site is marked as being "old"
or "new." It's accessible from one of the blue movie
ticket icons in the left menu of each page. It should be just
to the left of this letter in fact. Click on "Site Index
and New Postings List" and it will bring up that page
with the "New" listings clearly marked in red.
just read the Mailbag. That has links to many new postings.
in the left menu of any page and the bottom four buttons are
all about how to find things on the site. Each of the bottom
buttons offers a different way to access listings of the new
and old contents of the site.
have NO desire to start a blog. I have enough on my plate
already! Know anyone willing to type for free? I need a typist!
If you can take it in the spirit with which it is offered
(which is a charitable one), may I make a more philosophical
response to your desire to read the "new" listings
on my site? You really want to examine this impulse to keep
up with the "newest," "most recent," or
"current" material. It is another sickness of our
culture. It is obsessed with "news."And it attempts
to make everyone in it obsessed with the "new."
I would rather read and think about the oldest of the old
things, writings, and ideas. They are where truth lies. The
news, the new postings, the most recent events come and go,
but the old truths live on. They don't change. That is true
of arts, of ideas, of ways of living, and of the material
on my site as well. Break away from our culture's obsession
with the "latest" and "hottest" and re-read,
re-familiarize yourself with the news that stays news, the
oldest and hoariest and most moss-grown truths. They are where
you want to live. Read OLD books; listen to OLD music; watch
OLD films. Turn off the "news" and tune in to the
"olds." You'll spend your whole life trying to keep
up with the news and never succeed. It's another way our culture
imprisons people. Break free by living in the past!!! : )
And please forgive the sociology lesson. It is offered only
half-facetiously. All best wishes!!!
Re: Need Cassavettes
Dear Mr. Carney,
Thanks for your
great work and research on John Cassavettes -- the film world
is indebted to you.
I would like to
purchase, directly from you, some of your interviews with
I'm primarily interested
in reading his thoughts on the process, so if you have a book
primarily dedicated to interviews, that would be great.
Please tell me
your best mailing address (I'm not sure if the website is
current, had to check with you), price, and I'll mail you
Thanks very much,
P.S. I had the
good fortune to work with Bo Harwood, who recorded sound for
me on my first feature. Bo worked with John and had great
stories. I also visited the set of "Big Trouble"
and saw John working and having a good time with the actors,
I have two books coming out that will address your needs.
They will have much new material, many new facts about the
making of the films, amazing revelations about Cassavetes'
life, and many other unsuspected things. Astonishing material
I have never written about in the past or revealed before.
There is so much that I have had for years but it takes me
time to type it up and get it into shape since I have no help
or financial backing or institutional support. (Know a good
typist who works cheap!?? Put me in touch with him or her.
I need help!)
But, even in the
best of circumstances, publishers being what they are, it
may be a year or more until you can read any of what I have
prepared. In the meantime, read and re-read my Cassavetes
on Cassavetes book and check out all of my other Cass
books. They have much in them that should be of interest to
a filmmaker. They are just what you are looking for. The address
and info on the site is correct. Use that. Or get them at
Amazon. Or in a bookstore. Or a library. I don't care. I don't
make more than a few cents on any of this material anyway.
It's not about money. Get the books any way you can. (But
don't rely on the web site. It just has excerpts. Dribs and
drabs of this and that. Get the books! And the packets of
interview material too. However you can get them.)
But more importantly:
Can you share some JC stories from Big Trouble? In
addition to material by Cassavetes, I have the largest archive
in the world of clippings, reviews, stories and anecdotes
about him gathered from hundreds of people who worked with
him, knew him, or ran into him at some time or other. I have
thousands of pages of extraordinary material. Can I add your
stories to it? Trust me: Nothing is too trivial or unimportant.
EVERYTHING IS USEFUL. The smallest detail of how he looked,
acted, talked, walked, what he said, his mood, etc. I will
of course acknowledge you as the source of what you send me.
I will preserve your memories for posterity. Please share
any recollections with me. It's not about me or you. It's
for history. I am preserving everything for the next generation.
We are the last ones to have known him, talked with him, worked
with him. And it's critical that these memories be gathered
and held onto for the future.
New Cassavetes DVD box set in the UK
Hope you are well.
Not sure if you
already know about this, but a DVD box set of five John Cassavetes
films will be released on September 12th in the UK by a company
called Optimum. The films are SHADOWS, FACES, A WOMAN UNDER
THE INFLUENCE, THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (both versions)
and OPENING NIGHT.
I have been asked
to review this box set for SIGHT AND SOUND. I received the
test discs this morning. The contents are pretty much the
same as the US Criterion release, except that A CONSTANT FORGE
is not part of the set.
*** omitted material
Needless to say,
this set does not include the earlier version of SHADOWS.
Which is why I am writing to you. I haven't heard from you
since last August, when I put you in touch with XXXX. I was
just wondering if, between the two of you, you had managed
to determine whether or not the original SHADOWS was indeed
a public domain work. I was also wondering if there was anything
new to report about your attempts to bring this version of
the film to a wider audience. I would very much like to include
some up-to-date information about this matter when I review
the box set (bearing in mind that SIGHT AND SOUND are limiting
me to 1000 words).
learned about the British project approximately six months ago
when they contacted me and asked if I would contribute. I
agreed to provide anything they wanted, from voice-overs to
written notes to on-camera interviews. That was the last I
heard from them. I assume after they relayed my enthusiasm
to Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands, R and R told them I was not
to contribute. End of story. When I enquired of the status
of the project in follow-up emails, they never replied. Taking
marching orders from the rich and powerful. Celebrity always
trumps scholarship in film study.
web site has complete information about all of the history
of these various items, including my
deposit of the Faces print in the Library of
Congress and the Criterion
blackballing and firing. See the Ray Carney's Discoveries
section, and the interview with George Hunka in particular.
interview has new material near the end that explains
why he cannot get it published.
you manage to get any of the above in the S and S
review, I'll be stunned. Journalists are cowards. S and
S is afraid of alienating movie stars like Gena and to
my knowledge not one magazine or newspaper has printed anything
about what happened and what is clearly continuing to happen.
So much for independent judgment. They are all publicity flacks
to the rich and famous and powerful. Just like the DVD releasing
to XXXX: he never did anything to help me. I think his firm
must have told him it wouldn't be in his best interests to
pursue this. I sent him tons of information but that was the
end of it. So much for lawyers too! (Though nothing against
XXXX personally, of course.)
- As to Shadows' legal status, this too is covered
on my site already. See the Discoveries pages where I talk
about this. (Click here
to read more about Cassavetes' wishes that the first version
of Shadows be shown, the public domain status of
the print, and Carney's attempts to prevent Rowlands from
destroying or suppressing it forever.) Shadows is
my property and not covered under copyright so I can screen
it whenever or wherever I want. I am receptive to invitations
and opportunities, but I want to do it right. This is covered
in the letters and replies in the Discoveries section very
thoroughly, just as all of the other issues are. (Click here
to go there.)
Thanks for the
"If you manage
to get any of the above in the S and S review I'll be stunned."
mention all this, though I won't be able to go into the kind
of detail I'd like (I have 1000 words, and can't really spend
more than 200 discussing this controversy).....
"As to Shadows'
legal status: This too is covered on my site already. See
the Discoveries pages again. Shadows is my property and not
covered under copyright so I can screen it whenever or wherever
I want. I receptive to invitations and opportunities"
I think the point that needs to be emphasized is that with
the discovery of this version's public domain status, all
of Gena Rowland's actions suddenly make total sense. If transfers
of this version of SHADOWS were to become easily available,
anyone who wanted to could release copies on DVD. And I'm
not talking about kids selling home-made DVD-Rs over the internet
- I'm talking about those companies that release professionally
packaged DVDs of PD films such as IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, ONE-EYED
JACKS and FATHER'S LITTLE DIVIDEND. You can find stacks of
these things selling for 4 or 5 dollars at your local Walmart.
Needless to say, if cheap DVDs of SHADOWS were to become available
in this way, it would seriously eat into the profits that
Gena and Al Ruban can make from the second version of SHADOWS,
which they actually own the rights to (well, probably own
the rights to - let's not get into that). I know Gena has
hinted that, were you to turn over the print you've discovered
to her, she might destroy it. If she didn't destroy it, you
can bet she'd just stick it in a vault somewhere - commercially,
this would be the most sensible thing for her to do. Even
if she released her own DVD of it, there'd be a thousand duplicate
copies offered for sale by PD companies the next day.
The point I'm making
is that some of your comments might lead people to conclude
Gena is simply being whimsical in her attempts to suppress
the early version of SHADOWS. But she isn't. Even her claims
that "there is only one version of SHADOWS" can
be seen as part of an attempt to lay the grounds for a legal
defence, should prints of the first version start appearing
on the PD market.
By the way, would
it be possible for you to send me a video or DVD copy of the
early SHADOWS? I haven't had an opportunity to attend any
of the festival screenings, and I feel that I really need
to see it before writing about this matter for SIGHT AND SOUND.
Needless to say, I would be happy to pay whatever costs are
involved, and would not mention having obtained the film from
you (I could just say that I saw it at Rotterdam).
never ever for a moment thought that Gena is being "whimsical."
Lawyers and threats and financial hardball and getting me
fired and blackballing me from working on other DVD projects
are not "whimsical." This is tough-as-nails hardball.
agree with much of what you write. I think your analysis of
the financial motives behind the attempt to confiscate and
suppress the first version of Shadows is substantially
correct. I've always felt she was financially motivated. But
you see how that makes it even worse don't you? It is not
a matter of "principle" but (at least in part) a
business consideration that one of her husband's major works
should never be seen! Money talks.
don't overlook her sheer ignorance of events, either. People
always assume Rowlands was JC's "collaborator."
That's just not true. She was not involved in the planning,
scripting, directing, or production of the films. Not even
a little. She was an actress who came in and did her scenes.
And then left. And then did PR when a film was released. In
the case of Shadows, the first version and the second,
that means that she is just plain unaware of what was going
on. (When I talked to her, she had clearly no knowledge that
the film was made and released twice. None. I had to explain
this to her. It was news.) And she was and still is completely
ignorant of what JC's intentions about it were or would now
be. He told French critic Andre Labarthe who recorded the
interview on film he had no problems with having it shown.
here to read Cassavetes' words.) And he told me substantially
the same thing. But she doesn't know or care what he said,
and when she and I talked she wasn't interested in learning
about my conversation with him about it. He told me he wished
he had it. He told me he had no desire to suppress it but
simply lost it and didn't know where it was. She just doesn't
know any of this. I am not speculating. All of that became
clear when I talked with her on the phone about all of this.
She didn't know anything about anything in terms of the versions
or screenings! And she wasn't interesting in learning. So
that is another part of her decision-making. She really thinks
that this is "rough footage" never meant to be seen.
Al Ruban has poisoned her mind about this and she refuses
to believe me or check the facts or read any of the books
that detail the events.
sorry I can't send you a DVD of the first version. It's just
too risky in too many ways. Get me an invitation to show Shadows
I and II in a back to back program in London
in a proper event with a nice send-off and I'll sit next to
you and "talk you through it." It's a great and
interesting film--which is why I am fighting with my life
(and money) to keep it from being confiscated, suppressed,
and possibly destroyed. She may be able to ruin me financially,
but I won't let her destroy this work of art. Or suppress
it, which amounts to the same thing.
I just listened
to Seymour Cassel's DVD commentary track for SHADOWS. Extremely
interesting. He insists that only three scenes were shot specifically
for the second version: Lelia in bed with Tony; Lelia dancing
with Davey; and the final scene involving Hugh and Rupert.
Cassel insists that all the other scenes that are unique to
the second version were actually shot during the initial phase
of filming (even though they weren't used in the first version).
Charity actually does try to argue with him about some of
this stuff, but the subject obviously makes Cassel extremely
irritable. Cassel insists "there's only one version."
Whenever Tom Charity tries to say something like "here's
a scene that was reshot," Cassel shouts "Where do
you get this bullshit?" At one point, Charity says "I'd
like to take up a point raised by Professor Ray Carney",
and at the mention of your name, Cassel mutters something
- I couldn't quite make out what it was, but it didn't sound
there you go. It's Seymour trying to shut me down. He's taking
his marching orders from Al and Gena. When he argues that
there is no such thing as a "first version" of Shadows,
he is trying to convince the world of the same thing that
Al and Gena have been telling interviewers and saying at film
festivals for years. Of course, there's one flaw in their
argument -- namely that I HAVE THE PRINT in my possession
(a little embarrassing fact that they would like people to
forget), and that -- as everyone I have shown it to, including
six or seven hundred film-savvy viewers in Rotterdam, can
attest -- it is a finished, beautiful work, complete down
to its last details, with a credit sequence and a polished
optical sound track (the last two things added to a film before
its release, which conclusively proves that it isn't just
a jumble of raw footage or an unfinished work). Seymour, Al,
and Gena assume that if they just repeat the lie frequently
enough, people will believe them and not the evidence of the
print itself or the ample historical record of its earlier
screenings or John's and Jonas Mekas's detailed descriptions
of it. How dumb do Al, Gena, and Seymour think we are?
what are you going to do? You can be like a George Bush sycophant
White House reporter and take Cassel's word for it, or you
can use your brain and think. Thinking in this case means
reading my Shadows book and looking at the film.
should just stop with that. That's plenty to go on. But I'll
give you a little help: If you want to completely demolish
his argument all you have to do it watch Lelia's hairdo and
hair length change from scene to scene--from waist-length
to neck length. Look at the Central Park running away scene
and the dancing with Tony in the apartment scenes (long hair
she had been growing all her life and evidence of the first
version 1957 shoot) and compare it with her short hair length
and hairdo in other scenes (filmed two years later for the
second version reshoot): the seeing Hugh off at the bus station,
the meeting Tony at the party scene, the walking with Tony
on the sidewalk scene, the post-love scene, and many others.
(Her eyebrows also change and her face changes because she
goes from being 18 to being 20.) And if you do, you'll see that Seymour is simply wrong. It's not my opinion against his; it's a matter of right facts versus wrong facts. And the facts are not subtle and elusive and contested, but clear and obvious and indisputable. Two years separate those shots. And it's proven
by a hundred other details in the film as well, all of which
corroborate the two year difference, including what movies
are playing at the theaters in the background and a dozen
other differences between the two sets of shots. By the way,
I'd also note that Lelia Goldoni, Maurice McEndree, and about
ten other people involved in the two periods of shooting agree
with my version of what happened.
note to readers of this letter on my site: I
would refer anyone who wants to learn more about how to identify
footage from the different periods of shooting in the second
version of Shadows
to buy my BFI book on the making of the film and my "A
Detective Story: A Study of Cassavetes' Revisionary Process"
packet. Both are available via this
link to the Bookstore section of the site (scroll up to
locate the BFI book). Another
page on the site has a brief sample of some of the material
available in the book and the packet.
you do that you can list the stupidities, the mistakes in
your review. Don't be like a White House reporter afraid to
question Bush's stupidity. Point out that a DVD releaser is
releasing a disc with false information on it, with mistakes
and errors. How do people feel about shelling out money for
something full of errors? And there are many others beyond
the ones I have focused on above.
the larger issue to touch on of course is what would Cassavetes
scholarship be if we left it in the hands of Al Ruban, Gena
Rowlands, Seymour Cassel, and others like them? The answer
is: full of myths, mistakes, stupidities.
hope you see what I'm getting at. Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban
have appeared at public events and said that they agree with
Seymour's version of events. Charles Kiselyak's Forgery
film takes people like Seymour, Al, and Gena at face value.
I point out their errors and am thrown overboard by Rowlands
you see that this is not just an argument between me and Gena?
This sort of thing really matters. It's not just a personal
thing between me and them. It's important to our understanding
of how this film (and the other films) were made. Establishing
basic facts is the nature of scholarship. Open a music biography
and read about Beethoven's notebooks or Mozart's pentimenti,
their drafts, their changes to their scores. We don't ask
Mozart's widow to establish the facts. We do independent research.
But in film, on a DVD, we put the junk a movie star says out
there and take it seriously. That's what I mean when I say
celebrity trumps scholarship. If a movie star says it, we
assume it is true. Do we want people who weren't really involved
with the production history of the movies (as Seymour and
Gena weren't), people who can't remember the facts, people
who are covering for Gena to be the source of facts? Or do
we want scholarship, accuracy, truth?
I got carried away and have given you entirely too much help.
You'll have to figure out the other lies and distortions (perpetuated
by Peter Bogdanovich, by Al Ruban, by Jon Voight, and by others)
for yourself from now on. No more coaching! : ) It's all in
my books anyway. And if you want help, re-read my
Charles Kiselyak "mythmaking" interview again.
I really say it all there. Gena is committed to perpetuating
half-truths, falsehoods, and myths. Not reality. That's the
Norma Desmond side of her. That's not just a colorful metaphor.
It's not just an attempt to name-call. It's a considered,
thoughtful description of the emotional place she is at. She
isn't interested in facts or truth. She's interested in perpetuating
self-serving myths. It's what Hollywood stars like Gena and
Seymour become in their old age. Fabricators who believe
their own press releases and lose touch with reality. And
go on yammering stupidities on DVD releases. They become embarrassments.
And DVDs continue to re-cycle their mistakes. And no one dares
includes the following two communications from Optimum Releasing
from March 2005 as verification of Rowlands's removal of Carney
from the UK DVD project:
I handle DVD publicity
for Optimum Releasing. We're a UK distributor and we have
the rights to release the Cassavettes films Shadows,
Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The
Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night
for the first time on DVD in the UK. I noticed that you are
an authority on Cassavettes' career and I am contacting you
to see if you'd be interested in contributing to our DVD releases
of these films (which will be released in a boxset) by possibly
recording an audio commentary, filmed introduction or writing
an essay to go in the boxset.
I also noticed
that you wrote an article in the Guardian last year about
Shadows and wondered if you would consider writing
something that could be placed with UK press. We are planning
to release these films in September this year, so if you could
get back to me to let me know what you think that would be
great. If you have any ideas, questions or would like to know
more about this release please don't hesitate to contact me.
22 Newman Street
Direct Line: +44 (0)207 3071 512
Fax: 0207 637 5408
I have been forwarded your details by my colleague Diana Privitera,
regarding our planned release of a John Cassavetes DVD boxset
here in the UK.
I am very glad to hear you'd be interested in recording commentaries,
or supplying essays for the accompanying booklet. Of course
I understand that we would need to agree a fee and terms for
anything you undertook for us: to initiate the discussion
do you think you could give me some idea of what fee you would
expect for, say, a feature-length commentary?
We don't tend to set specific budgets for the creation of
extras, and generally prefer to take such decisions as and
when material becomes available. What I can say is that obviously
we're keen to ensure that we do these films justice given
that this is the first time they will be available on DVD
in this country. Our scheduled release date is late September,
so we will need to have completed the project by the end of
July - which gives us some, but not much, time to play with.
If you could let me know your thoughts on the above I'd really
Many thanks and best regards,
Optimum Home Entertainment
2nd Floor, 22 Newman Street
London W1T 1PH
Direct Line: (020) 7307 1503
Fax: (020) 7637 5408
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