A Chronology of Cassavetes–Related Events, 1979-2007

The chronology that follows covers the final ten years of John Cassavetes' life and the nineteen years following his death. To access a chronology and list of events covering the first forty years of Cassavetes' life, from 1929 through 1968, click here.

To read more about many of the events described below, go to the "About Ray Carney" and the "Ray Carney's Discoveries" sections of the site (in the left menu on this page) and the associated links. All of the books and articles by Prof. Carney that are mentioned can be purchased via the "Bookstore" link (also in the left menu on this page).

1979-1990 / 1990-1995 / 1996-2000 / 2001-2005 / 2006-2007

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February: Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes, the first biography of the filmmaker, is published. The book establishes the basic facts, dates, and events in Cassavetes' life for the first time and corrects hundreds of errors present in all existing reference books. Despite repeated requests, Rowlands has refused to provide any help or information to Carney during his eleven years of research. (Click here to read an account of how Carney researched his Cassavetes on Cassavetes book.)

March: Ray Carney's monograph on the making of Shadows is published by the British Film Institute and University of California Press. The book reveals new facts about the film based on a series of "Rosebud" conversations between Carney and Cassavetes shortly before Cassavetes death, including a reconstruction of the contents of the first version and an account of which parts of the second version were scripted in collaboration with Robert Alan Aurthur.

Tom Charity's John Cassavetes: Lifeworks is published by Omnibus Press. The book continues to repeat a number of factual mistakes about Cassavetes' life and work.

April - present: In a misguided attempt to defend the version of the film which she owns (and probably to prevent Robert Alan Aurthur's widow from making claims against any profits from it), Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban tell interviewers and audiences that Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes and Shadows books are factually incorrect. They make numerous statements to the effect that "there was no first version of Shadows," that "Robert Alan Aurthur was not involved in any way" with the second version, that the second version was not scripted and that the statement that appears at the end that the film was "improvised" is correct. In question and answer sessions, Ruban mocks the appendix of Carney's Shadows book, which compares the two versions of the film, as "a study of underwear."

My mailbag is full of reports of Al Ruban's gratuitous bashing of my scholarship and publications at public events from 1990 through the present. As objective evidence from outsiders who have no particular allegiance to me or my work, three reports follow that I received from individuals who don't know each other who were each present at post-screening question-and-answer sessions of Cassavetes' work. The first and last events took place in New York; the middle event in Los Angeles. Since all three are filmmakers or film industry professionals, I have withheld their names to protect their identities. (I'd also point out that many of these attacks preceded my discoveries of new Cassavetes material. When I found the new prints of Faces and Shadows, Ruban's and Rowlands's denigrations of my work became even more frequent and more abusive. I said nothing publicly about any of this for almost fifteen years.)

Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003

Hey Prof. Carney-

Just wanted to let you know that I recently met AL Ruban at a screening of A woman under the influence and Minnie and Moskowitz at the Two Boots Pioneer theater on 2nd Ave in NYC. Ruban was a complete asshole and when I asked a question regarding something from your book "C on C", he condemned you as an "intellectual jerk". Something tells me that this guy either has something to hide or is really insecure.

Thanks, hope all is well.
Name Withheld

Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002
Subject: al ruban

Ray, just returned from the UCLA screening of (the second version of) Shadows. Curtis Hanson introduced. Talked about first meeting JC during editing of Faces. Didn't he make LA Confidential? Seems, then, he didn't learn anything from his time with JC. Goldoni, Rowlands, Ruban and Cassel there.

Something you might want to hear, through I'm sure you know his attitude: Ruban explained that the version we saw tonight (ie. at UCLA) was the real film: 'This is the film, it's always been the film.' Ruban seemed rather scornful of critics/historians, and your work in particular, saying things like (I'm paraphrasing here): enjoy the film for what it is, don't worry about what color underpants people were wearing. One question from the audience mentioned your name, to which Ruban replied, 'Ray Carney wasn't there'. So, there you have it.

Name Withheld

Date: 15 Dec 2001

Prof. Carney:

What's up with Al Ruban? I was at an event where people cited your work on Cassavetes in the q-and-a (all very favorable, I think some of them might have been your students) and he launched into this ferocious attack saying (words pretty close to): "How can Carney claim to know what Cassavetes meant? He wasn't there to ask him. A critic has no business telling us what a film is about or what a director was thinking unless he was there. Carney wasn't there." A few minutes later he called your Shadows book a "study of underwear" and said "who cares what underwear people are wearing!" I have to tell you the whole tirade (and it went on and on) caught the audience completely by surprise. Everyone was stunned. He seemed really mad. It pretty much brought the discussion to a halt. No one wanted to ask any more questions until the moderator calmed him down by making a joke. I want you to know though that the audience was on your side. Someone beside me whispered "he's jealous," and when we were filing out someone else made a joke about "that's the way all producers are." He sure put a damper on the evening. What gives with him? What is his problem?

Name Withheld

Click here to read more accounts from other audience members of Al Ruban's conduct at public events on page 76 of the Mailbag.

July: While going through the Library of Congress's on - line database, Ray Carney concludes, based on the published length of the footage given for a recently acquired print of Faces, that a previously unknown 147 - minute "long print" of the film is now in their possession. Phone calls and e - mail exchanges with the staff indicate that they are unaware of the holding and the specialness of the print. They tell Carney that the footage count is almost certainly a clerical error.

October 17 - 22: Ray Carney moderates question - and - answer sessions about Cassavetes' life and work at the Denver Film Festival.

October 25 - 28: Ray Carney conducts an on-stage interview with Gena Rowlands on the opening night event of the 17th Annual Virginia Film Festival, and participates in a retrospective featuring Rowlands's film acting work. In a conversation with Carney at the festival, she says she is upset about his Cassavetes on Cassavetes book because the Variety review said it called her husband "a liar." She adds that she has not read the book. Carney assures her that it celebrates her husband's work and does him honor. She is not placated.

October 29 - November 1: Carney visits the Library of Congress, physically verifies the existence of the Faces find, views it, records its contents, and informs the staff of the importance of the print. He talks with them about the necessity of preservation. All parties agree on the importance of the find and talk about making an announcement and conducting public screenings at the earliest possible date. Carney volunteers to draft the press release. Acquisition records are incomplete, but all evidence points to the print being part of the deposit Carney had sent there three years earlier. Click here for an account of the Faces discovery.

November 6 - 8: Ray Carney visits Hollins College and conducts various film events, including a screening of Shadows and a discussion of the differences between the first and second versions of the film.

November - December: Carney provides a press release to the Library of Congress about the Faces find. He has already notified Gena Rowlands and asked her to give permission for a video transfer to be made for scholarly use so that he can publish information about the discovery. In reply, Al Ruban sends Carney a fax denying the video request and telling him he is not to reveal the find or write about it. Through Ruban, Rowlands tells the Film Department not to announce the discovery, screen the print, or otherwise make it available for scholarly or public viewing. She incorrectly argues that it is her personal property and is a cut of the film never meant to be screened in public. This is contradicted by the presence of the credits sequence, but the Library complies with her request. Click here for a more complete account of Rowlands's response to Carney's Faces discovery.


July: UCLA screens the restored second version of Shadows at the annual UCLA Festival of Preservation. Ray Carney's Shadows book is quoted in the program notes, and Carney asks to be invited to the event, but Gena Rowlands expresses the wish that he not be invited. There is no difference between the content of the restored print and previously available prints of the film and only slight improvement in image quality.

Ray Carney provides program notes and assists with the French DVD release of A Child is Waiting.


January: Ray Carney conducts the first East Coast screening of the restored UCLA print of the second version of Shadows at the Coolidge Corner theater in Boston to a standing - room only audience. He introduces the film and conducts a post - screening interview with Tony Ray.

Cassavetes' photograph appears on the "director" commemorative stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service to honor the 75th Anniversary of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

October 2003 - May 2004

Criterion names Ray Carney as the scholarly advisor for a forthcoming Cassavetes DVD box set. Over the next eight months, Carney spends more than 200 hours advising Criterion on every aspect of the proposed contents of the set, locating new material, recording voice - over commentary, and planning and writing for the booklet that is to accompany the set. Click here for more information about Prof. Carney's involvement in the Criterion project.

Ray Carney writes program notes for and assists with the release of the French DVD of Love Streams.


November: After a seventeen - year search and $50,000 of expenditure, Ray Carney locates the lost and presumed destroyed 78 - minute first version of Shadows. Click here for a year - by - year account of the search.

Carney immediately notifies Johanna Schiller, a producer at Criterion, and Ross Lipman, the senior preservationist at UCLA whom Carney advised concerning the restoration of the second version of Shadows. Criterion is enthusiastic and expresses the desire to include it in their Cassavetes box set. Carney tentatively approves the idea of letting them include it, pending study of the rights situation. Lipman advises Carney on the care and preservation of the print.

Lipman warns Prof. Carney that Ruban has made a series of nasty and abusive remarks about Carney and his work, telling him that when Lipman has mentioned Carney's search for the first version to Ruban, Ruban has jeered at it, and denied that a "first version" ever existed. Lipman tells Carney that, given the vehemence and irrationality of Ruban's attitude, he believes there is a real possibility that Ruban may attempt to destroy, suppress, or otherwise prevent the print from being seen if it ever comes into his possession. Consequently, when Carney talks to Lipman about donating the print to UCLA or another archive, Lipman advises him that, given Ruban's attitude, he must be sure he carefully structures the donation to prevent Rowlands or her spokesman Ruban from ever being able to repossess and possibly destroy it. He councils Carney to keep the discovery from Rowlands and Ruban until he has made sure that the print is protected from seizure.

December: After a lawyer advises Carney that the first version of Shadows has fallen into the public domain and is free of screening restrictions, he contacts the Sundance Film Festival to offer them the premiere screening. John Cooper turns him down, saying that their audience has had their fill of Cassavetes in the past in previous events. When Simon Field, the Director of the Rotterdam International Film Festival, learns of the discovery from an intermediary, he expresses his enthusiastic desire to present the film, calling it "the holy Grail of independent film." Carney agrees to provide it to Rotterdam for free.


January: Carney screens the first version of Shadows twice at the Rotterdam International Film Festival to capacity crowds and enthusiastic responses. He is interviewed by more than fifteen European publications. Click here for more information about the Rotterdam screenings.

Following the screenings, Carney calls Gena Rowlands to discuss the discovery. She is extremely upset. She angrily tells him that "there was no first version" (incorrectly arguing that the print Carney has found was a only a rough, incomplete, unfinished edit--click here to view three brief video clips from the film) and that, as such, "it was something John didn't ever want shown." She insists that the print be Fedexed to her immediately. When Carney asks what she intends to do with it when she gets it, she indicates her desire to destroy or suppress it as something "never meant to be screened." Rowlands also tells Carney to remove all references to the "first version" of Shadows from his web site. She also expresses extreme displeasure with other parts of the site that deviate from her happy - face account of Cassavetes' life. Click here for a more complete account of Rowlands's response to the Shadows discovery. And click here to read extended excerpts from interviews with Professor Carney that provide more information about Rowlands's attempts to confiscate the print and prevent it from being screened.

January - March: Carney talks to Criterion about the importance of including all available alternate versions of all of Cassavetes' films. Johanna Schiller tells Carney that, as of this point in her negotiations, Rowlands and Ruban have turned down the requests. Only the final "release" versions will be included. Carney vows to keep up the pressure by contacting Rowlands directly.

Meanwhile, more than one hundred film festivals, archives, and theaters around the world express interest in showing the first version of Shadows. As an act of good faith and transparency, Carney forwards the most important requests to Rowlands, and offers to share all rental and video release revenue with her. She does not respond to Carney's mailings, but Carney later learns that she has written the festival curators and theater owners threatening a law suit if the print is screened and repeating the statement that "there is no first version" of the film. Without additional warning, Carney receives a letter from her lawyer threatening a series of legal actions to seize the 16mm print and videos of it if they are not received in ten days or less. Rowlands additionally sends a fax to Criterion threatening legal action if they include the print in the Cassavetes box set.

Over a period of several months Carney continues to write to Rowlands, pleading that she appreciate the value of the Shadows find and reconsider her actions. He also continues to make attempts to persuade her to change her mind about including the alternate versions of Shadows, Faces, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and outtakes from Opening Night, which Carney has located, in the Criterion box set. Carney speaks with Peter Becker, the head of Criterion, and Johanna Schiller, the producer of the set, about the importance of including these materials and asks them to continue to attempt to persuade Rowlands to change her mind. In the end, the efforts will partially pay off. After months of persuasion, Rowlands finally agrees to allow 17 minutes from Faces and the first version of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, though she turns down the inclusion of Shadows and Criterion rejects the inclusion of the Opening Night footage.

March - April: Gena Rowlands learns that Ray Carney has mentioned "the first version" of Shadows in his voice - over commentary for the Criterion box set, that he has reservations about including Charles Kiselyak's authorized documentary, and that he intends to contribute an essay to the booklet on the subject of "The real John Cassavetes: Moving beyond the myths." She contacts Peter Becker and demands that Carney's voice - over commentary and written material not be included in the box set and that his scholarly advisor credit be removed.

April: Carney contacts British Film Institute Publishing about issuing a revised edition of his Shadows book in the light of the discovery of the first version. The editor rejects the idea as not being commercial enough. (Click here to read more about this response and about film book publishing in general.) In response, Carney self-publishes A Detective Story - Going Inside the Heart and Mind of the Artist: A Study of Cassavetes' Revisionary Process in the Two Versions of Shadows, which revises and greatly expands the text of the BFI volume, and a second work, Necessary Experiences, which describes some of the events surrounding the quest for the first version of Shadows. These items are available on his web site.

May 8: At the point that his work on the Criterion box set is largely completed, Carney is fired by Peter Becker, who insists that he is doing it only at Rowlands's request. Click here and here for more information about how Rowlands had Carney fired.

September: Criterion's John Cassavetes Five Films box set appears. Ray Carney's credit as scholarly advisor has been removed from the materials, even though his work is still retained, uncredited, on the disks.

June - December: Carney advises the Museum of Television and Radio for a forthcoming retrospective of Cassavetes' television acting performances to be presented in New York and Los Angeles. The screenings consist of many previously forgotten or lost works Carney has discovered and shown in his classroom or at film festivals in previous years.


March: Attendance at both venues is so poor that it elicits comment in the Los Angeles Times. John Cassavetes is still not a household name in either film or television. His work is still not screened or discussed in most American film programs.

Diana Privitera and Stuart Henderson of Optimum Releasing ask Ray Carney to contribute to their UK DVD release of Cassavetes' films. Gena Rowlands vetoes the idea and has Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban provide voice-over commentary in Carney's place.

September: The Cassavetes DVD set is issued in the UK by Optimum Releasing. Seymour Cassel and Tom Charity provide voice-over commentary for the Shadows disk. Acting with the support and approval of Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands, in an attempt to undermine Carney's discovery of the print of the first version, Cassel argues with Charity in his recorded comments, swears and uses vulgar language, and states that there is "only one version" of the film. (Click here to read a reviewer's comments about Cassel's embarrassing and factually mistaken comments.) Cassel's commentary on this disk and Ruban's on another disk contain numerous factual errors.

3 < Page 4 < 5

1979-1990 / 1990-1995 / 1996-2000 / 2001-2005 / 2006-2007

The chronology above covers the final ten years of John Cassavetes' life and the nineteen years following his death. To access a chronology and list of events covering the first forty years of Cassavetes' life, from 1929 through 1968, click here.

To read more about many of the events described above, go to the "About Ray Carney" and the "Ray Carney's Discoveries" sections of the site (in the left menu on this page) and the associated links. All of the books and articles by Prof. Carney that are mentioned can be purchased via the "Bookstore" link (also in the left menu on this page).

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© Text Copyright 2005 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.