This page contains a description of Ray Carney's Shadows. To learn how to obtain the book, please click here.

Press Release on Shadows

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"Ray Carney is a tireless researcher who probably knows more about the shooting of Shadows than any other living being, including Cassavetes when he was alive, since Carney, after all, has the added input of ten or more of the film’s participants who remember their own unique versions of the reality we all shared.’ —Maurice McEndree, producer and editor of Shadows

"Bravo! Cassavetes is fortunate to have such a diligent champion. I am absolutely dumbfounded by the depth of your research into this film.... Your appendix...is a definitive piece of scholarly detective work.... The Robert Aurthur revelation is another bombshell and only leaves me wanting to know more.... The book movingly captures the excitement and dynamic Cassavetes discovered in filmmaking; and the perseverance and struggle of getting it up there on the screen." Tom Charity, Film Editor, Time Out magazine

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John Cassavetes’ Shadows is generally regarded as the start of the independent feature movement in America. Made for $40,000 with a nonprofessional cast and crew and borrowed equipment, the film caused a sensation on its London release in 1960.

The film traces the lives of three siblings in an African-American family: Hugh, a struggling jazz singer, attempting to obtain a job and hold onto his dignity; Ben, a Beat drifter who goes from one fight and girlfriend to another; and Lelia, who has a brief love affair with a white boy who turns on her when he discovers her race. In a delicate, semi-comic drama of self-discovery, the main characters are forced to explore who they are and what really matters in their lives.

Shadows ends with the title card "The film you have just seen was an improvisation," and for decades was hailed as a masterpiece of spontaneity, but shortly before Cassavetes’ death, he confessed to Ray Carney something he had never before revealed – that much of the film was scripted. He told him that it was shot twice and that the scenes in the second version were written by him and Robert Alan Aurthur, a professional Hollywood screenwriter. For Carney, it was Cassavetes‘ Rosebud. He spent ten years tracking down the surviving members of the cast and crew, and piecing together the true story of the making of the film.

Carney takes the reader behind the scenes to follow every step in the making of the movie – chronicling the hopes and dreams, the struggles and frustrations, and the ultimate triumph of the collaboration that resulted in one of the seminal masterworks of American independent filmmaking.

Highlights of the presentation are more than 30 illustrations (including the only existing photographs of the dramatic workshop Cassavetes ran in the late fifties and of the stage on which much of Shadows was shot, and a still showing a scene from the "lost" first version of the film); and statements by many of the film’s actors and crew members detailing previously unknown events during its creation.

One of the most interesting and original aspects of the book is a nine-page Appendix that "reconstructs" much of the lost first version of the film for the first time. The Appendix points out more than 100 previously unrecognized differences between the 1957 and 1959 shoots, all of which are identified in detail both by the scene and the time at which they occur in the current print of the movie (so that they may be easily located on videotape or DVD by anyone viewing the film).

By comparing the two versions, the Appendix allows the reader to eavesdrop on Cassavetes’ process of revision and watch his mind at work as he re-thought, re-shot, re-edited his movie. None of this information, which Carney spent more than five years compiling, has ever appeared in print before (and, as the presentation reveals, the few studies that have attempted to deal with this issue prior to this are proved to have been completely mistaken in their assumptions). The comparison of the versions and the treatment of Cassavetes’ revisionary process is definitive and final, for all time.

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Ray Carney is Professor of Film and American Studies and Director of the undergraduate and graduate Film Studies programs at Boston University. He is the author or editor of more than ten books, including the critically acclaimed The Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World; The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies; American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra; Speaking the Language of Desire: The Films of Carl Dreyer; American Dreaming; and the newly published Cassavetes on Cassavetes, and John Cassavetes: The Adventure of Insecurity.

He co-curated the Beat Culture and the New America show for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and is General Editor of the Cambridge Film Classics series.

He is regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on independent film and American art and culture, and is a frequent speaker at film festivals around the world. He maintains a web site devoted to independent film at: <www.Cassavetes.com>. He may be reached by e-mail at: raycarney@usa.net.

Published by the British Film Institute (London, England)

Distributed in America by the University of California Press at Berkeley

ISBN: 0-85170-835-8

88 pages; thirty illustrations

This page contains a description of Ray Carney's Shadows. To learn how to obtain the book, please click here.

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Text Copyright 2003 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.