John Cassavetes' Shadows is
one of the pioneering works of the American independent movement.
Made for $40,000 with a nonprofessional cast and crew, using
and borrowed 16mm equipment, the film depicts a few days in the
lives of three African-American siblings – Hugh, Ben,
and Lelia. Hugh, the big brother, is the responsible one, who
and his siblings both financially and emotionally. As a floundering
jazz singer unable to get his career off the ground, he struggles
to maintain his dignity and composure as he skirmishes with the
impresario Ackerman, his manager Rupert, and his younger brother
Ben. Ben is Hugh's opposite – a self-absorbed, self-pitying
Beat drifter and carouser who mooches Hugh's hard earned cash
it cruising for girls and getting into barroom brawls with his
buddies Tom and Dennis. But the de facto star of Cassavetes' film
stars is Hugh and Ben's flirtatious, self-dramatizing, light-skinned
little sister, Lelia. She is dating an older man, David, when Shadows begins,
but meets a callow Don Juan named Tony at a party and has sex
with him the next day. When he deserts her after he discovers
her race, her world falls apart.
Given the tininess of
its budget and the roughness of its production values, the film
is surprisingly delicate and nuanced – a subtle, semi-comic
drama of self-discovery in which the characters explore who they
what ultimately matters in their lives.
with a now famous title card: "The film you have just seen
was an improvisation,"
and for decades was hailed as a masterpiece of Beat spontaneity.
Shortly before Cassavetes' death, however, I had a "Rosebud"
conversation with him in which he told me something he had never
before revealed – that much of the film, as it comes down
to us, was not improvised, but scripted. He said that Shadows was
in fact shot twice. During the first period of filming, between
February and mid-May 1957, most of the scenes were the product
of guided improvisations. Cassavetes would give the actors situations
to react to and dictate the dramatic outcome of the scene, but
allowed the actors to come up with most of the actual dialogue.
year and a half spent in postproduction (delayed due to problems
with the poorly recorded soundtrack), the approximately 60-minute,
16mm print was shown in November 1958 to invited audiences at three
free midnight screenings at New York's Paris Theater.
But Cassavetes went on
to say that he was so dissatisfied with the audience response that
he decided he would have to reshoot and re-edit much of the film
if he ever intended to release it. Immediately after the Paris Theater
screenings he contacted a screenwriter he had met two years before
while working on Edge of the City, Robert Alan Aurthur. Earlier
in 1958 Cassavetes had commissioned Aurthur to write a television
pilot for him to star in, and he approached him again to write a
series of scenes to be added to the Shadows footage. Cassavetes
also had another friend, photographer Sam Shaw, put his camera on
a tripod in the back of a screening room and take dozens of still
photographs, documenting the actors' clothing, the positions of
props and furniture, the layout of sets, and details of lighting
and framing, so that he could attempt to match the new footage with
the old as accurately as possible.
Once the new scenes were
written, sometime around February 1959, Cassavetes regathered his
cast and crew, and spent approximately two weeks shooting the new
material, working around the clock in marathon sessions running
from twelve to twenty hours a day. The revised composite print,
consisting of a mix of old and new footage with new sound and music
added, was assembled in the spring, summer, and early fall at the
same facilities in which the first version had been edited (Movielab
at 619 West 54th Street in New York) and in November 1959 was premiered
in Amos Vogel's Cinema 16 series. It is the print that comes down
Given that the 1958
print of Shadows – and not the 1959 version – was
really Cassavetes' first feature film, I asked the filmmaker
two questions: First,
which scenes were in the initial version; and second, how could
I get to see it? Unfortunately, the news was bad on both counts.
In answer to the first question, Cassavetes told me that he could
not remember which scenes were done during which period of shooting.
In response to the second, he had even more discouraging news.
He said only one print of the first version had ever existed,
at some point in the 1960s or 1970s, seeing no reason to hold onto
it, he had "given it to a film school" whose name
he claimed not to remember. (Jonas Mekas subsequently told
me of a similar
conversation he had with Cassavetes in which the filmmaker was
slightly more specific and said that he had donated the print
of the first
version to "a school in the Midwest.") However, after
spending months querying various schools and archives in the Midwest
and elsewhere, I have concluded that the 1958 print no longer exists.
Whoever Cassavetes gave it to undoubtedly did not appreciate its
uniqueness, and since its sound and picture quality were admittedly
quite poor, it was probably discarded as unscreenable sometime
the donation was made.
died shortly after my talk with him, our conversation convinced
one last option was available – particularly since a few
members of the cast and crew were still alive. By drawing on their
and studying tell-tale internal details visible in the current
compilation print (particularly given the fact that two full years
the shoots and the process of matching the early and late footage
was quite imperfect), I was convinced that it might be possible
definitively to identify the footage from the two periods of shooting
in order imaginatively to reconstruct the lost first version.
I devoted my spare time
during the next fifteen years to doing two things: The first
was searching for a surviving copy of the original version of
the film. Between 1987 and the present, I made announcements
at events I moderated. I telephoned or emailed hundreds of universities,
film archives, film collectors, film critics, and others who
had any connection with the early screenings to find out if they
had any leads as to the existence of the first version. There
were a number of high hopes and false alarms – and I spent thousands
of dollars of my own money traveling to dozens of cities visiting
people who told me they thought they might have information about
the early print and made thousands of additional phone calls
pursuing leads. As of the end of 2001, nothing concrete had come
of any of these trips and conversations. However, as I have noted
elsewhere in my writing, I did find a lost "long" print
of Faces while looking for the Shadows print.
here to read
about the Faces discovery. Click
read about the recent discovery of the first version of Shadows.
here to read about the response of the world's press to
The other thing I did
at the same time was to track down and interview everyone I could
with either period of shooting – actors Hugh Hurd, Lelia
Goldoni, David Pokotilow, and Tony Ray; producers Maurice McEndree
Cassel (who were close to Cassavetes throughout his early career
and involved in many different projects with him); and friends,
advisors, and crew members Erich Kollmar, George O'Halloran, Burton
Lane, Harry Mastrogeorge, Al Ruban, Tom Bower, Meta Shaw, Sam Shaw,
and Gena Rowlands. Unfortunately, Robert Alan Aurthur was already
dead by the time I had the conversation with Cassavetes. Although
Jean Aurthur, the writer's surviving second wife, was unable to
locate any material connected with her husband's involvement in
the film, as partial confirmation of Cassavetes' words, Erich Kollmar
told me that Aurthur sat in on the set during some of the shooting
of the first version, and David Pokotilow confirmed that Aurthur
was present during much of the re-shoot. Another invaluable source
of information was provided by approximately 2500 photographs taken
by Marvin Lichtner documenting almost every aspect of the first
shoot-from details of the Variety Arts stage set and Cassavetes'
office, to a virtual shot-by-shot record of the scenes and events
filmed for the first version, to photographs of Cassavetes working
with musicians to score the film, working with Maurice McEndree
editing it, and introducing it at its world premiere at the Paris
Theater in New York.
I also viewed all available
prints to check for variations in the edit (which one particular
print in the possession of the Library of Congress does display).
And I spent months meticulously studying the current print-scene-by-scene,
shot-by-shot, and frame-by-frame where necessary – to identify
minor discrepancies in actors' appearances or details in the locations,
sets, and costumes that could yield information about when and
where each scene was shot. (One final source of information is
pursued: Ross Lipman, a preservationist at the UCLA Film and Television
Archive who has access to the original A and B rolls of the 1959
negative, has kindly agreed to provide me with a list of edge markings
and notes about any emulsion or processing differences that may
be indicative of different shooting dates; as of the time I am
writing this, this material has yet to be provided.)
The table contains the
detailed results. The amount of information I was able to excavate
from the current print or that was revealed to me by the cast and
crew far exceeded my most optimistic expectations. The changes
made could not have been more radical or more revealing. Throughout
his career, the filmmaker often extensively altered his films
the editing room, and what I discovered was the degree to which,
in assembling the second print of Shadows, he rethought virtually
every aspect of his film – changing, reconceptualizing, deepening
characters and scenes in scores of ways.
The basic facts that
emerged are as follows: To start with, approximately 20 minutes
of footage in the first version (one-third of its original 60-minute
running time) were simply cut out and discarded, and approximately
40 minutes of new footage were added (making for a new running time
of just over 80 minutes, meaning that the current print is approximately
half-scripted and half-improvised).
But cutting and adding
footage were only part of Cassavetes' process of re-thinking his
material. During the re-editing stage, he changed the earlier print
in many subtle, but important ways. Of the 40 minutes of footage
retained from the first version, more than a third (15 minutes)
were moved to new positions within the edit to change their narrative
function and meaning: the rehearsal hall scene; Ben, Tom, and Dennis's
early barroom pickup scene; the pre-fight, argument, fight, and
post-fight scenes that now appear near the end of the film (but
which came much earlier in the 1958 print); and the rock-and-roll
party that now comprises the credits sequence (which originally
occurred in the middle of the film). Another "old" scene,
Tony's call from a pay phone, was both relocated and radically shortened
(going from an approximate two-minute to a five-second running time)
to reverse its meaning. Finally, the nightclub scene and final fight
scenes were lightly re-edited, and the rehearsal hall scene was
extensively re-edited (with almost entirely new footage, only a
few shots being retained from the earlier version, with new dialogue
looped into them).
In terms of sound, new
music (including a series of evocative saxophone solos) was added
throughout the film and much of the music from the first version
was recycled and mixed into newly shot scenes.
The final changes were
that during the re-edit, Cassavetes rethought the position of
of the newly shot scenes – Ben, Tom, and Dennis's "I
got the money!" moment and the reshot rehearsal hall scene – and
placed them in different locations from where he had originally
intended them to occur.
The establishment of
basic facts about the creation of the two versions, and the reconstruction
as far as possible of what was in the first version has obvious
historical value. But I would not have devoted so many years to
this project if I did not think it had far greater significance
than a merely archeological one.
The comparison of the
two versions provides an almost unprecedented opportunity to
behind the scenes into the workshop of the artist. We can eavesdrop,
as it were, on Cassavetes' creative process, watching his mind
work as he changes his understanding of his film and his characters.
His revisions – the scenes he added, deleted, looped new
dialogue into, added new music to, or moved to new positions
as he re-viewed,
re-filmed, and re-edited Shadows – provide a rare
glimpse into the inner workings of the heart and mind of one of
artists of the past fifty years, as he experiments with new forms
of expression and responds to his own previous ideas.
NOTE ABOUT SEEING THE FIRST VERSION OF SHADOWS
Gena Rowlands has expressed her desire to confiscate and suppress the print of the first version of Shadows. She has threatened legal action if Ray Carney shows it in public and refused to allow it to be released on videotape or disk. However, Ray Carney has been advised by intellectual property lawyers that the print and the right to screen it are completely and absolutely free of copyright restrictions and that it is his to screen and distribute as he sees fit.
also that the newly discovered first version of Shadows is
not to be confused with the so-called "restored" UCLA
print, which is merely a copy of the same print that
has been in circulation for the past forty-five years.
The UCLA print is identical to the existing version of Shadows.
There are no differences. The first version, on the other
hand, is a completely different film, with different
scenes, shots, and dialogue.
a more detailed account of Ray Carney's discovery of
the first version of Shadows, click
For more information about the attempts of Al Ruban and
Gena Rowlands to seize and suppress the print and prevent
future screenings of it, click
The top menu on both of the pages that will open has
more choices if you want to learn more about Rowlands,
Ruban, and the Shadows situation.
Ruban and Gena Rowlands claim that Cassavetes did not want
the first version of Shadows shown. They are simply
read Ray Carney's response to a reader who asked about
this issue. What were Cassavetes' feelings about screenings
of the first version? Did he want it to be suppressed?
Did he suppress it?
For anyone interested
in learning more, my The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism,
Modernism, and the Movies (Cambridge, England and New York,
New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994) has an extended critical
discussion of the film. My Shadows monograph in the British
Film Institute "Film Classics" series (distributed
in the United States by the University of California Press) and
my John Cassavetes: The Adventure of Insecurity (Boston: Company
C, 2000) have additional information about the film's production
history and Cassavetes' reconceptualization of it during the reshooting
and re-editing process. The BFI book includes a preliminary, abridged
version of the table that follows, which appears here for the first
time in its final form.
* * *
and sections of the film are identified both by their content and
by the running time at which they occur in the current print so
that they may be easily located on videotape, DVD, or film.
(from the first frame of the 1959 print)
||Year scene was
||Summary of the
shot, scene, or sequence (Shaded scenes were improvised in Spring
1957 and were the basis of the Fall 1958 assembly. Unshaded
scenes were scripted and shot in late Winter 1959 and added
to the Fall 1959 print.)
||Basis for the
dating (See Key #1)
party. The credits. Ben makes his way through the crowd and
cowers in the corner. (Moved from its 1958 position following
the "Mary had a little lamb" moment.)
||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
||The initial scene
of the 1958 print. Old friends Tony and David meet on the street.
David invites Tony to his party that night.
||Most Happy Fella.
Ben walks down the street.
||BC, c, d, e, f
||6, 8, 9, 10, 11,
||David and Lelia
go into a pharmacy and David caresses Lelias hair.
||"I got the money!"
Ben runs up to Tom and Dennis with twenty dollars; a fight ensues
with a friend; they head off to carouse. (When it was shot,
this scene was intended to follow the rehearsal hall scene;
it was moved to this position during the re-editing process.)
||BC, DS, TA, h
||6, 9, 11, 12, 13,
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 84
||Ben goes inside
the rehearsal hall and asks Hugh for money, while Hugh argues
with Rupert about his musical arrangements and with Ackerman
about how much he will be paid. Hughs perpetual tardiness is
||i, j, k
||20, 21, 22
||Ben, Tom, and Dennis
go into a bar and try to pick up three girls. (In the 1958 print,
this scene immediately followed the rehearsal hall scene.)
||BC, DS, TA, e, f,
||2, 4, 6, 11, 13,
23, 24, 84
||Ben walks down the
street and into the entrance of a building. (In the 1958 print,
this scene preceded the cut rehearsal hall scene above.)
||6, 8, 9, 11, 25,
||Ben goes inside
the rehearsal hall and asks Hugh for money, while Hugh argues
with Rupert and Ackerman about the indignity of introducing
a girlie line. (When it was re-shot in 1959, this scene was
intended to occur earlier; it was moved to this position during
the re-editing process.)
||BC, JA, HH, i, j,
k, m, n
||3, 4, 13, 14, 18,
20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
||Five shots from
the 1957 shoot are edited into the rehearsal hall sequence at
7:207:41; 8:148:20; 9:219:31 9:359:49;
||BC, JA, HH, e, j,
||The scene running
from 3:00 to 6:16 appeared at this point in the 1958 edit.
||Lelia sees Hugh
off at Grand Central. Hugh runs off and waves.
||HH, LG, i, o, p
||32, 33, 34, 35,
||Hugh meets Rupert
and they run for a bus.
||HH, f, o
||6, 9, 27, 50
||Lelia walks past
movie theaters and is accosted by a stranger.
||LG, i, l, p, q
||6, 9, 10, 27, 33,
38, 39, 24
Sam, and Rupert rehearse jokes in Sams apartment. Hugh complains
about the indignity of what he has to do.
22, 27, 28, 30, 40, 41, 42, 43
||The nightclub dressing
room. In the foreground, the girls talk and prepare for the
show; in the background, Hugh argues with Rupert about his musical
arrangements and with Ackerman about how much he is being paid.
||22, 27, 30
||The nightclub. Two
comedians perform; Rupert and Ackerman watch Hugh on stage.
Hugh is cut off and the girlie line comes out.
||JA, e, k, m, n,
||3, 4, 20, 22, 27,
28, 30, 36, 42, 44, 45, 46, 83
||At a table in the
soda fountain. David, Lelia, Ben, Tom, and Dennis.
||BC, DP, DS, TA,
LG, h, i, j, l
||6, 11, 19, 33, 37,
||Ben, Tom, and Dennis
in the Museum of Modern Art sculpture garden.
||BC, DS, TA, h, i,
||6, 11, 19, 48, 49
party. Tony flirts with Davids girl.
party. Tony tries to pick up various girls.
||DP, LG, TR, r, u,
||7, 40, 51, 73
||David, Lelia, and
Tony converse at Davids party.
||DP, LG, TR, i, r,
||7, 28, 33, 40, 52
||David, Lelia, and
Tony walk through Central Park. Moe greets them. Lelia and Tony
||DP, LG, TR, i, l
||4, 6, 7, 24, 53,
||Lelia and Tony talk
on the sidewalk in front of his apartment.
||LG, TR, i, r, y
||6, 15, 19, 33, 54,
||Lelia and Tony in
Tonys apartment hugging and kissing.
||LG, TR, i, z
||27, 33, 56
||Tony seduces Lelia
in a near-rape scene.
Lelia and Tony in bed.
||LG, TR, i, l, r,
||6, 15, 19, 24, 27,
28, 33, 48, 52, 56, 57
||"I love you truly."
Lelia and Tony and the cabby.
||LG, TR, i, r, aa
||4, 27, 33, 58
||The sequence running
from 1:13:29 to 1:18:40 appeared at this point in the 1958 edit.
||At the Carruthers
apartment. The three boys play cards and make a phone call;
Lelia and Tony dance and lie on the couch together; Hugh and
Rupert unexpectedly return; discovering Lelias race, Tony says
he has to go. Hugh comforts Lelia.
||BC, DS, HH, LG,
TA, TR, i, e, bb
||6, 15, 22, 27, 59,
60, 61, 62, 63, 83, 84
||Top Secret Affair.
Tony makes a phone call. (In the 1958 print, it was to David
claiming Lelia seduced him; in the 1959 edit, it is a call to
||7, 10, 27, 64
#1: How the dates of scenes were determined (an excerpt)
(who acted with Cassavetes again in The Dirty Dozen)
used a sunlamp during the spring of 1957 and is tanned
in all of
the scenes from that period (although the lighting occasionally
makes it hard to see). He had discontinued use of it
and is much paler. A second difference in Ben's appearance
in the two shoots is that during the 1957 shoot, he frequently
wore a light-colored V-neck sweater with three dark stripes
around the neckline, and less frequently a beige crew-neck
sweater. In the 1959 shoot, in place of either of these sweaters,
he wore a dark navy sweater with a ribbed turtleneck
variegated pattern just below the neckline, across the upper
chest area. The presence or absence of any one of these
sweaters is an absolute marker of the 1957 or 1959 shoot.
The light-colored sweaters are visible in several early
when his jacket is open at the top or he is wearing a sport
coat, and in scenes late in the film when the sleeves
hem of the sweater extend beyond the sleeves or bottom edge
of his leather jacket. The dark-colored sweater with
pattern is clearly visible in the rehearsal hall scene. The
only two sources of potential confusion are in the 1957
hall shots, where Ben wears a dark colored turtle-neck under
his sport coat, and in several exterior scenes in the
shoot, when Ben wears a dark scarf under his jacket over
the lighter-colored, triple-stripe V-neck sweater. Lelia
gave the scarf to him as a present during the first shoot,
and any scene in which he wears the scarf around his
neck or carries it in his pocket positively dates the
an early one. (He takes the scarf off near the end of the
movie and has it in his pocket in some of the final
third, less clear marker of the two shoots is Ben's hair.
In the 1957 shoot, he wore his hair at two different lengths:
long and straight in a couple of the 1957 rehearsal hall shots,
but shorter, curlier, and more stringy in his other 1957 scenes,
including all of the ones filmed on the Variety Arts stage,
the early scene with the three girls, and all of the scenes
in the final ten minutes of the film. (The reason for the
change of length is that early in the 1957 shoot, but after
the filming of the early version of the rehearsal hall sequence,
Cassavetes asked all three boys to get haircuts.) In every
scene of the 1959 shoot, Ben's hair is fairly long and bushy.
The scenes in the rehearsal hall, the soda fountain, and the
bedroom interaction with Lelia may be used as reference points
for the length of his hair at that time.
There are a few additional minor
differences in Ben's appearance in the two shoots. In the
1959 shoot, the left collar on his leather jacket has curled
over nearly in a complete circle, while in the 1957 shoot,
the curl has not progressed as far. Ben wears white leather
gloves in several of the scenes in the 1957 shoot (e.g. in
the scene near the end of the film in which the altercation
with the three boys occurs and the subsequent bar scene in
which he says that he has learned a lesson), but never during
the reshoot. Finally, during some of the 1959 reshoot period
he had a toothache and a slightly swollen cheek, and he occasionally
turns his head away from the camera to conceal the swelling
or uses an ice pack to ease the pain (as in the soda fountain
||Davey Jones wore
a plain collar in the 1957 shoot, but a collar pin in the 1959
||In the 1957 shoot,
David Pokotilows hair is short and neatly trimmed; in 1959,
it is a little longer, and it sticks up higher and looks fairly
1957 and 1959 scenes may be told apart by the condition of his
trench coat, particularly the belt. In the first shoot, the
coat appears to be new and the belt is smooth, lies flat around
his waist, and is neatly buckled in the front. In the second
shoot, the coat is wrinkled and the belt is twisted and secured
by being knotted and tucked in on itself. Its 1957 appearance
is visible in the sequence in which Dennis walks into the restaurant
where the boys meet the three girls near the start of the film,
the sequence in the Carruthers apartment where the boys call
the airline stewardess, and the drinking scene before the final
fight (all of which show the new coat with its flat, neatly
laced belt), while its 1959 appearance is illustrated by the
scene in the MoMA sculpture garden.
Dennis's face and hair change
slightly in the two years between the shoots, but noticing the
change requires becoming very familiar with his appearance through
repeated viewings. (In 1959 Sallas also played the bartender
in Cassavetes' Johnny Staccato series.)
||Hugh Hurd's white
cap is different in the two shoots. In the 1957 shoot, the hat
has a plain back and the brim and front are secured with a single
snap fastener; in the 1959 shoot, the hat has a small ornamental
buckle at the back and the front of the hat is sewed onto the
brim in a line. In the 1957 shoot, Hugh also looks slightly
younger than he does in 1959.
Hurd's hair is one of the hardest
aspects of his appearance to date. It varied during the 1957
shoot, ranging from looking long, shaggy, and unkempt in some
of the scenes shot on the stage, to short and neatly trimmed
in the 1957 shots of the rehearsal studio scene.
Hurd remained friends with Cassavetes
throughout his life. He subsequently appeared in A Woman
Under the Influence and was offered a chance to act in Gloria,
though he didn't appear in it.
||Jack Ackerman, the
impresario, wears a collar pin and light-colored tie in the
rehearsal studio and nightclub scenes in the 1957 shoot, but
a straight collar and a darker tie in the 1959 reshoot. My Cassavetes
on Cassavetes and John Cassavetes: A Life in Art
have much more information about Ackerman and his relationship
||By her own report,
Lelia Goldoni's hair was much longer in 1957 than it was in
1959-mid-back length in the first shoot versus a little less
than shoulder length in 1959. In the earlier shoot, she often
wears her hair up in a braided bun in the back; whereas in the
1959 shoot, she wears it gathered at the back or down (sometimes
with a ribbon in it as in the bedroom scene in her apartment).
Another major change in her appearance
between the two versions is in the size and shape of her eyebrows.
In the early shoot, they are thick and natural in shape; in
the scripted version, they are much thinner and more finely
sculpted. Goldoni also looks markedly thinner in 1959 than she
does in 1957, having lost most of her baby fat in the two years
between the shoots.
She also wears different dresses
and coats in the two shoots. Her mother was an excellent seamstress
and made most of her clothing, which is why it is quite fancy
Goldoni later appears in two other
Cassavetes' productions: episodes of Johnny Staccato
and The Lloyd Bridges Show.
||Tom Allen wears
the same dark crew-neck sweater over a white shirt with the
collar out in each of the three scenes in which he appears in
the reshoot (although he has a coat over his shirt and sweater
in the "I got the money!" scene). During the 1957
shoot his most frequent outfit is a white T-shirt, dark colored
shirt, and sport coat with a striped pattern to the fabric.
The two sets of clothing are absolute markers of the two shoots.
Tom's hair is also slightly different
in the two shoots. In 1957 it is slightly longer on top, unparted,
and trimmed with clippers on the sides. (All three boys' hair
is freshly cut in the early scene with the three girls, the
scene leading up to the fight, and the fight scene, because
Cassavetes gave them money to get haircuts immediately before
these scenes were shot.) In 1959, his hair is slightly shorter
on top (his pompadour does not extend out as far in front),
slightly longer on the sides (not trimmed with a clipper but
combed in position), and has a combed part on the right side.
Tom's complexion is also ruddier
and rougher in many scenes in the first shoot than the second.
||During the 1957
shoot Tony Rays hair was longer and thicker on top and less
receded along the temples and sides than in the 1959 shoot.
His face looks younger and his body thinner in 1957 than 1959.
In the 1959 outdoor scenes, his topcoat is also much heavier
and better tailored, and his scarf is more carefully folded
and placed around his neck than in the 1957 shoot.
|In his Movie
Journal, entry of January 27, 1960 (New York: Collier
Books, 1972 p. 11), Jonas Mekas mentions that the rock-and-roll
did not begin the first version. Since this scene was definitely
filmed in 1957 and included in the first version (based
hair, sweater, and drums – and the fact that all unused
footage was destroyed after the 1958 edit was assembled),
it is almost
certain that in the first version it followed Bens fight
with Hugh. Ben fought Hugh, left the apartment, walked the
went down into a basement club self-pityingly intoning "Mary
had a little lamb," and cowered in a corner.
The preceding material
from Key #1 represents only a brief excerpt from the lengthy discussion
of the two versions of John Cassavetes' Shadows that is available
in Ray Carney's published writing.
The above material
represents the first ten notes that appear in Key #1 of the table.
In its complete form, Key #1 has a total of 42 notes discriminating
the two versions of Shadows. All of Keys #1 and #2, as well
as much other additional material about Shadows, is available
by following the link at the bottom of this page. A brief excerpt
from Key #2 follows.
#2: Critical observations and miscellaneous points
In the 1958 edit, this scene did not appear in
the credits sequence but followed the "Mary had a little lamb"
scene (at 58:28) where Ben goes down into the basement club.
The move made Bens character seem less narcissistic. In the
scenes original position following Bens fight with Jackie
and Hugh, his cowering played as being petulant and self-absorbed.
By being moved into the credits sequence, his actions are
less narrowly defined. A viewer may be puzzled as to why he
behaves this way, but does not judge him adversely.
is briefly visible from behind, dancing and nuzzling a girl
during the appearance of the musical credit for "Beautiful."
Seymour Cassel is briefly visible in several shots, drinking
beer and looking directly into the camera.
scene is an illustration of the impressionistic quality of
many of the scenes in the 1958 print. Its montage effect would
be much more striking if the scene did not run underneath
the credits but occurred in its original position in the middle
of the film. See item "27" for more on this aspect of the
Lelia Goldoni told me that Ben was not a trumpeter
but a drummer in the first version. That is the reason he
is carrying bongos in the first scene and has drum sticks
in his back pocket in the last. She reported that Carruthers
chose the instrument himself since he had fantasies of being
a drummer, although he never learned to play. As he so often
did, Cassavetes based the character on the actors real-life
personality. Cassavetes may have changed his instrument in
the second version in order to be able to have him finger
a trumpet in the bedroom scene.
is an inconsistency in the first version footage, however.
Although Ben carries drums or sticks in the scenes I cited,
in the 1957 bar scene with the three girls and three boys,
he tells Nancy he plays the trumpet. Although the line may
have been looped in 1959, it doesnt appear to have been.
Pir Marini is the pianist in the rehearsal hall,
nightclub, and rock-and-roll party. See note "4."
of the actors who played minor roles played more than one
part. The two actresses in the "happiness boys"
scene late in the film, Carol Stern (a brunette) and Carrie
Radison (a strawberry blonde), are also in the nightclub chorus
line (the first and fifth girls in the line), and Carrie Radison
is also a bar patron in the early pickup scene. Also see note
Several crew members doubled
as actors and vice-versa. Jay Crecco did sound; Ronald Maccone
and Cliff Carnell worked as grips. (Carnell later appeared
in Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence.) All three
are in the final argument and fight scenes. Bob Reeh built
sets and played the cabby. Seymour Cassel worked as a grip
and appeared in the "I got the money!" scene. (See
note "12.") Jack Ackerman wrote two of the film's
songs in addition to acting (and collaborated with Cassavetes
on many other subsequent projects). Maurice McEndree built
sets, edited, and produced the film, and appears in the Central
Park scene. (He subsequently worked with Cassavetes as a jack-of-all-trades
on Faces as well.) For other examples of actors or crew members
doing double duty, see notes "1," "23,"
The same piece of rock-and-roll music is associated
with both of Bens lonely movements around the edges
of club life – in the rock-and-roll party and the "Mary had a little
Musical repetition was forced on Cassavetes by
the limited amount of material he had to work with. (See items
"l" and "19.") However, the recyclings created an interesting
artistic effect. The repetitions in the scoring create a kind
of tone-poem in which particular musical phrases are associated
with particular characters and events. See notes "5," "11,"
"24," "50," "55," 63," and "67."
was extremely jealous and rivalrous in romantic affairs and,
in general, fiercely competitive with other men in every imaginable
way. (See the second paragraph of note "18.") Much
of the first version of the film focused on situations involving
male competition or rivalry: Ben's struggle with Hugh; Tony's
stealing of David's girl; Ben's with Tony; Hugh's with Rupert;
Ben, Tom, and Dennis's fight with the three boys they meet.
Although it is still present, the re-shoot moves away from
this issue. (Many of Cassavetes' subsequent films, from Too
Late Blues and Faces to A Woman Under the Influence
and Opening Night will include scenes of sexual rivalry
in which more than one man competes for the attention or affection
of a woman.)
Note the mismatch in Bens clothing in shots within
these sequences from the 1957 shoot. Note also that some of
the shots were taken from indoors through a plate glass window
using a telephoto lens looking out onto the street, so that
the passers-by in the extreme foreground do not notice the
One of the hazards of placing the camera in an
environment with non-actors is that bystanders look into the
camera or at the actors. It is the reason Cassavetes concealed
the camera from view as much as possible (by photographing
through a storefront window) or placed it at a distance from
the actors (as in the telephoto shots of Lelia and Tony on
the sidewalk or by shooting Hugh running through Grand Central
from a position high up on the grand stairway).
Cassavetes employs a number of heavy-handed metaphoric
devices in the film – e.g. the symbolic "mask" references (see
note "48") and the use of background objects to
comment on foreground events or to expand a scenes
importance: e.g. the use of the movie or play titles behind
characters in the
Most Happy Fella, Girls, Inc., Top Secret
Affair, and A Night to Remember scenes. These "arty"
effects are among the weakest and most self-conscious aspects
of the film. Cassavetes subsequent films are occasionally
marred by similar strained attempts to be "artistic." See
note "27" for a more general discussion of this
Minguss bass (alone or with drums, clarinet, and/or
tambourine in the background) is associated with the wandering
of Ben and his buddies.
Cassel is the figure in the light-colored jacket who comes
up to the boys and is punched. He was a close personal friend
of Cassavetes' who would act in many of his later films and
in this instance was rewarded for his friendship by being
given credit as Shadows' associate producer (though
he did very little actual work in this capacity).
he shot the new footage, Cassavetes intended the "I got
the money!" and subsequent pickup scene immediately to
follow the scene in which Ben borrows money from Hugh in the
rehearsal hall, which was itself intended to appear earlier
(as it was in the 1958 edit). During the 1959 editing process,
Cassavetes changed the order of the scenes, putting the rehearsal
hall scene later and the "I got the money!" and
pickup scenes prior to it. The change was an important one.
If he had adhered to his original intention, the effect would
have been completely different. We would have seen Ben mooch
money off his brother, gleefully celebrate the fact with his
three friends on the street, and proceed on to engage in an
evening of drinking and skirt-chasing. The sequence would
have established Ben's irresponsibility and frivolousness
with Hugh's hard-earned money. In contrast, in its current
position before the rehearsal hall scene, since viewers do
not draw any conclusions about how Ben obtained the money,
his carousing is read less moralistically. His euphoria plays
not as financial irresponsibility, but as an expression of
boyish high-spirits. The change is an illustration of Cassavetes'
desire to allow a degree of sympathy with his character.
above material represents the first thirteen notes that appear in
Key #2 of the table, which in its complete form has a total of 84
notes with critical observations about Shadows. All of Keys
#1 and #2, as well as much other additional material about the film,
is available by following the link at the bottom of this page.
learn how to acquire more information about Shadows,
look for five different sets of material: Ray Carneys Cassavetes
on Cassavetes (Faber and Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
which contains an extensive production history for the
film; his book
on the making of Shadows (British Film Institute "Film
of California Press); the booklet titled 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 contains a complete version of the table and notes
above (which appears in an abridged version, less than half its
actual length, in the BFI book); and the critical discussions of
Shadows in Ray Carneys The Films of John Cassavetes:
Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies (New York and London:
Cambridge University Press) and John Cassavetes: The Adventure
of Insecurity (Boston: Company C Publishing).
Note that these books and booklets do not merely repeat each other.
Each contains significantly different material and insights about
the film and its production history. The third item (A Detective
Story.....) contains the most complete information about the
two versions of the film as well as the complete texts of Keys
#1 and #2, which are not included above. The table that appears
as an Appendix to the BFI book is an edited, shortened version of
the text in this booklet, which lacks many of the points in the
complete version. It also contains other previously unpublished
material about the film. Click
here to learn how to obtain any of this material
as well as other writing by Ray Carney about Cassavetes and Shadows.