that follows covers the final ten years of John Cassavetes' life and
the nineteen years following his death. To access a chronology and
list of events covering the first forty years of Cassavetes' life, from
1929 through 1968, click
To read more
about many of the events described below, go to the "About Ray
Carney" and the "Ray Carney's Discoveries" sections of
the site (in the left menu on this page) and the associated links. All
of the books and articles by Prof. Carney that are mentioned can be
purchased via the "Bookstore" link (also in the left menu
on this page).
Page 4 < 5
here for best printing of text
February: Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes,
the first biography of the filmmaker, is published. The book establishes
the basic facts, dates, and events in Cassavetes' life for the first
time and corrects hundreds of errors present in all existing reference
books. Despite repeated requests, Rowlands has refused to provide any
help or information to Carney during his eleven years of research. (Click
here to read an account of how Carney researched his Cassavetes
on Cassavetes book.)
Ray Carney's monograph on the making
of Shadows is published by the British Film Institute and University
of California Press. The book reveals new facts about the film based on a series
of "Rosebud" conversations between Carney and Cassavetes shortly before
Cassavetes death, including a reconstruction of the contents of the
first version and an account of which parts of the second version were
scripted in collaboration with Robert Alan Aurthur.
Charity's John Cassavetes: Lifeworks is published by Omnibus
Press. The book continues to repeat a number of factual mistakes about
Cassavetes' life and work.
April - present: In
a misguided attempt to defend the version of the film which she owns
(and probably to prevent Robert Alan Aurthur's
widow from making claims against any profits from it), Gena
Rowlands and Al Ruban tell interviewers and
audiences that Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes and Shadows
books are factually incorrect. They make numerous statements to the
effect that "there was no first version of Shadows," that "Robert
Alan Aurthur was not involved in any way"
with the second version, that the second version was not scripted and
that the statement that appears at the end that the film was "improvised"
is correct. In question and answer sessions, Ruban
mocks the appendix of Carney's Shadows book, which compares the
two versions of the film, as "a study of underwear."
mailbag is full of reports of Al Ruban's gratuitous bashing of my
scholarship and publications at public events from 1990 through
the present. As objective evidence from outsiders who have no particular
allegiance to me or my work, three reports follow that I received
from individuals who don't know each other who were each present
at post-screening question-and-answer sessions of Cassavetes' work.
The first and last events took place in New York; the middle event
in Los Angeles. Since all three are filmmakers or film industry
professionals, I have withheld their names to protect their identities.
(I'd also point out that many of these attacks preceded my discoveries
of new Cassavetes material. When I found the new prints of Faces
and Shadows, Ruban's and Rowlands's denigrations of my
work became even more frequent and more abusive. I said nothing
publicly about any of this for almost fifteen years.)
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003
Hey Prof. Carney-
Just wanted to let you
know that I recently met AL Ruban at a screening of A woman under
the influence and Minnie and Moskowitz at the Two Boots Pioneer
theater on 2nd Ave in NYC. Ruban was a complete asshole and when
I asked a question regarding something from your book "C on
C", he condemned you as an "intellectual jerk". Something
tells me that this guy either has something to hide or is really
Thanks, hope all is well.
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002
Subject: al ruban
Ray, just returned from
the UCLA screening of (the second version of) Shadows. Curtis Hanson
introduced. Talked about first meeting JC during editing of Faces.
Didn't he make LA Confidential? Seems, then, he didn't learn anything
from his time with JC. Goldoni, Rowlands, Ruban and Cassel there.
Something you might want
to hear, through I'm sure you know his attitude: Ruban explained
that the version we saw tonight (ie. at UCLA) was the real film:
'This is the film, it's always been the film.' Ruban seemed rather
scornful of critics/historians, and your work in particular, saying
things like (I'm paraphrasing here): enjoy the film for what it
is, don't worry about what color underpants people were wearing.
One question from the audience mentioned your name, to which Ruban
replied, 'Ray Carney wasn't there'. So, there you have it.
Date: 15 Dec 2001
What's up with Al Ruban?
I was at an event where people cited your work on Cassavetes in
the q-and-a (all very favorable, I think some of them might have
been your students) and he launched into this ferocious attack saying
(words pretty close to): "How can Carney claim to know what
Cassavetes meant? He wasn't there to ask him. A critic has no business
telling us what a film is about or what a director was thinking
unless he was there. Carney wasn't there." A few minutes later
he called your Shadows book a "study of underwear" and
said "who cares what underwear people are wearing!" I
have to tell you the whole tirade (and it went on and on) caught
the audience completely by surprise. Everyone was stunned. He seemed
really mad. It pretty much brought the discussion to a halt. No
one wanted to ask any more questions until the moderator calmed
him down by making a joke. I want you to know though that the audience
was on your side. Someone beside me whispered "he's jealous,"
and when we were filing out someone else made a joke about "that's
the way all producers are." He sure put a damper on the evening.
What gives with him? What is his problem?
Click here to read more accounts from other audience members of Al Ruban's conduct at public events on page 76 of the Mailbag.
July: While going through the Library of
Congress's on - line database, Ray Carney concludes, based on the published
length of the footage given for a recently acquired print of Faces,
that a previously unknown 147 - minute "long print" of the film
is now in their possession. Phone calls and e - mail exchanges with the
staff indicate that they are unaware of the holding and the specialness
of the print. They tell Carney that the footage count is almost certainly
a clerical error.
October 17 - 22: Ray
Carney moderates question - and - answer sessions about Cassavetes'
life and work at the Denver Film Festival.
October 25 - 28: Ray
Carney conducts an on-stage interview with Gena
Rowlands on the opening night event of the 17th Annual Virginia Film
Festival, and participates in a retrospective featuring Rowlands's
film acting work. In a conversation with Carney at the festival, she
says she is upset about his Cassavetes on Cassavetes book because
the Variety review said it called her husband "a liar." She adds
that she has not read the book. Carney assures her that it celebrates
her husband's work and does him honor. She is not placated.
October 29 - November 1: Carney
visits the Library of Congress, physically verifies the existence of
the Faces find, views it, records its contents, and informs the
staff of the importance of the print. He talks with them about the necessity
of preservation. All parties agree on the importance of the find and
talk about making an announcement and conducting public screenings at
the earliest possible date. Carney volunteers to draft the press release.
Acquisition records are incomplete, but all evidence points to the print
being part of the deposit Carney had sent there three years earlier.
for an account of the Faces discovery.
November 6 - 8: Ray Carney visits Hollins College and conducts various film
events, including a screening of Shadows
and a discussion of the differences between the first and second versions
of the film.
November - December: Carney
provides a press release to the Library of Congress about the Faces
find. He has already notified Gena Rowlands and asked her to give permission for a video
transfer to be made for scholarly use so that he can publish information
about the discovery. In reply, Al Ruban sends
Carney a fax denying the video request and telling him he is not to
reveal the find or write about it. Through Ruban,
Rowlands tells the Film Department not to announce the discovery, screen
the print, or otherwise make it available for scholarly or public viewing.
She incorrectly argues that it is her personal property and is a cut
of the film never meant to be screened in public. This is contradicted
by the presence of the credits sequence, but the Library complies with
her request. Click
here for a more complete account of Rowlands's
response to Carney's Faces discovery.
July: UCLA screens the restored second version
of Shadows at the annual UCLA Festival of Preservation. Ray Carney's
Shadows book is quoted in the program notes, and Carney asks
to be invited to the event, but Gena Rowlands expresses the wish that
he not be invited. There is no difference between the content of the
restored print and previously available prints of the film and only
slight improvement in image quality.
Carney provides program notes and assists with the French DVD
release of A Child is Waiting.
January: Ray Carney conducts the first East Coast screening of the restored UCLA
print of the second version of Shadows at the Coolidge Corner
theater in Boston to a standing - room only audience.
He introduces the film and conducts a post - screening interview with
photograph appears on the "director" commemorative stamp issued by the
U.S. Postal Service to honor the 75th Anniversary of the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
2003 - May 2004
names Ray Carney as the scholarly advisor for a forthcoming Cassavetes
DVD box set. Over the next eight months, Carney spends more than 200
hours advising Criterion on every aspect of the proposed contents of
the set, locating new material, recording voice - over commentary, and
planning and writing for the booklet that is to accompany the set. Click
here for more information about Prof. Carney's involvement in
the Criterion project.
Carney writes program notes for and assists with the release
of the French DVD of Love Streams.
November: After a seventeen - year search and
$50,000 of expenditure, Ray Carney locates the lost and presumed destroyed
78 - minute first version of Shadows. Click
here for a year - by - year account of the search.
immediately notifies Johanna Schiller, a producer at Criterion, and
Ross Lipman, the senior preservationist at UCLA whom Carney advised
concerning the restoration of the second version of Shadows.
Criterion is enthusiastic and expresses the desire to include it in
their Cassavetes box set. Carney tentatively approves the idea of letting
them include it, pending study of the rights situation. Lipman
advises Carney on the care and preservation of the print.
Lipman warns Prof.
Carney that Ruban has made a series of nasty and abusive remarks about
Carney and his work, telling him that when Lipman has mentioned Carney's
search for the first version to Ruban, Ruban has jeered at it, and denied
that a "first version" ever existed. Lipman tells Carney that,
given the vehemence and irrationality of Ruban's attitude, he believes
there is a real possibility that Ruban may attempt to destroy, suppress,
or otherwise prevent the print from being seen if it ever comes into
his possession. Consequently, when Carney talks to Lipman about donating
the print to UCLA or another archive, Lipman advises him that, given
Ruban's attitude, he must be sure he carefully structures the donation
to prevent Rowlands or her spokesman Ruban from ever being able to repossess
and possibly destroy it. He councils Carney to keep the discovery from
Rowlands and Ruban until he has made sure that the print is protected
December: After a lawyer advises Carney that
the first version of Shadows has fallen into the public domain
and is free of screening restrictions, he contacts the Sundance Film
Festival to offer them the premiere screening. John Cooper turns him
down, saying that their audience has had their fill of Cassavetes in
the past in previous events. When Simon Field, the Director of the Rotterdam
International Film Festival, learns of the discovery from an intermediary,
he expresses his enthusiastic desire to present the film, calling it
"the holy Grail of independent film." Carney agrees to provide it to
Rotterdam for free.
January: Carney screens the first version of
Shadows twice at the Rotterdam International Film Festival to
capacity crowds and enthusiastic responses. He is interviewed by more
than fifteen European publications. Click
here for more information about the Rotterdam screenings.
Following the screenings, Carney calls
Gena Rowlands to discuss the discovery. She
is extremely upset. She angrily tells him that "there was no first version"
(incorrectly arguing that the print Carney has found was a
only a rough, incomplete, unfinished edit--click here to view three brief video clips from the film) and that, as such, "it was
something John didn't ever want shown." She insists that the print be
Fedexed to her immediately. When Carney asks
what she intends to do with it when she gets it, she indicates her desire
to destroy or suppress it as something "never meant to be screened."
Rowlands also tells Carney to remove all references to the "first version"
of Shadows from his web site. She also expresses extreme displeasure
with other parts of the site that deviate from her happy - face account
of Cassavetes' life. Click
here for a more complete account of Rowlands's
response to the Shadows discovery. And click
here to read extended excerpts from interviews
with Professor Carney that provide more information about Rowlands's
attempts to confiscate the print and prevent it from being screened.
January - March: Carney
talks to Criterion about the importance of including all available alternate
versions of all of Cassavetes' films. Johanna Schiller tells Carney
that, as of this point in her negotiations, Rowlands and Ruban
have turned down the requests. Only the final "release" versions will
be included. Carney vows to keep up the pressure by contacting Rowlands
more than one hundred film festivals, archives, and theaters around
the world express interest in showing the first version of Shadows.
As an act of good faith and transparency, Carney forwards the most important
requests to Rowlands, and offers to share all rental and video release
revenue with her. She does not respond to Carney's mailings, but Carney
later learns that she has written the festival curators and theater
owners threatening a law suit if the print is screened and repeating
the statement that "there is no first version" of the film. Without
additional warning, Carney receives a letter from her lawyer threatening
a series of legal actions to seize the 16mm print and videos of it if
they are not received in ten days or less. Rowlands additionally sends
a fax to Criterion threatening legal action if they include the print
in the Cassavetes box set.
a period of several months Carney continues to write to Rowlands, pleading
that she appreciate the value of the Shadows find and reconsider
her actions. He also continues to make attempts to persuade her to change
her mind about including the alternate versions of Shadows, Faces,
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and outtakes from Opening
Night, which Carney has located, in the Criterion box set. Carney
speaks with Peter Becker, the head of Criterion, and Johanna Schiller,
the producer of the set, about the importance of including these materials
and asks them to continue to attempt to persuade Rowlands to change
her mind. In the end, the efforts will partially pay off. After months
of persuasion, Rowlands finally agrees to allow 17 minutes from Faces
and the first version of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, though
she turns down the inclusion of Shadows and Criterion rejects
the inclusion of the Opening Night footage.
March - April: Gena Rowlands learns that Ray Carney has mentioned "the first version" of Shadows
in his voice - over commentary for the Criterion box set, that he has
reservations about including Charles Kiselyak's
authorized documentary, and that he intends to contribute an essay to
the booklet on the subject of "The real John Cassavetes: Moving beyond
the myths." She contacts Peter Becker and demands that Carney's voice - over
commentary and written material not be included in the box set and that
his scholarly advisor credit be removed.
April: Carney contacts British Film Institute
Publishing about issuing a revised edition of his Shadows book
in the light of the discovery of the first version. The editor rejects the idea as not being commercial enough. (Click here to read more about this response and about film book publishing in general.) In response, Carney self-publishes
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 revises and greatly expands the text of the BFI volume, and a
second work, Necessary Experiences, which describes some of the
events surrounding the quest for the first version of Shadows.
These items are available on his web site.
May 8: At the point that his work on the Criterion box set is largely completed,
Carney is fired by Peter Becker, who insists that he is doing it only
at Rowlands's request. Click
here and here
for more information about how Rowlands had Carney fired.
September: Criterion's John Cassavetes Five
Films box set appears. Ray Carney's credit as scholarly advisor has been removed from the materials, even though
his work is still retained, uncredited, on
advises the Museum of Television and Radio for a forthcoming
retrospective of Cassavetes' television acting performances to be presented
in New York and Los Angeles. The screenings consist
of many previously forgotten or lost works Carney has discovered and
shown in his classroom or at film festivals in previous years.
March: Attendance at both venues is so poor
that it elicits comment in the Los Angeles Times. John Cassavetes
is still not a household name in either film or television. His work
is still not screened or discussed in most American film programs.
Diana Privitera and Stuart
Henderson of Optimum Releasing ask Ray Carney to contribute to their
UK DVD release of Cassavetes' films. Gena Rowlands vetoes the idea and
has Seymour Cassel and Al Ruban provide voice-over commentary in Carney's
The Cassavetes DVD set is issued in the UK by Optimum Releasing. Seymour
Cassel and Tom Charity provide voice-over commentary for the Shadows
disk. Acting with the support and approval of Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands,
in an attempt to undermine Carney's discovery of the print of the first
version, Cassel argues with Charity in his recorded comments, swears
and uses vulgar language, and states that there is "only one version"
of the film. (Click
here to read a reviewer's comments about Cassel's embarrassing and
factually mistaken comments.) Cassel's commentary on this disk and Ruban's
on another disk contain numerous factual errors.
3 < Page 4 < 5
above covers the final ten years of John Cassavetes' life and the nineteen years following his death. To access a chronology and list of events
covering the first forty years of Cassavetes' life, from 1929 through
To read more
about many of the events described above, go to the "About Ray Carney"
and the "Ray Carney's Discoveries" sections of the site (in
the left menu on this page) and the associated links. All of the books
and articles by Prof. Carney that are mentioned can be purchased via
the "Bookstore" link (also in the left menu on this page).