The pages in this section of Ray Carney's 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

Page 1 < 2

Click here for best printing of text

Dear Ray,

Just read the terrific interview "Caring For Art, Caring About Art" on your website...(Click here to open a window to that section of the site.)

I have heard stories about Gena Rowlands behavior, and have no trouble believing them. Sounds like she should get together with Beatrice Welles! If you have tapes of such things as the 4-hour CHINESE BOOKIE, the 4-hour FACES and the original version of SHADOWS, why not send them to one (or more) of the 'grey market'/public domain video distributors? Once these versions become available on the video underground, it will no longer be possible for Rowlands to deny their existence, or prevent interested parties from obtaining them. This would certainly put an end to all talk of destroying existing prints, and might even force Al Ruban's hand. How long would Ruban be able to get away with licensing a 129-minute version of FACES to potential distributors once it is known that a 240-minute version is available from grey market sources?

I recall from our previous correspondence that you had longer versions of CHINESE BOOKIE which Cassavetes gave you, but were unwilling to copy it for anyone, because you felt it would be a betrayal of trust. And while I can understand and respect that, I personally believe that the best way for you to honor John's memory would be to make copies of all these things available to as many people as possible.

These sites claim that they can offer otherwise unavailable films due to a provision contained within the Berne Act. According to SuperHappyFun, "The section of American copyright law known as "The Berne Act" clearly states: films unreleased in the United States, including original version of films altered and/or edited for release in the United States, are not protected by American copyright; thus, they are considered public domain."

So, of course, you could simply run off copies of SHADOWS, FACES, CHINESE BOOKIE, etc. and sell them through your website, claiming the Berne Act as your justification. Legally, you should be on pretty solid ground, since Rowlands and Ruban's attempts to destroy the longer versions of these films sounds like exactly the kind of situation this Act was intended to deal with. And, of course, you would have a better claim than most to being motivated by scholarship rather than profit. But two things should be considered:

a) I'm no expert. I only know what I've heard from a few friends (none of whom are experts either), or read on the Web.

b) In any case, my understanding is that this is legally a gray area (hence the term 'gray market'). In other words, if you should start selling DVD-Roms of the original version of SHADOWS through your website, and Rowlands should decide to sue, it's quite possible that you would win in court (and thus set a precedent). But I guess it's equally possible that you would lose and go to jail. This is why I suggested that you simply send copies of these tapes to one of the already existing Public Domain/gray market sites, and let them worry about it.

Best wishes,
Brad Stevens

PS - It's actually quite funny to learn that Al Ruban is exactly the character he played in CHINESE BOOKIE. What is it that Cosmo says to him? That he has no style?


To read about Ray Carney's discovery of of the first version of Shadows that these letters are commenting on, click here. To read about Gena Rowlands's attempt to suppress Prof. Carney's discovery, click here.

A few comments about Gena Rowlands that occurred to me from this reading of your PostScript in the "News" section of the Shadows pages -- about your struggle to show the first version of Shadows to an audience and Rowlands' attitude:

1) Do you know about something called the Myers-Briggs temperament typing scale? Gena Rowlands is an example of an extreme, off-the-chart "J" - once she makes up her mind, there is no changing it, not ever. She is Right with a capital R and that is the end of it. As bull-headed as they come. (I suspect George W. Bush is one as well...)

2) It amazes me that she has never read your Cassavetes on Cassavetes book. Their relationship must certainly have been less than idyllic. You would think if she loved him she would want at the very least to read every word he had said. And your book is full of such living, beautiful soul thoughts, an exploration of John Cassavetes's soul. I know she is with another man. So rather than wanting to remember her first husband, it seems more like she is trying to forget him. C'est la vie, her loss.

From: Henri Fellner
Subject: A french reader under the influence of Cassavetes

Well, first a little story: two days ago I went to the criterion website to see if there was any Cassavetes films in their catalogue. There was none. Then I went to your website to see if there anything about video and dvd (as in the Tarkovski website). I read the interview you gave about video editions and rights and I was SO SAD!!! Such an injustice!!! We are (in France too) submerged under so much useless dvd of already forgotten movies and nothing was done about Cassavetes films! Even by those who were his friends (I thought Al Ruban was)! So I went back to criterion website and send them a "suggestion" to work on such a project, as they seem to be a kind of "reference" for dvd editions). I had a standard mail back but at the end of the day I went back again to their website and guess what I saw?

John Cassavetes Box Set Slated for Fall 2004 Criterion is preparing a boxed set of five films by legendary American independent John Cassavetes. In addition to new high-definition transfers of Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night, the set will include Charles Kiselyak's award-winning 200 minute documentary, A Constant Forge, along with exclusive new interviews with Cassavetes collaborators Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, Lelia Goldoni, and others. The set is slated for fall release. Watch this space for more details.

I WAS SO HAPPY!!!! And that you are a part of this project and that you will be a kind of guide for the edition : "faces" two versions? longest copies available and restored? "woman" original soundtrack? bonus with Cassavetes tv interviews trying to sell his movies (as you write in your book)?

I spent most of last summer with your "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" and thank you for it: for destroying the false and unreal statue he has become (at least in France where your book is not translated which doesn't surprise me) and about his ways of using people but most of all for giving life to his thoughts, to his battle, to his faith, to his dedication to his work! I could continue for a long time because you book was such a great trip through his world!

Thank you for your work and again I am glad you are part of the dvd project and happy with it!

Henri Fellner

Ray Carney replies:

I include the above letter strictly for the humor of it. It was written before Gena Rowlands made her move against me. I subsequently wrote Mr. Fellner and told him about Rowlands' acts of censorship—first, that she had me fired from the Criterion project and had much of my work expunged (my voice over audio commentary and other things); and second, that she had insisted that for the part of my work that remained, credit would be withheld from me. My name would be expunged as the scholarly advisor, my input into the box set would be denied, and payment withheld.

posted by pete on

In Other Cinematic News [Read: This is Not a Post About Disney & Michael Moore]

So I went to Ray Carney's site to see if there was any information regarding the Cassavetes box set. I go to his pages at least once a day, but it's difficult finding new information since there is no "Updates" section of his site. I snooped around a bit and found much more than I expected. Apparently, Carney gave commentaries for the Criterion releases of the movies but Cassavetes' widow, Gena Rowlands, stopped him dead in his tracks. Scroll to the bottom of this page to read a letter from the prez of Criterion Video regarding the matter. I dug around a little more and found something even more disturbing - it seems as if Rowlands is on the warpath and Carney is her bright red target.

For years, 17 to be exact, Carney has been on a search for the original version of Cassavetes' directorial debut, Shadows. The first cut of Shadows was screened, only once, for a small audience and was met with such a negative reception that Cassavetes re-shot the entire movie and made it much more accessible. This version of the movie is the one you can rent from any video store and despite its polishing, is still regarded as the first genuine American independent film. After an obsessive search, Carney found the lone, beat-up, fragile print of the first version. He made a digital copy of the film and screened it for the Rotterdam film festival. Carney's persistence is some beautiful sh**, but things quickly turned for the plumb weird. Carney got in touch with Rowlands and told her about his find. Instead of expressing joy, she flatly denied the existence of the original version and ordered Carney to excise any mention of "the first version" from his site. It gets worse. She has prohibited Carney from screening the original cut publicly and as of now, the only way to see it is to attend one of Carney's classroom screenings at Boston University. It gets even more strange when Rowlands claims not to have even read Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes, arguably the definitive book on the man and his work thus. I found it strange that Rowlands has never, to this day, watched A Woman Under the Influence. I figured it was because the film probably hit too close to home. Now I wonder if there are other, more curious, reasons.

posted by pete on

From: Peter Becker
President of Criterion Video
The Criterion Collection
Subject: Bad news

Dear Ray,

I'm sorry to have to tell you that we won't be including your commentary or essay in the Cassavetes box. Gena Rowlands feels that you have violated her rights and failed to respect John Cassavetes' wishes, and she has informed us that under the circumstances, she will not participate in or approve the release with you as a part of it. Cassavetes entrusted his legacy to Gena, so for us, her word is final. I wish it hadn't come to this.


Dr. Carney,


Well I can tell you now that I will NOT be purchasing this box set. I'll rent 'em via netflix or elsewhere, but I won't buy them...

What a terrible shame. After all the work you've done in keeping JC alive, this is your thank-you. But I guess it makes sense as anything worth doing in this life is nearly always met with ignorance or just flat-out ingratitude. I do hope you fight this till the bitter end. You are in the right. JC's art is too important to be betrayed by these personal and imbecilic motivations.

John Yanez

That's an unbelievable turn of events. Your struggle has to be told. People need to know what's going on. If a mag was interested in the story, would you talk to me about all this?

Keep up the good fight and I'll be in touch. By the way, I don't know if you saw the FILMMAKER piece but the link is below.

Click here

Jason Guerrasio


I was absolutely crushed to hear the news about Gena Rowlands's inexplicable behavior towards your maverick recovery of the Shadows print and, furthermore, your involvement with the upcoming Criterion releases. Why? Has the old girl really just lost it? It all smacks of some kind of petty personal grudge. And against the truest champion of her husband's legacy (not to mention her own!). Alas!

Any possibility of acquiring the voice-over work you recorded for Criterion? Would you be willing to distribute such a thing commercially? I'm at a loss as to how to console you, but I'm determined that some good should still come of all of this.

I realize you are, as ever, busier than any individual should be. In this difficult time, I just wanted to reiterate my continued support for you and your work, which has touched my life so profoundly.

David Kang

Professor Carney,

I know I haven't checked in for a while, but I wanted you to know that your work is still very important to me. Not only do I learn so much about Cassavetes, Dreyer, Capra, Leigh, but as a burgeoning college Prof myself, you give me so much hope for my own future. I look around at my fellow students and listen to the crap they are interested in - all the kitsch nonsense legitimized by theory, and I know that's what the academy is about and I know that's not what I'm about. I often wonder how the hell am I ever going to be able survive writing about artists that I love when everyone else is writing about "texts" with which they can "do things." That's when I turn to your works. I remind myself that you did it, that you are continuing to do it somehow, even when everything is against you, and that gives me hope.

I apologize, professor Carney, if I seem to be rambling. Last night Dave Kang tipped me off to this ordeal with Rowlands and the first version of Shadows, so I read it as soon as I got in the office this morning, and I'm still a little excited and flustered. So take my comments for whatever they may be worth.

Dan Jones

Dear Prof. Carney,

I am shocked by the pettiness of your critics who attack you for doing nothing less than devoting your life for John's Cassavetes' art as well as dedicating your energy to preserving his legacy as any honorable art scholar/historian worth their salt would do. I would ask these critics if they have given as much and as passionately of themselves in their lives as you have done to spend seventeen years finding the first version of Shadows out of devotion and belief in Cassavetes' greatness as an artist. Shame on them if they have not! I would also ask them if they have done as much to preserve Cassavetes' art. Good stewardship is all about preserving, not destroying - especially not destroying for monetary gain. John Cassavetes may have willed the rights to his films to his wife Gena Rowlands, but as I see it, you are and have been the only one so dedicated to preserving his art and telling the truth about Cassavetes' life. What a shame Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban do not have your goal of preserving the integrity and film quality of Cassavetes' legacy intact in its entirety for future generations. What if Leonardo da Vinci's wife had done the same and suppressed some of his early works, allowed them to deteriorate, or even worse, changed them? It's appalling to think that art has so little value to some people...

I have sent you a contribution for your "Shadows Defense Fund." Bravo for your courage in the face of the critics and naysayers, not to mention for standing up to Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban re: the first version of Shadows. Go for it! Some of us out here value and appreciate all that you do, and understand that you give your all to love of art.

Thank you, Prof. Carney, for all of the wonderful knowledge and inspiration you have given me all these years. You have taught me that some things are worth giving your life for and being passionate about. You have my unqualified support for all of your endeavors. I sincerely hope that all who feel this way and believe in you will let you know of their support.

Best regards from your student,

Ray Carney replies:

I have printed the above letter from MJ, and am sincerely grateful for the support and offer of a contribution to the "Shadows Defense Fund," but I would ask that other readers not send me contributions. This is not about money. It has never been about money. Simon Field, the director of the Rotterdam Film Festival, Peter Becker at Criterion Video, Peter Scarlet at the Tribeca Film Festival, Helene Zylberait at Cine Classic in France, and all of the scores of other Film Festival programmers who have contacted me about presenting the first version of Shadows can verify that I have never asked for a penny from any of them. Not one cent. Ever. I am not in this to make money. Money is no doubt what motivates others who are opposing my release and distribution of the first version of Shadows ("Oh my God, it might cut into the bookings of the other version! How horrible!"), but money is not why I am in this. I am in it for other reasons. Money is the wrong reason to do anything.

To reiterate: Please do not send me money. If you are so moved, do something else. Write a chat board and express your support. Write Rowlands and tell her you believe in the importance of what I am doing to preserve and protect her husband's work. And if the Shadows issue is not at the center of your interests, then do something else for art. Contribute your time and effort to help an artist you know do his or her work. Support your local museums and orchestras and dance companies. Convince others to support them. Those are the things that count. Not money. Not profits. But the preservation and appreciation of art. The encouragement of and help for artists. Those things are worth a struggle.


Prof. Carney

I just read your newest addition on your website Chasing Shadows and P.S. pages, beginning with the first Postscript all the way through to the end. It seems to me that the key issue here is one of censorship. I find it ironic that any scholarly, critical analysis of Cassavetes' work and thoughtful study of his life and what "made him tick" is being censored. What has happened to the independent spirit and freedom of expression in our society? Isn't that what Cassavetes was fighting for?

I hope you get positive response to it, but I imagine emails and phone calls will probably be about the same as the reactions to your keeping the Shadows film. I think people on the Criterion chat board are just getting the latest thrill for the moment before moving off to applaud or stab the next victim... I guess it makes them feel important to state an anonymous opinion.

But I hope independent film artists understand the consequences of Gena's position... They all ought to be fighting for freedom of expression! And can't have it both ways...


Matt Reed

Hello, Professor Carney:

I wrote to you once before, and received a kind response, and wouldn't bother you again if I didn't feel compelled to by having just read the story of the first version of SHADOWS on your web-page.

First, I should say that it is one of the most compelling pieces of writing I've read about a personal quest, suspenseful and funny and with a (largely) happy ending. If only more people put such writing out on the Internet! You're right about how Jamesian the obsession must have gotten. I remember the scene in "The Figure in the Carpet" where the narrator briefly considers marrying the woman who might have the secret, and then pulling himself together says something like "Down that road madness lies." I'm only glad you didn't need to compromise yourself in such a way!

I am obviously horrified that the re-release of this early version of SHADOWS is being suppressed, as I am at the suppression of other definitive or alternate versions of Cassavetes' films. To this day I've deliberately avoided trying to hunt down the video of Love Streams, as I hope to see it first in a complete form. As you say, the treatment of these films has to do with the status of film, particularly in North America, as a mere entertainment which doesn't warrant the close consideration of other art forms. Something close to criminal prosecution would take place if ANYONE suggested throwing out Matisse sketches for a painting, simply because the sketches didn't properly represent his final vision. I recently read The Ivory Tower, complete with James' working notes, and all I can say is thank heavens we have this document, for the art contained in the fragment, and the insights into his artistic process.

The fact of an artist not necessarily being certain about where revision of a work should end is hardly new, and is something any sophisticated audience should be able to deal with. Few 19th century orchestral composers are more highly lauded than Bruckner, and in many cases he left an original version as well as a revised version. Somewhere in the liner notes it's usually stated which version the conductor is using. No one has suggested a definitive answer to the problem and no one has suggested one set of manuscripts should be disposed of because they misrepresent his best intentions. Bruckner Symphonies haven't suffered for it.

As a Bostonian and literary enthusiast I'm sure you're aware of the recent publication of Robert Lowell's Collected Poems, edited by Frank Bidart. One of the reasons it took 25 years to collect this work is the fact that so many of Lowell's poems exist in a number of versions, and often each version has it's own virtues. When asked about the problems of having two versions of a poem in different publications Lowell answered: "But both versions exist." How simple. Similar problems exist with W. H. Auden and we've dealt with that too.

Having read many of your books on Cassavetes, it would seem that this is the kind of situation we're dealing with. The films of John Cassavetes don't have smooth edges; they don't make final statements, they don't have the answers, they aren't "perfected". He knew that life didn't have those qualities. He didn't "know" exactly what he was doing. That's part of the reason he was such a great artist.

All this is perhaps overstating the case. The advent of the DVD has made it possible to see "The Directors Cut" of any Hollywood schlock, at little extra expense to the distributors. In most cases we get self-indulgent additions to a commercial product that hardly needs to exist in the first place. Why then is it such a problem with Cassavetes where almost any strip of celluloid he left is going to contain some excitement?

This brings me to the main point of my E-mail, regarding Rowland's attitude to alternate versions. The fact of estates exerting control or repression over works of art is hardly new. What's alarming is her wish to have these versions destroyed!

Perhaps I'm missing some information. I'm reminded that when Alban Berg died, having not quite completed the opera Lulu (now a good candidate for greatest operas of the 20th century) Helene Berg forbid any use of the third act, saying that it existed in an uncompleted piano score with large gaps, and that any use of it would harm the reputation of the composer. When she died in the 70s the manuscript was found to be nearly complete even in terms of orchestration, and with substantial notes on the gaps in orchestration, leaving little guesswork for a competent arranger with a good idea of Berg's musical vocabulary. It seems a good deal of the opera was inspired by a relationship with a woman Berg was close to for years. Helene's bitterness at her lack of involvement in his life at that point was the real motive for sabotaging the opera.

It's obviously none of my business, but for the sake of the films I wonder if there's extra-aesthetic agenda in terms of Ms. Rowland's attitude to your work and the integrity of Cassavetes' work in general. Most of what I know about Cassavetes derives from your books, so you probably have as much of an answer as anyone. That's neither here nor there though.

In the case of Gena Rowlands the problem is compounded by the fact that I consider her an important actress and an important player in many of his films. In a very pragmatic sense, his work wouldn't be what it is without her.

I should say, as a sideline, that your book Cassavetes on Cassavetes , is a model of what artist biographies can be. It doesn't whitewash the man, nor is it muckraking. It makes him a large, vibrant, flawed and complex person and most importantly, takes us into the films. It tells, if not THE truth (an impossibility for any biographer), then A truth. In an age when I've almost stopped reading biographies of artists, which so often come across as a revenge of the small person against a giant, your book aspires to Boswell's Life of Johnston, my gold standard of biography.

My questions are, how can I help save these films, and better yet, bring them to more people? I'm more than happy to write to Ms. Rowlands, in whatever manner you think would be most effective. To mention you or not mention you, whichever you feel would be most likely to get results. I don't particularly want to come across as picking a side in a battle between yourself and Ms. Rowlands. The side I'm on is the preservation of the films in all their variants. Is there a way of banding together with other Cassavetes enthusiasts? I regard Cassavetes to be an American artist ranking with Henry James or William Faulkner. I think he's the only North American filmmaker so far who ranks with giants of world cinema like Dreyer, Renoir, Ozu, Tarkovsky. And Cassavetes' world is very much the world I've grown up in and to some extent live in. It has helped me see myself and the particular discontents of my society, sometimes painfully, sometimes joyously, always profoundly. Is this the argument I should make to Ms. Rowlands, who's contribution, I'll repeat, I have a high regard for? I suspect not, but since I don't know what motivates her, you might be able to guide me here.

I closing I'd like to say that whatever happens, the work you've done for contemporary art is incalculable. In an age when humanities professors increasingly insist on being the gravediggers of culture, you've tenaciously worked at bringing appreciation of difficult works to anyone who cares to make the effort. Keep up the good work.


Mark Fenton
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Dear Mr. Carney,

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Jordan Ivanov. I am 34 and live in Toronto, Ontario. I am a great fan (appreciator) of John Cassavetes' work. Despite the fact that I was very young (in some cases I wasn't even born) when John Cassavetes made some of his first films, I am greatly thankful to John for his mind opening work and to you for your long standing commitment to documenting his life and directorial career.

Like most people, I had always heard of John Cassavetes (the actor) but never anything about John Cassavetes the director, and I can't tell you what a shame that has been for myself, and God only knows how many people. Until I saw the documentary, "John Cassavetes: To Risk Everything to Express it All", back in 1996, that was my first introduction to a great man and artist, my life changed. I then discovered two of your excellent books "The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism and the Movies" and "American Dreaming" which have become my "bibles" of John Cassavetes. And now your website.

I have been a regular visitor to your site for some time now and I can't tell you how important your books and site about John Cassavetes are. I didn't want this to be a typical fan mail type of letter, going on and on about how great you are and what you are doing (even though it is..). I have been wanting to write to you for some time now, but I was never able to find an email address on your site, until now. As your site is so rich with information, I must have overlooked your email.

Anyway, what I want to tell you is that I have always known that I have been different from most people, in terms of how I see the world. I have never been one to go with the flow and do what everyone else is doing. I never saw the point in that, if I didn't believe in what was going on. There is a lot of hardship when you don't do what everyone else is doing, a loneliness and a feeling of low self worth. I have always believed in doing the right thing, speaking the truth and being truthful to myself and to others as best as I can. Like John, I hate phoniness and anything that isn't genuine. As you quoted what John said about himself, he said that he was the least phony person in the world (I would like to think that I am in the top ten).

What I am trying to say is that I really feel that I can relate to John in terms of having a vision and believing in it so much, that it becomes a part of you, if not all of you. I have always been a technical person by trade, but spend a great deal of my time reading and thinking and observing the world and people. Trying to make sense of it at the best of times. Photography has been the only kind of medium that I feel I can express myself with. I have been experimenting in Photography for years now, trying to develop a skill at capturing life. Those everyday, seemingly insignificant moments that most people would overlook. I believe in the drama of everyday life, living the day to day existence and I have such a desire to capture it and show it in new, fresh ways. John Cassavetes and your books about him have been such an inspiration to me. They have given me hope in that there are people out there that can see what is wrong with the world, i.e. The Hollywood system, mainstream films and the public's gravitation towards them, and can speak out against them. I really can't think of another voice out there other than yours that is taking a stand and fighting to bring truth to people's eyes.

Hollywood and the studio system are really not unlike things such as politics in the workplace, shallow friendships, materialism, and other everyday challenges that make life into its own soap opera. Like John and yourself, I have been speaking out against these things that kill our souls and our individualism. I have learned from you that life and art can intersect. How art can make life more interesting and abundant. How it can bring beauty and hope into this trying existence. However, I have also learned how much it hurts when people can't see what you see. When they can't see the freshness and beauty of a different perspective, and when they gravitate towards the familiar, the run of the mill, the media controlled and conditioned way of life and looking at things. It's really sad to think how many of us have been brainwashed to the point of hating anything new, original and untried.

One more thing I wanted to mention was the subject of the DVD releases of some John Cassavetes films, and the struggles you went through on your own time, money and effort to do them the respect they deserve, as you mentioned in the excerpt "Caring For Art, Caring About Art". First, it is appalling that companies such as Pioneer and Anchor Bay have no appreciation for great art, not to mention the more than generous offer of your time and effort to do their jobs for them, in releasing worthy re-masters of his films with expected liner notes and other extras, that are standard for even the most terrible that Hollywood has to offer. Mr. Carney, you certainly deserve a medal for your efforts and these companies should hang their heads in shame as they are not worthy of being associated with you or John Cassavetes.

My hope is that one day, the light bulb will go on in everyone's heads, they will wake up and see what a great treasure awaits them. Until that day comes, we have your books and your website to remind everyone what the definition of art really is.

Once again, thank you for your commitment to art, truth and to John Cassavetes.

Keep fighting the good fight.


Jordan Ivanov

Mr. Carney,

Thank you for the reply and your words of wisdom. It was a great treat to read them. What you say is very wise and rings true. It's very hard not to let the world's values get to you, especially when you are bombarded by it at every waking moment. But I know we have to take it one day at at time.

I actually haven't read Cassavetes on Cassavetes, but I look forward to doing so. I have been essentially taking bites out of each of your books, some sections I like to read again and again as I will watch one of the films, and go back to the book to pick up anything that I may have overlooked. Again, I enjoy your books and website very much.

I can't imagine why you would get hate mail as I think you are doing everyone a great service. I also will read your letter on the site. I am anxious to see who else is as great as John Cassavetes.

Thank you again Mr. Carney for your thoughts and time.


Jordan Ivanov

Mr. Carney,

I was very excited to hear that Criterion was releasing a box set, and I was eagerly looking forward to your contributions! After all, how could you NOT be a part of this? Impossible!

Then I read the details on your website. I could go on about your influence on me as an artist, about Cassavetes' influence on me as an artist, and my anger at the shabby treatment you are receiving from the Cassavetes' estate, but I won't. Instead, here is a copy of the letter I sent to the arts editors of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Weekly, Boston Phoenix, Chicago Reader, Village Voice, and Austin Statesmen:

Today, the Criterion DVD company posted the first details for a John Cassavetes DVD Box Set to go on sale in September. John Cassavetes is considered to be one of the pioneers of the American independent film movement. This box set includes several interviews with cast members, producers, and scholars. However, there is one glaring omission.

Ray Carney is a professor of Film Studies at Boston University's College of Communication. He is unquestionably the foremost scholar of John Cassavetes' films. He has written several well-received books about the man and his work, including: The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies (Faber & Faber), Cassavetes on Cassavetes (Faber & Faber), Shadows (BFI Film Classics), and American Dreaming: The Films of John Cassavetes and the American Experience (Berkeley: University Of California Press). His articles have been published in Film Comment, Post-Script, and The Kenyon Review. He has curated festivals of Cassavetes' work for the French-American Film Workshop in Avignon and the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris. There are too many festivals, articles, and lectures to list here; his dedication is total and tireless. Sadly, he has been completely and deliberately shut out from any further participation in Criterion's plans for the box set, even though he has served as an advisor to Criterion on the project. He had even recorded audio commentary and written material for the booklets to be included in the set. Why was he left out? Why is he being verbally and legally threatened by the caretakers of Cassavetes' estate?

His side of the story is available here:

The other side of the story belongs to Criterion, and the caretakers of John Cassavetes estate, Gena Rowlands and Al Ruban.The whole story is worth investigating.

Chris Velazquez

Mr. Carney,

Will this change anything? I don't know. Am I naive to think it can? Perhaps. You've taken these lumps with dignity and decent, rueful sense of humor. All the same, I'm only too happy to take up the sword on your behalf. Not that you need me to, or that you'd want me too, but because frankly, Mr. Carney, you deserve better.

Chris Velazquez

The pages in this section of Ray Carney's 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 2004 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.