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.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8 / Page 9

7 < Page 8 < 9

Click here for best printing of text


Dear Prof. Carney,

I have been thinking about what you fight against. And about your being attacked simply for doing what you do, for doing what scholars and historians do. (Click here and here and here to go to three pages that document some of the treatment of Carney by Gena Rowlands, Al Ruban, and Seymour Cassel.) You're not a film-as-entertainment critic, but everyone seems to treat you like you are! They just don't get it. But you already know that. I started thinking about how you are attacking sacred cows... cash cows at that ... and found this great article "Killing Sacred Calves."

http://www.youth.co.za/theedge/sacred_cows/sacred_cows07.asp

It's religious in nature, but spiritual truths remain spiritual truths wherever you find them. Good food for thought. You are in the "business of cow displacement..." What an apt phrase...

Also, sacred cow = a tightly held belief with which one is identified. Questioning the belief will be seen as questioning the holder of the belief and taken as a personal attack. Oftentimes, the more the sacred cow is at odds with reality, the more ferociously the believer will cling to it.

Western civilization's most sacred cow - the market.

Lastly, a quote I found - "Abbie Hoffman gave the best reason for attacking sacred cows: they 'make the tastiest hamburgers,' he said."

Keep fighting the good fight against those sacred cows... And for fun, here is something to play with - cow-tipping. Have you heard of that? Maybe an urban legend, but story has it that rural pranksters sneak up on sleeping cows and "tip" them over. Hmmm, maybe you can catch Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands napping ...

Yes, you teach your students to attack sacred cows or at least tip them over - and kill the sacred calves before they grow up...

George Woodard

Ray Carney replies:

Your Life is a Movie coverThanks, George, for the blasphemously sacred thoughts! I like the metaphor. I'm also interested in tipping over apple carts, rocking boats, and goring pet oxes.

I have a big long interview in a book that is coming out this fall (Your Life is a Movie, edited by Don Thompson and Nicholas Rombes) where I talk about doing that. (Click here to read about the book on Amazon.)

The world needs a little shaking up. But it always fights you to the death when you do it. I guess that's proof that it needs to be done.

About cow tipping Al and Gena when they are napping, though, I just don't know. My dad used to use an old Navy saying to refer to people like them: "Rust never sleeps."

But of course (as you know) my goal is not merely to fight and to knock down. It's creative. The only reason you tear down is to build something better on that spot. You prune the dead branches to make room for new growth. To make the flowers bloom in the spring. To help build a new world, a better, more caring one than the one we were born into.

RC


Subject: confusing movies and life

Hi Prof. Carney,

I've been pondering why people fall for Al Ruban's libels against you and your work. And why they take Gena seriously at film festivals as she tells her funny stories and presents her "happy face" version of her life with Cassavettes and her fantasy versions of her life with him and about how the films were made. (Click here and here to read examples of what the letter writer is referring to.)

A few thoughts back from my undergraduate psychology study days: People are more likely to vote for someone if they recognize their name. (How stupid is that????) And we tend to like people who are like us - lots of $$$$$$$$ are spent to make us identify with celebrities and recognize their names. Familiarity breeds association of positive attributes, not contempt, to images being sold to the undiscriminating public. People believe Gena because they identify with her in some way. They think they know her. They think she's their friend. For the past twenty years she has played sentimental roles in HBO and Showtime movies, and people think that she is those characters, that she is a soft, sentimental, kind-hearted person. They confuse her with the characters she plays, when in fact, if anyone looks at the way she has treated you, she is obviously very different from the characters she plays. She is tough and hard and argumentative. But they can't see that. Her charm covers it up. She's an actress. What do people expect, she's good at turning on the charm!

It's like wanting to vote for Jimmy Stewart for Senator on the basis of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Or Ronald Regan for President on the basis of his acting performances. That's not far from the truth. Look at how Dubya got into the White House... It has become the American Way. The man behind the screen pulling the levers to make everyone think he is Wizard of Oz. The special effects prove it, don't they? Has nothing to do with reality and the truth. It's all a fiction... it's all spin.

And history and scholarship is where it all comes out in the wash... That's what you do. It's not about fictions and spin. It may not be pretty. It may reveal that people have told lies. It's a search for truth. Difficult, challenging, contrary truth that may offend someone's fantasies or disappoint their rose colored visions of things. The facts not the myths.

Who cares what Gena and Al think? Just because they worked with Cassavetes doesn't mean that they were deep thinkers or great filmmakers. You don't see them making movies like JC's. They wouldn't know the first thing about it. What has either of them done without him? Has Ruban done anything? And Rowlands has made a bunch of sentimental TV movies. And when it comes to being critics or understanding what scholarship is about, they don't know the first thing about it. No thoughtful person would consider them to be experts on film-as-art criticism in ANY sense of the word. They are no different than any average Jane or John Doe on the street. Everyone has an opinion. Does that make them experts? I think not!!!!

Don't worry, the right people understand and appreciate what you do. You will win in the end, it just will take time. What you do will stand the test of time.

Jane Wheeler

Ray Carney replies:

You're right but I need to be reminded. I'm such an academic, that it's always so weird to me that in our "culture of celebrity" people do believe producers, directors, and movie stars....as if they had some deep inside view of the meaning of a movie, just because they showed up on the set for a couple months or wrote checks to finance it. I've seen it so many times. Look at the way film festival events are organized. Look at the press coverage. When Rowlands is at an event or has sent Ruban to represent her in her place (though she is often right there sitting beside him nodding her head as he says the dumbest things), people hang on every word like it was the gospel. They almost automatically believe that they have something important to say about Cassavetes' movies. You're right when you say that there is trust of, a love of the rich, famous, or powerful in our culture that is very very sick. The adulation of movie stars in particular is a real sickness in America.

Thanks for the thoughts and the support.

RC


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.

Page 1 / Page 2 / Page 3 / Page 4 / Page 5 / Page 6 / Page 7 / Page 8 / Page 9

Top of Page

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