Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands claim that Cassavetes did not want the first version of Shadows shown. (Click here to read Rowlands’s response to Prof. Carney’s discovery of the long-lost first version of Shadows.) They are simply wrong. Read more to find out why.

To read a chronological listing of events between 1979 and the present connected with Ray Carney's search for, discovery of, and presentation of new material by or about John Cassavetes, including a chronological listing of the attempts of Gena Rowlands's and Al Ruban's to deny or suppress Prof. Carney's finds, click here.

To read another statement about why Gena Rowlands or anyone else who acted in Cassavetes' films or someone who knew Cassavetes is not the ultimate authority on the meaning of his work or on how it should be cared for or preserved, click here.

To read about other unknown Cassavetes material (including recording studio master tapes and an unknown film by Cassavetes) Ray Carney has discovered, click here.

Click here for best printing of text

What were Cassavetes' feelings about screenings of the first version of Shadows? Did he want it to be suppressed? Did he suppress it?

Since Gena Rowlands's and Al Ruban's basic position about the first version of Shadows is that Cassavetes never wanted it to be shown, several people have written me to ask the source for the statement that I quote at the head of the following page on the site.

http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/shadows/news.shtml

The text they are asking about reads:

"Now, a lot of film buffs heard about the two versions of Shadows so they said, 'We want to see the first version, which was the great version of Shadows!' .... So we showed that first version of Shadows and they championed it. They thought it was great.... That other version exists and ... is allowed to be shown at any time...." —John Cassavetes in an interview with Andre Labarthe, when he was asked whether he didn't want people to see the earlier version of Shadows or had suppressed the print of it.

Gena Rowlands's whole position is that she is honoring Cassavetes’ wishes by not showing the first version, and that I "have failed to respect John Cassavetes' wishes." Peter Becker's email firing me uses these exact words and says that that is why Rowlands insisted I be fired. Well, the Labarthe interview quote is one refutation of that, but I want to emphasize that Cassavetes' statement to Labarthe is not mere verbiage or empty talk. It's a little known fact, but a fact nonetheless that Cassavetes actually did conduct screenings of the first version of Shadows even after he had finished and screened the second version. I have in my possession detailed information about regular theatrical screenings (in other words, real, public, commercial screenings, not private events for friends and relatives) of the first version of Shadows that Cassavetes approved and conducted before the first version was lost on the subway car. (Of course he couldn't conduct any more after the film was lost.) There is no doubt whatsoever that these screenings took place. I have tracked down every detail about them: the advertising, the box office ticket sales records, the attendance figures, and the rental payments made to Cassavetes. I have in my possession the documentation approving the screenings and naming the payment terms with signatures on it. And Gena Rowlands has knowledge that these screenings took place, because I myself sent the information to her months ago, along with dozens of other pieces of information about the early history of the first version. But don't confuse her with the facts! She still denies there was a "first version"—let alone that Cassavetes ever allowed it to be screened for the public! (As evidence of the falsity of Rowlands's position, and proof not only that there is a "first version" of Shadows, but that it is a complete and finished work of art, not a work in progress or a rough assembly, click here to view three brief video clips from the movie.)

In summary: Ruban and Rowlands are wrong, wrong, wrong. As the above statement by Cassavetes establishes, he was not opposed to screenings of the first version of Shadows. And as the screening records in my possession establish, he actually did hold public screenings of the first version. For what it's worth, he also told me, near the end of his life, that he would love to have the film found and screened again. He wished he knew where it was. He wished it weren't lost. In short, ALL of the evidence says the same thing. The filmmaker himself did NOT want the first version destroyed, suppressed, or hidden away for no one ever to see. (As Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban claim and as they are having their lawyer attempt to do by seizing the print from me and taking it out of circulation.)

If we are going to play the rhetorical game that Rowlands has begun, it would be more accurate to say that SHE is ironically enough the one who is "not honoring Cassavetes' wishes" and that I am the one who is struggling against the lawyers to defend his wishes. Cassavetes himself said the first version could be shown. He rented the first version out for regular, public screenings. And now she wants to fry me for doing what he himself endorsed and did, while herself contravening his wishes.

But, to get back to where I began, the question at hand is where does the quote that I have on the site, the quote that I have transcribed above—the quote from Cassavetes saying that he has no objection to the first version of Shadows being screened—come from? Well, my answer follows. I've sent it to several different people who have asked about it, but to avoid having to write the same reply over and over again, I am posting the text of my reply to one of the inquirers below. Where can you find the statement by Cassavetes saying that he has no problem with the first version of Shadows being shown? It's in an unexpected place. Read the reply that follows to find out. I hope it gives you a chuckle.

Dear xxxx,

You're right. That statement by Cassavetes completely refutes Criterion's and Rowlands's positions. I'm delighted to give you the source. And you know the joke? You'll laugh when I explain it. The quote is included in the Criterion box set! It was my "Trojan horse." A little "Easter Egg" hidden away on the disks, waiting to be found.

Here's the back story: the box set's producer knew very little about Cassavetes and I more or less worked out the contents of the box set for her, which means all of the material eventually included, plus a lot more that wasn't included. (Unfortunately, some of the best stuff didn't make the cut thanks to good old Al and Gena and Peter Becker.) Over a period of months I did hundreds of hours of research and made dozens of recommendations for supplementary material to be included with the disks. Among many other things, I suggested the Cineastes de notre temps documentary (which I had one of the only copies of in America—and which a few years before I had already suggested to Kiselyak to use in his documentary) where Andre Labarthe interviews Cassavetes about Faces. It's an interesting piece in itself, but one of the reasons I thought it would be especially amusing to include it was because around 42 minutes into it (just after the point it switches from Faces' 1965 pre-release to its 1968 post-release period, where John is sitting in a chair with a tie on) John starts talking about why he was unfairly charged with "suppressing" the first version of Shadows. Labarthe asks John something to the effect of: "Why did you suppress the first version of Shadows? Why did you refuse to make it available to all the people who wanted to see it? Why don't you want it to be seen?" And you can hear John's answer with your own ears. It's the one I quote on the site. He says he didn't suppress it, and that it can be shown any time. He says he prefers the second version of the film, but has nothing against screenings of the first.

Well, as Criterion's scholarly advisor, I thought it would be a great joke to have this on the release, since they were giving me such a hard time about including the first version of Shadows. And Criterion took my advice and included it, probably without ever listening to the piece carefully enough to realize that they were including something that refuted their own and Rowlands's and Ruban's position on Shadows! I thought it would be good for a laugh.

Even though Rowlands had my name removed from the box set, I really truly was the scholarly advisor for everything that went into it and that's what scholarly advisors are for: to know the material inside and out, to make recommendations on what to include and what not to include, and to make sure that important information gets onto the disks. And that's what I did. This is important information. I got it into the set. : )

What larks!

Side issue: Does Peter Becker actually pay attention to what his company is issuing? Don't answer that.....!

All best etceteras,

Ray Carney
Uncredited "Scholarly Advisor" to the Criterion Box Set

To read more about Gena Rowlands's response to Prof. Carney's discovery of the first version of Shadows, click here.

To read a chronological listing of events between 1979 and the present connected with Ray Carney's search for, discovery of, and presentation of new material by or about John Cassavetes, including a chronological listing of the attempts of Gena Rowlands's and Al Ruban's to deny or suppress Prof. Carney's finds, click here.

To read another statement about why Gena Rowlands or anyone else who acted in Cassavetes' films or someone who knew Cassavetes is not the ultimate authority on the meaning of his work or on how it should be cared for or preserved, click here.

To read about other unknown Cassavetes material (including recording studio master tapes and an unknown film by Cassavetes) Ray Carney has discovered, click here.

Top of Page

Text Copyright 2004 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.