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.

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Dear Mr. Carney,

I've just recently discovered John Cassavetes' work as a director, due to the recently released Criterion box set, and have been truly amazed. Over the past few weeks, I've watched several of the pictures and documentaries multiple times. I enjoyed your comments in "A Constant Forge," and understand why you are considered an expert on Cassavetes and his work.

Now my understanding has grown even greater, having just spent some time at "The John Cassavetes Pages" web site. I enjoyed the insightful excerpts available on the web pages. As a young independent filmmaker myself, Cassavetes is clearly a great source of inspiration and creative fuel.

I do, however, have a question that perhaps you may be able to provide an answer. The Criterion set includes two versions of "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie." Yet, I have not found anything that definitively says why Cassavetes released a second version. I know it's stated in "A Constant Forge" that he would have only made this alternate cut for his own reasons, and not the persuasion of others. However, I would like to know if there was any reason in particular he wanted to do this. Can you provide any information regarding this, or perhaps recommend any of your published works that discuss it?

Once again, I very much enjoyed all of your insights into this terrific filmmaker. I hope to hear from you.


David Sayre

Ray Carney replies:


But...if you are interested in JC, you should read my books. Not the tiny excerpts on the web pages, the books! If you are serious. (So many aren't of course. They don't read books. They are the generation misled by Bill Gates and idiot teachers to believe in the value of web pages. Sorry, just giving you the facts.) Break free of web pages!

My Cassavetes on Cassavetes book has much more on the making of the Killing of a Chinese Bookie. The Criterion set is a botch job, full of errors and omissions. Don't go by anything that is said on those disks or in the pack-in material. Once I was thrown off the project they didn't know what they were doing. They give the wrong dates, wrong information, wrong credits, etc. for films. They have Shadows being finished and released in 1958. They do not explain the relation of the two versions of Bookie. The Kissass documentary romanticizes Cassavetes and his works. The Jonathan Lethem essay in the booklet is laughable. The piece by Gary Giddens contains factual mistakes. But I won't go on. Read my books. They have the facts. The truth. The reality. Criterion wasn't interested in that. It was interested in sucking up to Rowlands, who is afraid of facts and not interested in the truth, only interested in creating and maintaining a mythical version of her husband's life and work.

All best wishes and thanks for the kind words.

Dear Professor Carney,

Still saving up before ordering the three books/packets I asked for quotes on before (On Film, On Art, etc.)

I got the boxed set by Criterion and I'm happy that I finally got to watch the films. The docu could have been much worse, but yes, it was bad. It shouldn't even be called a docu. More like a tribute AVP. The worse parts for me where every time those quotes would fade in in-between clips. I mean, they were meaningful, but frigging out of place. Those quotes became hokey in the context of what Cass was about. It came to a point I would cringe every time the quotes faded in. And not cringe in the way Cass’s films make me cringe. Cringe in an “omigod, this is just poop! He winked at Apollo or whatever,” then the canned applause at the end. Urrrggghhhh.

A concerned friend told me I may have become unhealthily obsessed with Cassavetes. (Obsessed, yep, unhealthily, no) The friend wishes that I could have really met him in person so I’d be so turned off by the real him. I tell the friend, well, if I can learn to love certain people in my life who are so exasperating that I want to throw them out of a five story window, then I could have certainly learned to love the real Cass given time. Hearing his voice in the audio interviews and seeing him clown with George Sims in the French tv docu was a great comfort.

If it means anything Professor Carney, thanks for all the hard work you put into it for all the true lovers of his films out there.

But damn, if only they were more open, we could’ve had all the films with multiple versions, not just five, with your sensible voice on commentary, and words in packet, and the real docus.

In connection with your article on the sorry state of Cassavetes film prints and the SUCKO treatment they get from video companies (The horrible, not raw or rough, just sloppy audio on the old FACES and A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE DVDs) and the even SUCKIER INDIFFERENCE they get from people who have been charged to take care of them, are the films in the Criterion the REAL DEAL. I mean, they aren’t like Opening Night with reels projected in the wrong order right? Or A Woman Under the Influence (The Remix Version)? Are they the ones JC made and screened? Or at least the closest ones?

On the collection: who are these guys they picked to write about the films? In basketball language, would any of them make the starting five on your roster to play for team Cassavetes?  

Based on the article of that Kent Jones guy, art as truth telling is apparently not self evident. Quoting from his The War at Home, “Diehard Cassavetes devotees do him no favors when they buy into his own pronouncements, and claim that his methods allow him greater purchase on the truth (whatever that is) than other filmmakers.” The “whatever that is” reads pretty cynical in tone to me.

I further quote “My films are the truth,” he once said during a personal appearance with a filmmaker of my acquaintance. Needless to say, my acquaintance was more than a little put off. Yet such pretentiousness is easily forgiven in a man like Cassavetes, just as it’s easy to make allowances for the pomposity contained within Bresson’s book of maxims. When you consider how far against the grain they both went, it’s understandable that they would accord their own idiosyncratic working methods the status of scientific breakthroughs or archeological finds.

There’s that word again pretentiousness. Here’s something I wrote about pretentiousness before: “At some level or another, all artists are pretentious, but the final proof is in their work. But then again, I’ve only heard mostly critics use that word to describe artists.”

Like you wrote before, it’s like sports figures, like politicians, we expect them to be gods, not human beings. Yes, they have greater responsibilities, but my god, they put on their pants one leg at a time like all of us. They pee. They do number two.

I have to admit, it wasn’t to me though. It wasn’t self evident. Art as truth telling. I thought art was about making pretty pictures back then. Boy was I wrong. (Like I wrote before, you fought FACES tooth and nail, I fought you tooth and nail and guts before).

It’s apt that Jones uses Bresson and Cassavetes as examples of two filmmakers with almost singular methods that became their own unique way of creating. Their methods don’t give them exclusivity on truth. I agree with him on that. But I’d argue that their methods, their process and their films contain deeper and more meaningful truths than the other filmmakers Jones mentioned (Hitchcock for one). Like you said, if we must make value judgments (hard to do in the everyone’s all right culture), I tell folks that on spirituality, on the soul, most other filmmakers who touch on it are to a kindergarten Sunday school reading assignment while Bresson is to the writings of people like St. Augustine and St. ! Teresa of Avila.   

With regards to the horrible row between you and Ms. Rowlands, Mr. Ruban (two R's!), I've only read your side. I haven't read or heard theirs, and I'd certainly like to. Just to hear how they can justify the whole thing. I saw your Trojan Horse in the French tv docu in disc 2 of FACES. I could not believe how they can sit there and deny or stay silent on the whole thing (money and lots of lawyers will help do that as you wrote) while the very person who is the reason any of this exists, saying through his own lips on film, on digital, in the video they endorsed that the first version of SHADOWS does exist and that he has not been ‘suppressing’ it.

And to top it all off there’s Ms. Rowlands in the hotel room, sitting on the bed, like the ever obedient wife, listening to her husband admit to the existence of a film that she almost forty years later is trying to deny exists and yet at the same time is also trying to confiscate and destroy the only known existing print of this unexisting film. We’ve heard of selective hearing, but there’s also selective memory and selective morality.

Oh well, God guide them. I hope things work out somehow.

Be well sir. God bless you and keep you safe.

Thank you.

Will write again soon.

Stay true,

JP Carpio

PS - How can Criterion justify Armageddon on their list of titles?

Ray Carney replies:


You have to understand the reason for Kent Jones’s remarks to understand them. They are a dig at me. That’s all that’s going on. He’s attacked my work before, and is just continuing the attack. In this case, when he says we shouldn’t take Cassavetes’ words serious, he just wants to deflate the Cass on Cass book I put together. You have to understand the personal side to understand the remark. Unfortunately, that’s the way critics are: jealous, petty, rivalrous, competitive. It’s his problem. And his fondness for Hitchcock speaks for itself. But he’s really a just a journalist in my view. Not a deep thinker. Accepts received notions.

About the Criterion copies: the answer is that NO, THESE ARE NOT THE VERSIONS RELEASED, OR THE COMPLETE VERSIONS. E.g. Woman Under the Influence was originally 154 minutes, but six or seven minutes were cut out of all releases about six months later and that is the print Criterion includes. The soundtrack is the 1990s remix soundtrack. Not the release one. Etc. Etc. But again I am the only person on the planet apparently who knows or cares about this. Certainly Rowlands and Ruban and the Cassavetes estate don't seem to care or notice. While Kent Jones is busy objecting to my Cass on Cass book, he should instead have been noting things like this. But what do you expect? A journalist wants to be able to interview Gena. Someone like KJ would never risk telling the truth about the prints. It might alienate her.

Hope you are feeling great soon. Forgive the brevity. Many emails to respond to.


Ray Carney's response to a reader who sent a check with a fairly large contribution to the "Shadows defense fund."

What can I say but thanks for the kind and generous donation? It’s so thoughtful and good of you. But I can’t possibly keep it. So I am sending back the ripped–up check with this note. You are in good company though. Years ago, near the end of his life, I sent John Cassavetes a similar donation and told him to put it toward making a new movie. He tore my check in half and mailed it back to me with a similar note. So you see we are now in the same boat and you have this letter just as I have John’s earlier one as proof of your good intentions.

All best wishes,

Ray Carney

Dear Mr. Carney,

I just wanted to write to you to express my support for you in regards to the situation with Criterion and Mrs. Rowlands. I feel that what they have done to you is despicable, and I also believe that you should pursue legal action to reclaim the material that by all means is your intellectual property. As a film lover and a DVD consumer, I feel that I have been betrayed by Criterion and Mrs. Rowlands. Now, I do not hold Mrs. Rowlands to any standards, as she has the right to do as she believes, but I feel that she is acting very unreasonably in her relations to you. Criterion on the other hand, has a responsibility to it's customers to provide the best product that they can. By not including your work or giving you credit for the work that they have included, they have proven that they are more interested in pleasing a movie star than respecting their consumers. Thank you for your time, and again, I would like to voice my utmost support for you in this regard.


Troy Weets

Ray Carney replies:


Thanks so much for the kind note of support. It really means a lot to me.

You are right. She has the right to say or do whatever she wants, but for Criterion to jump through her hoops in response is a different issue. It makes me wonder how much in “publishing” (of books, articles, and DVDs) is done to please movie stars or to avoid offending them. It’s a very troubling situation. We have the first amendment, but commerce and business values trump it. That’s the Criterion story in a nutshell.

Keep going to good films and supporting art. That’s what really matters.


Dear Professor Carney:

I am writing to you regarding my Senior Thesis. I am a student in Towson University’s Theatre Studies program and each undergraduate is required to write a thesis paper during their senior year.

I am a great admirer of John Cassavetes and would like to write about his work and its relation to the theatre. He wrote several of his films as plays before reworking and adapting them into screenplays (for example A Woman Under the Influence). I am still in the process of developing my thesis, and would like to talk about the transformation of his stage versions into screenplays. I would also like to discuss the repertory company he formed toward the end of his life.

My thesis is not due until the end of the fall semester. I am aware that without reading the manuscripts and talking to people who where involved with the stage productions, the topic is mute. I was wondering if you have copies of his plays (East/West Game, Knives, A Woman of Mystery, Begin the Beguine and Ted Allan’s Love Streams) that I might read and whether you would have time to discuss this project with me. 

Before returning to school two years ago, I worked in the film and theatre industry in New York both as an actor and behind the scenes in production. I first saw a copy of Shadows in 1994 and was instantly inspired. Over the years I have collected books about Cassavetes, and I have read your books, The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies; John Cassavetes: The Adventure of Insecurity; and Cassavetes on Cassavetes, as well as copies of his scripts and videos of his films.

I know that you are an expert on the life and work of Cassavetes and would very much like the opportunity to meet you.


Adrian Wattenmaker

Ray Carney replies:

I am glad to hear from you. I wish you great success on your project.

To your questions: I have everything. John gave everything to me. And Ted Allan gave me other things. But I cannot give you copies of JC's stage plays. Nor can anyone else, to my knowledge. Gena Rowlands absolutely forbids it. And forbids me to do it.

A deep point follows. Bear this in mind: There is a human tendency to think that the thing we can't get our hands on, the thing that we don't have access to, will suddenly reveal something critical, crucial, enlightening. It is a fallacy. A fallacy. A fallacy.

The fact is that you have the equivalent of hundreds of pages of Cassavetes' work already. You have his films and the scripts he worked from (based on what is in the films). Use this material. Study it. Master it. It is gold. Don't get hung up on a quest for what you don't have. You are deluding yourself if you do that. The films have an immense amount to teach you about JC’s conception of dialogue, drama, scene construction, character, etc. No one has yet written adequately on those subjects. You can do it! You don’t need anything else! Nothing but what you already have access to––the films!!!

But, to be complete in my answer: There is one script that is possibly worth procuring: the shooting script of Faces published by NAL/Signet years ago. You can find it on EBay or Abebooks or somewhere else on the internet if you are willing to pay a little to get it. But even here, you would do just as well to study, study, study the film that exists. This script will not reveal anything that is not already in the film.

In summary: Don't delude yourself by thinking there is something else out there that will reveal things to you. Everything you need to know is in the films themselves. If you don't understand what I mean, then I think you should pick another subject.

As to meeting, that may happen or may not, depending...

All best wishes.

Dear Professor Carney,

I have been reading your passionate books on John Cassavetes and I am constantly bedazzled by your dedication and by the beauty of your language.

Quite apart from your subject matter, the man himself, I wish to congratulate you on your eloquence. I haven't read any other Film Literature that holds a candle to you. If you think I sound superlative, I apologize; it's just so refreshing to read such thought provoking arguments in the field of Cinema. Thank you.

I am currently studying for my PhD, the subject of which is, you guessed it, John Cassavetes, but more specifically, the professional relationship (director/actor) between himself and Gena Rowlands. In the pursuit of this I would very much like to be in contact with Gena. I understand you are a friend and I'm hoping you might at least alert her to my interest in the topic. Ultimately. I would love to fly to the US in order to meet and interview her (and maybe yourself).

Just to put you in the picture (so to speak) I am a professional actor, TV director and screenwriter with 15 years experience. Hopefully this provides some common ground.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

Warm Regards

Ian Dixon

Ray Carney replies:


Thanks for the good words.

I appreciate the value of your project, but I am sorry that I cannot be more encouraging about Gena Rowlands’s involvement and assistance.

To start with, I am not at liberty to give out Ms. Rowlands’s contact information. She does not want that done.

Secondly, she has shown no willingness in the past to help other researchers. As an illustration, I know of three different individuals, high–level professional authors all, who expressed interest in writing biographies of Cassavetes whom I put in touch with her. Their desire was simply to ask her a few questions. They were willing to do it in writing, on the telephone, in person, or any other way she requested. She turned all three down flat. She would not only not reply to their inquiries, she would not even acknowledge she received them. I could give you a dozen other examples, but that should make my point.

Ms. Rowlands has shown utterly NO interest whatsoever in assisting anyone, in any way, at any time since her husband’s death. The interviews she has given are strictly to promote projects – films, video releases, events. Nothing has been done to help researchers, biographers, scholars, students, or anyone else with a serious interest. Nothing –– in almost twenty years.

If it’s any consolation to you, I would point out that I include myself and my own work in that generalization. She refuses to answer my own research questions. She refuses to talk about her life with Cassavetes. She refuses to clarify biographical facts, dates, events.

Of course, given the fact that I am so heavily involved in the presentation of the films, I have talked with Rowlands in person and participated in public events (including interview and question–and–answer sessions) that she participates in, but apart from these moments, even when I ask to interview her for my research, or ask her if she can clarify this or that fact, she turns me down flat. No sympathy, no advice, no help, nothing.

She has also evinced absolutely NO desire to make any of her husband’s unpublished letters, screenplays, or other materials available for research –– to me or to anyone else.

Of course, I count myself lucky. John gave me dozens of things before he died. He talked about his life and work, his fears, doubts, and despairs with me. He answered my questions. He was patient and helpful. He was the opposite of her. The opposite in every way. As far as providing help and assistance to others (and to me in particular), he was open, kind, giving, generous, thoughtful, caring, helpful. But she is not him. Her personality is entirely different. Her actions are totally different. If you carefully read between the lines in my Cassavetes on Cassavetes book, you will begin to see what I am getting at. But there is too much to say, to include it all–––there or here.

A word to the wise: You would do well to take the preceding into account when you are inclined to wax poetic about Cassavetes’ degree of artistic “collaboration” with Rowlands. Yes, they worked together. Yes, she starred in many of the films. But, no, they were not “collaborators” in the other sense. She resisted making many of the films. She often hated that he spent his money this way and tried to talk him out of it. She was out of sympathy with much that he did. She was and is a totally different person from him. Totally.

All best wishes,


Dear Ray,

Thank you enormously for your considered and lengthy response to my request.

Although I had noted that your texts were elliptical about Ms Rowlands, I am still flabbergasted and shocked at your email. Naturally, I have come to trust the authority of your voice through your works, so it is with regret that I accept the truth of what you say.

As a director of TV myself, I know all too well how charming and deceptive an actor can be, if they choose to be. What fills me with gratification is your reference to John as a thoroughly decent bloke. A man who can create such beauty on screen must surely have it in his soul. Not to mention his keen eye for the "truth" - "Truth in Cinema", incidentally, was to be the topic of my thesis, but I was advised to hone it all down and chose the Rowlands-Cassavetes relationship as the new core. Well, time to re-think again! (Not to mention some of my own post-feminist views.)

The original idea of "Truth" was to have an emphasis on Cassavetes and Mike Leigh - so thanks for the Mike Leigh book as well. It seems ironic that in choosing the Rowlands-Cassavetes topic, I was, in part, relieved to avoid a confrontation with Leigh. A crisis of faith, perhaps?

One thing for certain, you have a true gift for expression and I hope that one day, you'll catch one of my own films, but I'm still working on that illusive feature. Let's hope the spirit of John can help!

Ray, once again, thanks for your advice and if ever you come to Australia...yada, yada, yada...

Drop me an email now and again if you feel like it.

Ian Dixon

Subject: A Woman Under the Influence Script

Hello! I'm a filmmaker who loves Cassavetes, and I'm wondering if any of his scripts have been published, especially this one. I have your book, Shadows, and I thought if anyone knows, it would be you. Thanks!

Alisa R. Lomax

Ray Carney replies:


Tell me about yourself. I'm always interested. Where are you from? What films have you made? Features or shorts or what? How did you discover Cassavetes' work?

My web site has detailed answers to your question. The short answer is: Screenplays to Faces and Minnie and Moskowitz were published during John's lifetime but nothing is currently in print and available. And nothing about the film you ask for: Woman Under the Influence.

Gena Rowlands has everything but won't allow it to be published or distributed under the idea that "John only wanted the final work to be available." That was and is why she won't let me show the first version of Shadows and why she has resisted the release of the first or earlier versions of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Faces. She has a very primitive notion of art. Only the released films count.

I myself have much of this material since John gave me drafts and scripts before he died, but I cannot send them to anyone. Gena simply won't allow it and has no sympathy with inquiries. I have asked her to make it available for scholarly research dozens of times and she has turned me down every single time. I have also offered to contact publishers about getting it into print, but she has no interest in preserving or expanding her husband's cinematic legacy in this way.

It's part of a larger problem that I don't have time to go into here and now, but if you are interested, see the Ray Carney's discoveries section of my site for more about her attempts to prevent material from being seen or read. It's all there. Enough to make you laugh or cry -- or pull our your hair. : )

All best wishes,



I just watched Charles Kiselyak's "A Constant Forge" and as a huge Cassavetes fan I certainly drank all of it up gluttonously. But, as it finished 3 1/2 hours later I came to this conclusion: As much as I cherish any tidbit about his life, I couldn't help but feel that JC would think the documentary was bullshit. Where was THEIR integrity as they celebrated his. Where was THEIR honesty? There was absolutely no mention of his drinking. No mention of his weaknesses. He would vomit at this schmultzy love letter. Using his works as a measuring stick, the documentary to me was a total failure in effort alone. It is the equivalent of a crappy soap opera. I know they had the reference material, because so much of your "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" book was recited as the voice-over narration.

That said, I was also surprised to see the lack of footage from Minnie and Moskowitz, Gloria and (I believe) Love Streams. Were their rights problems or was this the filmmaker's choice.

Any comments on any of these issues would be greatly appreciated.


Ray Carney replies:

The answers to all of your questions are elsewhere on the site. The Kiselyak doc.was a slip-shod "authorized" biography with all the shortcomings of a work that sets out to please a movie star, Gena Rowlands in this case. It's a sanitized, superficial, romanticized version of Cassavetes' life and work.

As to why it includes some clips and not others, well, that's because those are the particular clips that Gena Rowlands let Kiselyak use for free. He would have had to pay to use the others and when making a dollar is the goal, that meant he simply dropped clips from those other films from the work. Money talks.

About the narration: It was stolen from my Cass on Cass book without payment or permission. I found out it was used this way when I saw the film. I protested. Kiseyak had a lawyer reply to my protest, in effect denying it all and telling me I would have to prove my case in court. You see how things work? Money talks.

Now, here's a question for you: Why has no critic or reviewer in America mentioned the above facts and events? Mentioned the awfulness of the documentary that is obvious to you on a first viewing? Mentioned the discussions of the things above that are readily available on my web site? Mentioned the stealing of my material? Mentioned my firing from the Criterion project and removal of my name after I already did hundreds of hours of work on it?

Noam Chomsky talks about "the institutional control of discourse." C. Wright Mills talks about how the "power elite" write the narratives that we call "news." Neil Postman talks about "entertaining ourselves to death." Read any of them and you will have a good start on understanding what's wrong with film criticism and film reviewing today. Reviewers are suck-ups to celebrity. In awe of power, wealth, and fame. Cowards, bureaucrats, time-servers more interested in careerism and maintaining good relations with people in power than in truth-telling.

So that's the real answer, the deep answer to your questions.

Now forget all of that and go out and do something creative! Negativity does nothing. Railing and raging does nothing. Regretting does nothing. Creativity can change the world. If they don't lock us up first!!!!

Just do it!


Subject: Cassavetes Film Series

Dear Mr. Carney,

I'm a student at the University of Chicago proposing a Cassavetes retrospective series at Doc Films, our student-run theatre, for the fall. I'm looking for distribution, and I found out that you have the preview cut of Shadows. Would you be willing to screen it at Doc? Also, it would be an honor to have you introduce a film and host a discussion afterwards, as the preeminent Cassavetes scholar. The series will be ten films, starting with Shadows and ending with Love Streams, omitting such studio works as A Children's Hour.

I loved your book, Cassavetes on Cassavetes, by the way.


Alexandra Ensign

Ray Carney replies:

Dear Alexandra,

Good to hear from you! Yes, I'd be very interested in pursuing this. That is to say:

1) screening the first version of Shadows
2) moderating a panel discussion about it and other things
3) introducing other Cassavetes films and conducting audience discussions about them
4) and, while we're at it, screening both versions of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie as well and conducting discussions of them too
5) Possibly screening both versions of Faces too (if the Library of Congress can be prevailed upon)

But note that the devil is in the details. I don't want to fly into Chicago--or anywhere else--for anything less than a major, important, creative event. As noted above, that means that I would want to show both versions of Shadows and Bookie and to support the screenings with a scholarly panel or lecture series devoted to discussing Cassavetes' creative process. I would want to run a series of "high level", "professional" quality events. Introductions and post-screening discussions would have to be done "right," with enough time allowed for the discussions. Program notes and handouts would have to be part of the events. Etc. Etc. I am thinking in terms of a week or two of Cassavetes films and events in all.

In short, I don't want a quickie screening of Shadows or a quickie series of events that are attended by people who are not knowledgeable and seriously committed to the subject. I speak from (bitterly disappointing) experience. I have flown into too many festivals that aren't committed to serious presentations. They just want the box office dollars and prestige of being able to say that they are showing an unnknown film or presenting a premiere. That's why I have turned down similar previous inquiries from all over the world--because people are not willing to do this right. They want me to give them the film simply to bring in the crowds of viewers. I refuse to provide the film for that sort of occasion.

So in summary: I am willing to show the first version of Shadows anywhere, anytime, for anyone (a student film society, a professional scholarly meeting, a movie theater) if it is DONE RIGHT--meaning intelligently, carefully, in a way that allows people to learn things from the events, not merely walk in, walk out, and put two thumbs up or down. That is a waste of their time and a waste of my time.

Note that with the exception of a few of the events I have organized for Anthology Film Archive in New York long ago (all praise be to Jonas Mekas!), and a few of the events I conducted to support the national tour of Cassavetes' work after his death this has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE for Cassavetes. With these sole exceptions (and most of these events took place ten or fifteen years ago) there has NOT BEEN A SINGLE scholarly panel or film festival lecture devoted to Cassavetes' work. Ever. It's actually shocking to realize this. EVERY OTHER CASSAVETES EVENT of the past fifteen years, at Sundance, at Tribeca, at Denver, in L.A, in New York, EVERY CASSAVETES event all around the world, has, at most, simply consisted of wheeling in some know-nothing bimbo movie star to do a Q-and-A or sit on a panel with a bunch of other bimbo movie stars or directors. Seymour Cassel. Gena Rowlands. Peter Bogdanovich. Martin Scorsese. Or someone else with "name" value. Someone else who will "draw." I am not exaggerating when I say that there has been NOT ONE really intelligent, thoughtful, careful discussion of even a single film in front of an audience in this entire time. I know whereof I speak. I have been at most of the Cassavetes events in this period of time. My heart sinks at the cravenness, the celebrity worship, the shallowness, the glibness of the presentations. Artistic creation is turned into a bunch of comical anecdotes. Is that the meaning of life? Is that why we're here? To hear movie stars tell funny stories?

Without a single exception, the festivals and theaters and film series have been more interested in the drawing power of an idiot movie star than in having a serious discussion of Cassavetes' life, work, or creative process. Their priorities are totally backward. I speak from long and sad experience. The festivals spend dozens of hours making arrangements with Gena Rowlands or Peter Bogdanovich or someone similar and spend tens of thousands of dollars flying them in first class, shuttling them around in stretch limos, giving them fancy meals in five star restaurants, and putting them up in swanky hotel rooms, but when I ask the director to allow me to give a single serious lecture or hold a single serious discussion of a film (not a boring, tedious presentation, but simply a serious, thoughtful, informative one), they tell me they don't have the time! Or that their budget won't support it! Or that it will be too much trouble to arrange and publicize! I have attended dozens of these events in the past and played genial Master of Ceremonies, but I refuse to be part of another one. They are a waste of my time and of everyone else's. They are part of our sick culture of celebrity suck-up and adulation. I refuse to perpetuate it. Enough is enough.

Now what's in it for you, you ask? Because this has never been done before, I am certain that you could get national press coverage if you arranged the sort of events I have described. It would be the sort of event Roger Ebert, NPR, and many other news outlets should cover. The first intelligent, careful consideration of Cassavetes' life and work. For that reason alone, it would bring in a large audience. I am certain it would be a success, intellectually and commercially. And I would love to be part of it. But, to reiterate: to provide the first version of Shadows and to come in and do an intro. for a screening or two is not something I am willing to do or even to discuss.

Perhaps your next step would be to see if there is any interest in (or support from) the U of Chicago film faculty for this. Let's get some professors on board. Let's get some scholars involved. Or you might approach the Gene Siskel Film Study Center (a good place). If you got a few people to commit to it, I would LOVE to discuss this further, but again, it has to be done handsomely and intelligently or there is no point in going any further with our discussions.

Feel free to forward this email to anyone else who might help. If they don't know who I am or what the first version of Shadows is, tell them to go to my web site:

All best wishes,
Ray Carney

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.

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© Text Copyright 2004 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.