The pages in this section of Ray Carney's www.Cassavetes.com site contain letters written to Prof. Carney from artists about the Shadows, Faces, Criterion, and Kiselyak situations. The letters written to Prof. Carney are in black; his responses and comments are in blue. The letters on this page are only a small sample of the ones he has received pertaining to these issues. Note that another large section of the site, "The Mailbag," contains many more letters about other matters. To go to "The Mailbag" click here.

To learn more about the events these letters are commenting on, consult the links in the top menu of any of the pages in this section, which tell the story of Carney's discoveries of a new print of John Cassavetes' Faces, his discovery of a print of the long-lost first version of Shadows, his work on the Criterion DVD box set of Cassavetes' films, and his work as the scholarly advisor on a documentary film about Cassavetes.

To read specifically about Gena Rowlands's response to Prof. Carney's discovery of the new Faces print, click here. To read specifically about 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, and the attempts of Gena Rowlands's and Al Ruban's to deny, suppress, or confiscate Prof. Carney's finds, click here.

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Hello Ray,

I am gonna try to make this quick:

I purchased your "Why Art Matters" nearly two years ago and still read it from time to time. It really has helped me and kept me sane. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I am writing to for two reasons. One: I would like to send you a copy of my film "As an Act of Protest," I know you are inundated with videos from filmmakers all over the country (if not the world) but you are one man that I must finally send a copy to. I have been trying to re-work the sound mix and final cut but haven't been able to get the money to dip back into the editing studio. The film did well on the independent festival circuit - mainly the "Black" festivals - because the more "mainstream" festivals didn't know what to make of my film since it deals with racism and is a very theatrical, stylized, angry movie. Or so they tell me. Some interesting reviews, some interesting responses. Its frustrating cause no one really understands the film. Part of that is my failure as an artist and part of that is the ignorance and weakness of audiences and critics.

Anyway, Ray, I am curious if you would be able to suggest some filmmakers whose work I could ask to screen at the NY Subterranean Film Festival. It is a small, humble, "underground" (and I mean seriously underground) screening series/festival for Artists run by Artists. I am FED up with the sterility of the so-called "indie" fests particularly in NYC and had to do something in response. So I've been reaching out to other independents in hopes that they share my sentiments and have something personal and "radical" that they would like share and show to an audience.

Let me know your thoughts. Please give me your mailing address so I can send you some info on the festival (slated for January 2005).

Okay. Sorry - brevity is not one of my greater qualities. You are a busy man, I am a poor artist - neither one of us has time to be rambling on an e-mail.

Thank You Ray!

Dennis Leroy Moore
www.asanactofprotest.com


Hello, Mr. Carney!

My name is Warren Etheredge. I am the Curator of the 1 Reel Film Festival (at Bumbershoot) -- the nation's best-attended celebration of short cinema, attracting 25,000+ movie-lovers to Seattle every Labor day weekend.

I am also the Founder of TheWarrenReport (www.thewarrenreport.com), a film arts organization driven by the principle: Smarter audiences make better movies! TheWarrenReport stages year-round screenings, seminars, screenplay readings and classes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Like any good movie-lover, I am fascinated by your efforts to bring SHADOWS to light. Your dedication to tracking the "first version" and your battles with Mr. Cassavetes' estate are inspiring. (Of course, the legal wrangling is depressing as well.)

That said, I wonder if we might collaborate to arrange a "classroom screening" in Seattle. I propose a "secret" presentation of SHADOWS as part of TheWarrenReport's Distinguishing Features series at The Seattle Art Museum. This monthly showcase -- identifying North America's finest films and filmmakers -- is only open to members of TheWarrenReport who are admitted for FREE. (This guarantees the 300-seat house is almost always sold out.) We could even set up a "tip jar" in the back for the SHADOWS defense fund, if you like. Naturally, I'd invite you to Seattle to screen the film and provide context in a post-show q&a. (We'd fly you out, put you up and fete you at an incluse reception afterwards!)

If you are the least bit intrigued by this venture, let me know and I'll supply further details to woo you.

Regardless of the outcome, let me thank you on behalf of all cineastes for you unwavering commitment to film art, film history.

Hope all is swell,
Warren

TheWarrenReport
PO Box 31741
Seattle WA 98103
http://www.thewarrenreport.com


Dr. Carney,

I will keep this brief:

Thank you for your written works and scholarly devotion to independent cinema and Cassevetes in particular. You benefit all of us who love cinema and were not financially blessed to be able to attend film school. You perspectives and knowledge have contributed to my personal education. Thank you.

I was elated when I read in the Spring 2004 issue of Filmmaker that you have tracked down the Shadows print, and were in talks with Criterion. I was (pissed) when I looked into the Criterion web site and there was no mention of your commentary, and then learned on your web site that you had run into the legal roadblock with Rowlands.

I would just like to echo what other people have told you: the best thing that you could possibly do (if indeed your end-goal is public/ cinephile access to the lost Cassevetes work) is to leak the first version into the grey market . You have plausible deniability: you had the print transferred at an independent transfer house/ lab (i.e. there is no way that anyone could prove that someone didn't daisy-chain a second recorder and make a dupe that you were never even aware of....)

Also, not that you haven't checked into this, but I wonder on what grounds Rowlands believes she is the rightful owner of this print: IF THERE IS ONLY ONE PRINT IN EXISTENCE, if hasn't been in circulation, and no one (including JC) was sure it still existed (Rowlands can't possibly claim to own something that she denies exists and had no knowledge of the existence of...), YOU ARE THE RIGHTFUL OWNER. Cassevetes claims to have donated it. Unless the can come up with positive documentation as to WHERE and WHOM it was donated to (thus arguing that you received illegally), the print belongs to you.

Stick to your guns. LEAK THE FILM . Get it out there and they will never be able to make it disappear. And for gods sake, don't ever give it to them if they have stated they intend to destroy it... that's horrible.

I know you said that you don't want money, but I would make one last suggestion: you should try to get donations of volunteers, filmstock and lab-time to have the print properly cleaned and a dupe-print struck. And do it quietly... 

Concerned citizen,
Samuel Murchie
Michigan


Dear Professor Carney,

I recently read your two part interview in Moviemaker magazine conducted by Shelley Friedman and was completely blown away.  Your insight is beyond inspiring; it is convicting.  For once, I read/heard words which articulate the overwhelming feelings of disappointment I have felt towards films-at-large.

I am an aspiring filmmaker and in desperate need of more meaningful approaches to film.  Are you planning to speak in or near LA anytime soon?  Is it possible for one to attend your classes for no credit?  Also,which one of your books best articulates your perspective on film in general?  Basically, I would like to learn more about your insight regarding film in general.  Thank you.

Christopher J. Boghosian


Mr. Carney,

I've been a nervous wreck since reading the BREAKING NEWS. I've been crying on and off FUCK Gena Rowlands.

My wife says she wishes I never read it. But SHE read it first and then handed it to me with the caveat, "Maybe you shouldn't read this."

Ray, you send copies of the lost films to me at *** and we will put them in our safe. No one will know of it except you and I and ***.

After Rowlands is dead, you'll know where another safe copy is, just in case she somehow manages to get your copies away from you during the remainder of her sad, sad lifetime.

I can never watch OPENING NIGHT or WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE again and feel the same way. They are changed forever.

If there is ANYTHING we can do for you down here? arrange a screening, put you up for a visit, whatever, you let us know.

I am behind you ALL THE WAY.

She can't live forever.

And here's the one question I must ask regarding this matter: Where is NICK in all of this? Wouldn't the films pass down to HIM upon Gena's death? Would he not be more reasonable? What are your thoughts on this?

Kramer


Professor Carney,

My name's Matt, I wrote to you a while ago regarding Cassavetes scripts. This is my new e-mail address.

I decided to proceed with my hunt, but hearing your cautionary words about Miss Rowlands's general wishes, I did so very privately, with just me, a computer and a credit card, and I now have the old published copies of FACES and MINNIE & MOSKOWITZ, which is very cool. I also got my paws on something else; an original 3rd draft of SHE'S DELOVELY, yellowing pages and all, with revisions marked March 1988, revisions you can see dated throughout.

You wrote in CASS on CASS that the final lines of the script were written in the 5th November 1987 draft "...spit and sh** and honey..." and I'm positive you already have these 1988 revisions (they may be spelling corrections! I'm just trying to ingratiate myself by way of being useful).

Reading the scripts has been another illumination of the work and the thinking behind it; whether I'm on or off the track in my own perceptions of the world beyond the page is neither here nor there as it's helping me find MY secrets in what I imagine are HIS.

JC was so generous in the writing, so fearless about being considered 'good' or 'bad', almost as if there are whole lines and actions which he knew the actors would challenge, or argue, or refuse, further pushing it forward. The repeating of words, phrases, ideas, breaking all those stupefying RULES (one fool tried to tell me that I shouldn't have more than one character who's name started with a particular letter -- I didn't go back to him).

Seeing how fat he wrote characters, in FACES, Freddy(ie) and Forst (two F's I just realized -- ha!!), whole sections of them that they presumably acted but never appear in the cut, surely carrying it with them though into the scenes that do. The fact that Morgan Morgan hardly speaks in the screenplay (maybe because JC knew it was going to be Tim Carey?). That's been wonderful, making the struggle seem doable again.

Harmony is right about your book. It is the best companion to modern day film making we have, particularly in a world aggressively adhering to formulas that have failed. It's important to have the ghosts whispering in your ears; sometimes it feels like it's the only strength we have.

In Australia, with several of our click flavours of the month, all that's happening locally are a bunch of films trying to be either road movie's with hearts, or violent, oppressive tails of addiction or abuse. In short, we have the same mogols, just mini versions, trying desperately to be the new Mexico. The biggest excitement we get is when Warner Bros brings out a B+ superhero movie to the shores (and I'm not being a snob, I've acted in many of these, paying a lot of bills). But STEALTH, a pro America, Nuke 'em til they Puke, scary technology to destroy the 'evil doers' fiasco that came here last year, that was it for a lot of us. Too much. We tend to veer in Australia between quirky and somber, and something's GOTTA give.

My film's now finished and I'm taking it to the States later in the year for screenings, if we're in Boston, I'll send you an invite (no pressure).

One Question: You mention "collections" of screenplays with introductions by JC. Do you happen to know who published these? The year? If you're strapped for time and can't respond I understand.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Newton


RC:

I'm one more who accidentally discovered your work...

I thought I was utterly alone in not buying into Taranteenie, Lynched, and the Cohens. It was all utterly un-human garbage to me, and NO ONE agrees, except I found this brilliant academic who was willing to describe the emperor's wardrobe in it's non-existent reality.

Just wanted to affirm, encourage and acknowledge you in every way possible. Thank you. I'm working in the industry (not in Hollywood) on the creative side, always pushing for more humanity, reality, etc. within the boundaries that are there. Determined to start directing soon. Got in really because of Capra- because he was willing to inject some humanity and a little reality into the factory. Because he could move me and make me think and entertain me too. Yeah, i know how unhip, populist and "cornball" his stuff is... so I lay low.

THE SEVENTH SEAL is the neighborhood where I hope to arrive one day.

There must be thousands of us who have been profoundly impacted by your words. Your message hit something inside me, something I couldn't articulate but knew intuitively. Be sure that you are making a difference, planting seeds- They will germinate and bring forth fruit eventually.

You are so brave and honest, and I think that has as much effect as the content of what you are saying. I do work with some Hollywood people. I
stayed away from LA because the disease is so virulent, so pervasive.
To life, reality, humanity, and hope. To substance over form. To both
JC's...

Thanks, and please keep going always.

No reply necessary,

Timothy Sullivan


Dear Ray,

I was a student of yours back in 1990 or 1991. I have to admit that some of the films you showed us had me scratching my head, yawning, shocked, and otherwise bewildered. No doubt, that was the effect you intended.

So, I was paging through Entertainment Weekly (yes, your favorite scholarly publication) and came upon a DVD review of the Cassavetes Boxed set. It mentioned extras, and I thought "Wonder if Ray was a part of this." Your love of Cassavetes bordered on scary (although I have to admit that I never would have seen the great Minnie and Moskowitz without you). I went to Criterion's website. No mention.Odd, I thought. So I decided to Google the boxed set. Here I found your explanation of the full story. All I can say is.... How odd.

While I certainly can understand Gena Rowlands' desire to keep potentially unsavory items of her personal life private, I cannot understand how she can simply ignore the existence of alternate versions of her husband's works. Surely in a world where we have 70 different versions of Star Wars, she can afford to acknowledge her husband may have done more than one version of his films.

What saddens me most is that this seems to be a personal attack on a man who has done more to carry on her husband's legacy than anyone else. How many people would never have seen a Cassavetes film if they hadn't been in one of your classes or lectures? If she refuses to acknowledge he made another version, what in the hell grounds is she using to ask for the copy back? Maybe you should call it Ray Carney's Dark Shapes Caused By Blockage of Light from Hitting a Flat Surface" and release it as your own.

Can I suggest that for some fun, you call Gena back and let her know that you've been searching long and hard for the rumored lost versions of the Notebook and John Q and that you finally were able to get your copies from a woman who found them taped to the back of pull chain toilets somewhere in New York.

Good luck in your fight.

Oh, one more question. Was Big Trouble REALLY directed by Cassavetes?

Sincerely,
Rob Mattheu (COM' 93)
Louisville, KY


Prof. Carney,

Well, I got the Criterion boxed set. It's such a travesty your input wasn't included (or the alternate version of Shadows, for that matter), but I guess the films are the most important thing, being made widely available to the public and so on. Do you have access to any of the recordings you did for Criterion? I'd buy a CD and listen to it while I watched the DVDs or something. I guess there's always your written material to use as a guide. They can't take that away.

It's sad how I've almost completed my term here at SF State and I've learned nothing about film. I saw not one significant work of cinematic art in three and a half years in the program--with one exception. One of the professors showed Meantime and the students snickered and whispered throughout the entire thing. Then the professor apologized about the length of the film after the screening, since he could see the students were getting restless! The student next to me muttered under his breath, "You're not kidding, that was f***ing brutal." I'm thinking to myself, "These are kids who are focusing their academic life--and presumably their careers--on film; something that they don't even take seriously unless it's entertaining them!" They might as well major in sports broadcasting or something. Or "Recreation and Leisure" which is an actual major here. I keep waiting for seminars on Cassavetes, or Leigh, or Dreyer, or Tarkovsky, or Ozu (oh yeah, that's one other quality film I actually saw in my academic career here--Tokyo Story, although the screening of that didn't go over any better), or somebody worthwhile. You know what the director's seminars are this semester? Hitchcock (of course; he has one every year), Scorsese (another big favorite at SF State), and JAMES BOND (no joke).

Whoops, I started this out to commiserate on the exclusion of your Criterion work from the boxed set and it ended up as a tirade. I won't waste your time any further. Hope everything works out with all that stuff, and have a good year. Keep up the fight!

Darren Pardee


Subject: Completely Gutted about Criterion decision

Prof. Carney,

When I found out about your not being included in the box set it made me very upset, but then when I read on your site the reasons why...

I'm a filmmaker here in Brooklyn so I see the PR machinations that determine damn near everything in the medium. It's pretty disheartening. But rarities like your work are often the motivating factors that remind me of why I'm so invested in continuing my fight. Magazine culture be damned.

I'm seriously disgusted with Criterion about this. I know someone who works there and I'm going to send them loads of anger mail. Sick. Grave injustice when you think about waiting for the day all of this will be rectified.

Well, just wanted you to know of yet another one of many inspired by your work and thoughts. Thanks.

Ryan Monihan


Prof. Carney,

You're right about that documentary. Pretty awful. (Click here to see the page on the site devoted to Charles Kiselyak's Constant Forge.)

I just got a notification from SFSU's International Film Society that they will be showing a hot new British horror-comedy called "Shaun of the Dead" for their film of the week. Last week was "Troy." Good to know that my $10 student organizations fee is being well spent.

A few writers I've been reading lots of: Emily Dickinson, William Faulkner (I just finished Sound and the Fury for a class, but I read it three times in a row; it blew me away every time), and Wright Morris (I'm rereading Fire Sermon). I really really wish I could write like them. They are people who I think of when I remember Marilynne Robinson's description of "geniuses scheming to astonish us."

Good luck dealing with Norma. I mean Gena. She must be ready for her close-up.


Subject: Your commentaries as audio files?

Hello,

Whilst I have never seen a Cassavetes film, I have ordered the DVD set. I am disappointed to hear the difficulties with the set that you went through, I only found out about that after I ordered your set, but must admit I was surprised I didn't read your name associated with the extra features. So whilst this set isn't going to be perfect with regards to the extra features, at least it sounds like the films themselves will be presented in good quality. My only other option is to watch the films for the first time on worn out VHS tapes.

Anyway, I write to simply ask you if it is possible to get copies of the audio commentaries you did for the DVD from Criterion, then simply put them on your webpage as low (AM radio like) quality audio files? It would be great to hear what you have to say, even if it isn't on the DVDs.

Or is this not possible considering that Criterion now own the rights to the commentaries, even though they aren't going to be used?

Take care,

Simon Howson

Ray Carney's reply: When I was fired in May, I asked Criterion if, as a simple act of consideration for the hundreds of hours of work I had put into the set, they would kindly give me a copy of the audio commentary I had recorded. They refused. Another test of Peter Becker's character. Money trumps human values.


Hi Ray,

I received your booklet of essays on Cassavetes. Thank you!

I'm wondering if and when you'll be screening the first version of Shadows at BU. Are you teaching this spring? I'll be there when you screen it.

On a strictly personal note, I'd like to offer my services if you would consider a new idea: why not record your own commentaries for each Cassavetes film and sell them on your website as CDs? Or downloads? I'm no businessman as you know, but would offer you my heart and soul to help you record, edit, and press the CDs.

As a man, you are the most impressive of many. I know soldiers, survivors, quiet heroes, and fighters. You trump them all and I am proud to have studied under you. No matter what Criterion does, every one of us owes our appreciation for film art to you. Peter Becker can fire you from a disc set, but he cannot snuff your influence on so many souls.

Thanks Ray.

Sincerely,
Brad Kimbrough


The pages in this section of Ray Carney's www.Cassavetes.com site contain letters written to Prof. Carney from artists about the Shadows, Faces, Criterion, and Kiselyak situations. The letters written to Prof. Carney are in black; his responses and comments are in blue. The letters on this page are only a small sample of the ones he has received pertaining to these issues. Note that another large section of the site, "The Mailbag," contains many more letters about other matters. To go to "The Mailbag" click here.

To learn more about the events these letters are commenting on, consult the links in the top menu of any of the pages in this section, which tell the story of Carney's discoveries of a new print of John Cassavetes' Faces, his discovery of a print of the long-lost first version of Shadows, his work on the Criterion DVD box set of Cassavetes' films, and his work as the scholarly advisor on a documentary film about Cassavetes.

To read specifically about Gena Rowlands's response to Prof. Carney's discovery of the new Faces print, click here. To read specifically about 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, and the attempts of Gena Rowlands's and Al Ruban's to deny, suppress, or confiscate Prof. Carney's finds, click here.

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