The first version of Shadows is one of Ray Carney's most important artistic finds, but Professor Carney has made a name for himself as the discoverer and presenter of many other new works of art prior to this. To read about a few of his other cinematic and literary finds, click here.

To read a personal account of Ray Carney's day by day search for the first version of Shadows, click here.

To learn how to acquire more information about the two versions of the film, click here and look for three different sets of material: Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes (Faber and Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux), his book on the making of Shadows (British Film Institute "Film Classics"/University of California Press), and the booklet entitled A Detective Story – Going Inside the Heart and Mind of the Artist : A Study of Cassavetes' Revisionary Process in the Two Versions of Shadows.

A Detective Story–
The Two Versions of Shadows:
A Study of Cassavetes' Revisionary Process

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John Cassavetes' Shadows is one of the pioneering works of the American independent movement. Made for $40,000 with a nonprofessional cast and crew, using rented and borrowed 16mm equipment, the film depicts a few days in the lives of three African-American siblings – Hugh, Ben, and Lelia. Hugh, the big brother, is the responsible one, who supports himself and his siblings both financially and emotionally. As a floundering jazz singer unable to get his career off the ground, he struggles to maintain his dignity and composure as he skirmishes with the impresario Ackerman, his manager Rupert, and his younger brother Ben. Ben is Hugh's opposite – a self-absorbed, self-pitying Beat drifter and carouser who mooches Hugh's hard earned cash and squanders it cruising for girls and getting into barroom brawls with his buddies Tom and Dennis. But the de facto star of Cassavetes' film without stars is Hugh and Ben's flirtatious, self-dramatizing, light-skinned little sister, Lelia. She is dating an older man, David, when Shadows begins, but meets a callow Don Juan named Tony at a party and has sex with him the next day. When he deserts her after he discovers her race, her world falls apart.

Given the tininess of its budget and the roughness of its production values, the film is surprisingly delicate and nuanced – a subtle, semi-comic drama of self-discovery in which the characters explore who they are and what ultimately matters in their lives.

Shadows ends with a now famous title card: "The film you have just seen was an improvisation," and for decades was hailed as a masterpiece of Beat spontaneity. Shortly before Cassavetes' death, however, I had a "Rosebud" conversation with him in which he told me something he had never before revealed – that much of the film, as it comes down to us, was not improvised, but scripted. He said that Shadows was in fact shot twice. During the first period of filming, between late February and mid-May 1957, most of the scenes were the product of guided improvisations. Cassavetes would give the actors situations to react to and dictate the dramatic outcome of the scene, but allowed the actors to come up with most of the actual dialogue. After a year and a half spent in postproduction (delayed due to problems with the poorly recorded soundtrack), the approximately 60-minute, 16mm print was shown in November 1958 to invited audiences at three free midnight screenings at New York's Paris Theater.

But Cassavetes went on to say that he was so dissatisfied with the audience response that he decided he would have to reshoot and re-edit much of the film if he ever intended to release it. Immediately after the Paris Theater screenings he contacted a screenwriter he had met two years before while working on Edge of the City, Robert Alan Aurthur. Earlier in 1958 Cassavetes had commissioned Aurthur to write a television pilot for him to star in, and he approached him again to write a series of scenes to be added to the Shadows footage. Cassavetes also had another friend, photographer Sam Shaw, put his camera on a tripod in the back of a screening room and take dozens of still photographs, documenting the actors' clothing, the positions of props and furniture, the layout of sets, and details of lighting and framing, so that he could attempt to match the new footage with the old as accurately as possible.

Once the new scenes were written, sometime around February 1959, Cassavetes regathered his cast and crew, and spent approximately two weeks shooting the new material, working around the clock in marathon sessions running from twelve to twenty hours a day. The revised composite print, consisting of a mix of old and new footage with new sound and music added, was assembled in the spring, summer, and early fall at the same facilities in which the first version had been edited (Movielab at 619 West 54th Street in New York) and in November 1959 was premiered in Amos Vogel's Cinema 16 series. It is the print that comes down to us.

Given that the 1958 print of Shadows – and not the 1959 version – was really Cassavetes' first feature film, I asked the filmmaker two questions: First, which scenes were in the initial version; and second, how could I get to see it? Unfortunately, the news was bad on both counts. In answer to the first question, Cassavetes told me that he could not remember which scenes were done during which period of shooting. In response to the second, he had even more discouraging news. He said only one print of the first version had ever existed, and that at some point in the 1960s or 1970s, seeing no reason to hold onto it, he had "given it to a film school" whose name he claimed not to remember. (Jonas Mekas subsequently told me of a similar conversation he had with Cassavetes in which the filmmaker was slightly more specific and said that he had donated the print of the first version to "a school in the Midwest.") However, after spending months querying various schools and archives in the Midwest and elsewhere, I have concluded that the 1958 print no longer exists. Whoever Cassavetes gave it to undoubtedly did not appreciate its uniqueness, and since its sound and picture quality were admittedly quite poor, it was probably discarded as unscreenable sometime after the donation was made.

Although Cassavetes died shortly after my talk with him, our conversation convinced me that one last option was available – particularly since a few members of the cast and crew were still alive. By drawing on their memories and studying tell-tale internal details visible in the current compilation print (particularly given the fact that two full years separated the shoots and the process of matching the early and late footage was quite imperfect), I was convinced that it might be possible definitively to identify the footage from the two periods of shooting in order imaginatively to reconstruct the lost first version.

I devoted my spare time during the next fifteen years to doing two things: The first was searching for a surviving copy of the original version of the film. Between 1987 and the present, I made announcements at events I moderated. I telephoned or emailed hundreds of universities, film archives, film collectors, film critics, and others who had any connection with the early screenings to find out if they had any leads as to the existence of the first version. There were a number of high hopes and false alarms – and I spent thousands of dollars of my own money traveling to dozens of cities visiting people who told me they thought they might have information about the early print and made thousands of additional phone calls pursuing leads. As of the end of 2001, nothing concrete had come of any of these trips and conversations. However, as I have noted elsewhere in my writing, I did find a lost "long" print of Faces while looking for the Shadows print. Click here to read about the Faces discovery. Click here to read about the recent discovery of the first version of Shadows. And click here to read about the response of the world's press to it.

The other thing I did at the same time was to track down and interview everyone I could locate associated with either period of shooting – actors Hugh Hurd, Lelia Goldoni, David Pokotilow, and Tony Ray; producers Maurice McEndree and Seymour Cassel (who were close to Cassavetes throughout his early career and involved in many different projects with him); and friends, advisors, and crew members Erich Kollmar, George O'Halloran, Burton Lane, Harry Mastrogeorge, Al Ruban, Tom Bower, Meta Shaw, Sam Shaw, and Gena Rowlands. Unfortunately, Robert Alan Aurthur was already dead by the time I had the conversation with Cassavetes. Although Jean Aurthur, the writer's surviving second wife, was unable to locate any material connected with her husband's involvement in the film, as partial confirmation of Cassavetes' words, Erich Kollmar told me that Aurthur sat in on the set during some of the shooting of the first version, and David Pokotilow confirmed that Aurthur was present during much of the re-shoot. Another invaluable source of information was provided by approximately 2500 photographs taken by Marvin Lichtner documenting almost every aspect of the first shoot-from details of the Variety Arts stage set and Cassavetes' office, to a virtual shot-by-shot record of the scenes and events filmed for the first version, to photographs of Cassavetes working with musicians to score the film, working with Maurice McEndree editing it, and introducing it at its world premiere at the Paris Theater in New York.

I also viewed all available prints to check for variations in the edit (which one particular print in the possession of the Library of Congress does display). And I spent months meticulously studying the current print-scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot, and frame-by-frame where necessary – to identify minor discrepancies in actors' appearances or details in the locations, sets, and costumes that could yield information about when and where each scene was shot. (One final source of information is still being pursued: Ross Lipman, a preservationist at the UCLA Film and Television Archive who has access to the original A and B rolls of the 1959 negative, has kindly agreed to provide me with a list of edge markings and notes about any emulsion or processing differences that may be indicative of different shooting dates; as of the time I am writing this, this material has yet to be provided.)

The table contains the detailed results. The amount of information I was able to excavate from the current print or that was revealed to me by the cast and crew far exceeded my most optimistic expectations. The changes Cassavetes made could not have been more radical or more revealing. Throughout his career, the filmmaker often extensively altered his films in the editing room, and what I discovered was the degree to which, in assembling the second print of Shadows, he rethought virtually every aspect of his film – changing, reconceptualizing, deepening characters and scenes in scores of ways.

The basic facts that emerged are as follows: To start with, approximately 20 minutes of footage in the first version (one-third of its original 60-minute running time) were simply cut out and discarded, and approximately 40 minutes of new footage were added (making for a new running time of just over 80 minutes, meaning that the current print is approximately half-scripted and half-improvised).

But cutting and adding footage were only part of Cassavetes' process of re-thinking his material. During the re-editing stage, he changed the earlier print in many subtle, but important ways. Of the 40 minutes of footage retained from the first version, more than a third (15 minutes) were moved to new positions within the edit to change their narrative function and meaning: the rehearsal hall scene; Ben, Tom, and Dennis's early barroom pickup scene; the pre-fight, argument, fight, and post-fight scenes that now appear near the end of the film (but which came much earlier in the 1958 print); and the rock-and-roll party that now comprises the credits sequence (which originally occurred in the middle of the film). Another "old" scene, Tony's call from a pay phone, was both relocated and radically shortened (going from an approximate two-minute to a five-second running time) to reverse its meaning. Finally, the nightclub scene and final fight scenes were lightly re-edited, and the rehearsal hall scene was extensively re-edited (with almost entirely new footage, only a few shots being retained from the earlier version, with new dialogue looped into them).

In terms of sound, new music (including a series of evocative saxophone solos) was added throughout the film and much of the music from the first version was recycled and mixed into newly shot scenes.

The final changes were that during the re-edit, Cassavetes rethought the position of two of the newly shot scenes – Ben, Tom, and Dennis's "I got the money!" moment and the reshot rehearsal hall scene – and placed them in different locations from where he had originally intended them to occur.

The establishment of basic facts about the creation of the two versions, and the reconstruction as far as possible of what was in the first version has obvious historical value. But I would not have devoted so many years to this project if I did not think it had far greater significance than a merely archeological one.

The comparison of the two versions provides an almost unprecedented opportunity to go behind the scenes into the workshop of the artist. We can eavesdrop, as it were, on Cassavetes' creative process, watching his mind at work as he changes his understanding of his film and his characters. His revisions – the scenes he added, deleted, looped new dialogue into, added new music to, or moved to new positions as he re-viewed, re-filmed, and re-edited Shadows – provide a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the heart and mind of one of the most important artists of the past fifty years, as he experiments with new forms of expression and responds to his own previous ideas.


Gena Rowlands has expressed her desire to confiscate and suppress the print of the first version of Shadows. She has threatened legal action if Ray Carney shows it in public and refused to allow it to be released on videotape or disk. However, Ray Carney has been advised by intellectual property lawyers that the print and the right to screen it are completely and absolutely free of copyright restrictions and that it is his to screen and distribute as he sees fit.

Note also that the newly discovered first version of Shadows is not to be confused with the so-called "restored" UCLA print, which is merely a copy of the same print that has been in circulation for the past forty-five years. The UCLA print is identical to the existing version of Shadows. There are no differences. The first version, on the other hand, is a completely different film, with different scenes, shots, and dialogue.

For a more detailed account of Ray Carney's discovery of the first version of Shadows, click here. For more information about the attempts of Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands to seize and suppress the print and prevent future screenings of it, click here. The top menu on both of the pages that will open has more choices if you want to learn more about Rowlands, Ruban, and the Shadows situation.

Al Ruban and Gena Rowlands claim that Cassavetes did not want the first version of Shadows shown. They are simply wrong. Click here to read Ray Carney's response to a reader who asked about this issue. What were Cassavetes' feelings about screenings of the first version? Did he want it to be suppressed? Did he suppress it?

For anyone interested in learning more, my The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies (Cambridge, England and New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994) has an extended critical discussion of the film. My Shadows monograph in the British Film Institute "Film Classics" series (distributed in the United States by the University of California Press) and my John Cassavetes: The Adventure of Insecurity (Boston: Company C, 2000) have additional information about the film's production history and Cassavetes' reconceptualization of it during the reshooting and re-editing process. The BFI book includes a preliminary, abridged version of the table that follows, which appears here for the first time in its final form.

* * *

Shots, scenes, and sections of the film are identified both by their content and by the running time at which they occur in the current print so that they may be easily located on videotape, DVD, or film.

Sequential time (from the first frame of the 1959 print) Year scene was filmed Summary of the shot, scene, or sequence (Shaded scenes were improvised in Spring 1957 and were the basis of the Fall 1958 assembly. Unshaded scenes were scripted and shot in late Winter 1959 and added to the Fall 1959 print.) Basis for the dating (See Key #1) Critical Observations(See Key #2)
0–2:06 1957 A rock-and-roll party. The credits. Ben makes his way through the crowd and cowers in the corner. (Moved from its 1958 position following the "Mary had a little lamb" moment.) BC, a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Cut 1957 The initial scene of the 1958 print. Old friends Tony and David meet on the street. David invites Tony to his party that night. b 7
2:06–2:18 1957 Most Happy Fella’. Ben walks down the street. BC, c, d, e, f 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 84
Cut 1957 David and Lelia go into a pharmacy and David caresses Lelia’s hair. g  
2:18–2:59 1959 "I got the money!" Ben runs up to Tom and Dennis with twenty dollars; a fight ensues with a friend; they head off to carouse. (When it was shot, this scene was intended to follow the rehearsal hall scene; it was moved to this position during the re-editing process.) BC, DS, TA, h 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 84
Cut 1957 Ben goes inside the rehearsal hall and asks Hugh for money, while Hugh argues with Rupert about his musical arrangements and with Ackerman about how much he will be paid. Hugh’s perpetual tardiness is emphasized. i, j, k 20, 21, 22
3:00–6:16 1957 Ben, Tom, and Dennis go into a bar and try to pick up three girls. (In the 1958 print, this scene immediately followed the rehearsal hall scene.) BC, DS, TA, e, f, i, l 2, 4, 6, 11, 13, 23, 24, 84
6:16–6:56 1957 Ben walks down the street and into the entrance of a building. (In the 1958 print, this scene preceded the cut rehearsal hall scene above.) BC, f 6, 8, 9, 11, 25, 26
6:56–10:41 1959 Ben goes inside the rehearsal hall and asks Hugh for money, while Hugh argues with Rupert and Ackerman about the indignity of introducing a girlie line. (When it was re-shot in 1959, this scene was intended to occur earlier; it was moved to this position during the re-editing process.) BC, JA, HH, i, j, k, m, n 3, 4, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
7:20–10:10 1957 Five shots from the 1957 shoot are edited into the rehearsal hall sequence at 7:20–7:41; 8:14–8:20; 9:21–9:31 9:35–9:49; 9:49–10:10. BC, JA, HH, e, j, k, n 4, 20
Moved 1957 The scene running from 3:00 to 6:16 appeared at this point in the 1958 edit.    
10:43–12:01 1959 Lelia sees Hugh off at Grand Central. Hugh runs off and waves. HH, LG, i, o, p 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
12:01–12:26 1957 Hugh meets Rupert and they run for a bus. HH, f, o 6, 9, 27, 50
12:26–13:48 1959 Lelia walks past movie theaters and is accosted by a stranger. LG, i, l, p, q 6, 9, 10, 27, 33, 38, 39, 24
13:48–16:56 1957 Hugh, Sam, and Rupert rehearse jokes in Sam’s apartment. Hugh complains about the indignity of what he has to do. r, s 3, 14, 22, 27, 28, 30, 40, 41, 42, 43
Cut 1957 The nightclub dressing room. In the foreground, the girls talk and prepare for the show; in the background, Hugh argues with Rupert about his musical arrangements and with Ackerman about how much he is being paid.   22, 27, 30
16:56–19:34 1957 The nightclub. Two comedians perform; Rupert and Ackerman watch Hugh on stage. Hugh is cut off and the girlie line comes out. JA, e, k, m, n, t 3, 4, 20, 22, 27, 28, 30, 36, 42, 44, 45, 46, 83
19:34–23:10 1959 At a table in the soda fountain. David, Lelia, Ben, Tom, and Dennis. BC, DP, DS, TA, LG, h, i, j, l 6, 11, 19, 33, 37, 47
23:11–26:01 1959 Ben, Tom, and Dennis in the Museum of Modern Art sculpture garden. BC, DS, TA, h, i, u, v 6, 11, 19, 48, 49
Cut 1957 David’s literary party. Tony flirts with David’s girl. u, w 7, 40
26:01–29:01 1959 David’s literary party. Tony tries to pick up various girls. DP, LG, TR, r, u, w, x 7, 40, 51, 73
29:01–31:21 1959 David, Lelia, and Tony converse at David’s party. DP, LG, TR, i, r, u 7, 28, 33, 40, 52
31:21–32:51 1957 David, Lelia, and Tony walk through Central Park. Moe greets them. Lelia and Tony run away. DP, LG, TR, i, l , y 4, 6, 7, 24, 53, 83
32:51–34:47 1959 Lelia and Tony talk on the sidewalk in front of his apartment. LG, TR, i, r, y 6, 15, 19, 33, 54, 55
34:48–36:35 1959 Lelia and Tony in Tony’s apartment hugging and kissing. LG, TR, i, z 27, 33, 56
Cut 1957 Tony seduces Lelia in a near-rape scene. i, z  
36:36–40:16 1959 Post-coital scene. Lelia and Tony in bed. LG, TR, i, l, r, v, aa 6, 15, 19, 24, 27, 28, 33, 48, 52, 56, 57
40:18–41:43 1959 "I love you truly." Lelia and Tony and the cabby. LG, TR, i, r, aa 4, 27, 33, 58
Moved 1957 The sequence running from 1:13:29 to 1:18:40 appeared at this point in the 1958 edit.    
41:45–48:25 1957 At the Carruthers apartment. The three boys play cards and make a phone call; Lelia and Tony dance and lie on the couch together; Hugh and Rupert unexpectedly return; discovering Lelia’s race, Tony says he has to go. Hugh comforts Lelia. BC, DS, HH, LG, TA, TR, i, e, bb 6, 15, 22, 27, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 83, 84
48:25–48:30 1957 Top Secret Affair. Tony makes a phone call. (In the 1958 print, it was to David claiming Lelia seduced him; in the 1959 edit, it is a call to Lelia.) cc 7, 10, 27, 64

Key #1: How the dates of scenes were determined (an excerpt)

Ben Carruthers (who acted with Cassavetes again in The Dirty Dozen) used a sunlamp during the spring of 1957 and is tanned in all of the scenes from that period (although the lighting occasionally makes it hard to see). He had discontinued use of it in 1959 and is much paler. A second difference in Ben's appearance in the two shoots is that during the 1957 shoot, he frequently wore a light-colored V-neck sweater with three dark stripes around the neckline, and less frequently a beige crew-neck sweater. In the 1959 shoot, in place of either of these sweaters, he wore a dark navy sweater with a ribbed turtleneck and a variegated pattern just below the neckline, across the upper chest area. The presence or absence of any one of these three sweaters is an absolute marker of the 1957 or 1959 shoot. The light-colored sweaters are visible in several early scenes when his jacket is open at the top or he is wearing a sport coat, and in scenes late in the film when the sleeves or bottom hem of the sweater extend beyond the sleeves or bottom edge of his leather jacket. The dark-colored sweater with a variegated pattern is clearly visible in the rehearsal hall scene. The only two sources of potential confusion are in the 1957 rehearsal hall shots, where Ben wears a dark colored turtle-neck under his sport coat, and in several exterior scenes in the 1957 shoot, when Ben wears a dark scarf under his jacket over the lighter-colored, triple-stripe V-neck sweater. Lelia Goldoni gave the scarf to him as a present during the first shoot, and any scene in which he wears the scarf around his neck or carries it in his pocket positively dates the scene as an early one. (He takes the scarf off near the end of the movie and has it in his pocket in some of the final shots.)
     A third, less clear marker of the two shoots is Ben's hair. In the 1957 shoot, he wore his hair at two different lengths: long and straight in a couple of the 1957 rehearsal hall shots, but shorter, curlier, and more stringy in his other 1957 scenes, including all of the ones filmed on the Variety Arts stage, the early scene with the three girls, and all of the scenes in the final ten minutes of the film. (The reason for the change of length is that early in the 1957 shoot, but after the filming of the early version of the rehearsal hall sequence, Cassavetes asked all three boys to get haircuts.) In every scene of the 1959 shoot, Ben's hair is fairly long and bushy. The scenes in the rehearsal hall, the soda fountain, and the bedroom interaction with Lelia may be used as reference points for the length of his hair at that time.
     There are a few additional minor differences in Ben's appearance in the two shoots. In the 1959 shoot, the left collar on his leather jacket has curled over nearly in a complete circle, while in the 1957 shoot, the curl has not progressed as far. Ben wears white leather gloves in several of the scenes in the 1957 shoot (e.g. in the scene near the end of the film in which the altercation with the three boys occurs and the subsequent bar scene in which he says that he has learned a lesson), but never during the reshoot. Finally, during some of the 1959 reshoot period he had a toothache and a slightly swollen cheek, and he occasionally turns his head away from the camera to conceal the swelling or uses an ice pack to ease the pain (as in the soda fountain scene).

DJ Davey Jones wore a plain collar in the 1957 shoot, but a collar pin in the 1959 reshoot.
DP In the 1957 shoot, David Pokotilow’s hair is short and neatly trimmed; in 1959, it is a little longer, and it sticks up higher and looks fairly wispy.
DS Dennis Sallas's 1957 and 1959 scenes may be told apart by the condition of his trench coat, particularly the belt. In the first shoot, the coat appears to be new and the belt is smooth, lies flat around his waist, and is neatly buckled in the front. In the second shoot, the coat is wrinkled and the belt is twisted and secured by being knotted and tucked in on itself. Its 1957 appearance is visible in the sequence in which Dennis walks into the restaurant where the boys meet the three girls near the start of the film, the sequence in the Carruthers apartment where the boys call the airline stewardess, and the drinking scene before the final fight (all of which show the new coat with its flat, neatly laced belt), while its 1959 appearance is illustrated by the scene in the MoMA sculpture garden.
     Dennis's face and hair change slightly in the two years between the shoots, but noticing the change requires becoming very familiar with his appearance through repeated viewings. (In 1959 Sallas also played the bartender in Cassavetes' Johnny Staccato series.)
HH Hugh Hurd's white cap is different in the two shoots. In the 1957 shoot, the hat has a plain back and the brim and front are secured with a single snap fastener; in the 1959 shoot, the hat has a small ornamental buckle at the back and the front of the hat is sewed onto the brim in a line. In the 1957 shoot, Hugh also looks slightly younger than he does in 1959.
     Hurd's hair is one of the hardest aspects of his appearance to date. It varied during the 1957 shoot, ranging from looking long, shaggy, and unkempt in some of the scenes shot on the stage, to short and neatly trimmed in the 1957 shots of the rehearsal studio scene.
     Hurd remained friends with Cassavetes throughout his life. He subsequently appeared in A Woman Under the Influence and was offered a chance to act in Gloria, though he didn't appear in it.
JA Jack Ackerman, the impresario, wears a collar pin and light-colored tie in the rehearsal studio and nightclub scenes in the 1957 shoot, but a straight collar and a darker tie in the 1959 reshoot. My Cassavetes on Cassavetes and John Cassavetes: A Life in Art have much more information about Ackerman and his relationship with Cassavetes.
LG By her own report, Lelia Goldoni's hair was much longer in 1957 than it was in 1959-mid-back length in the first shoot versus a little less than shoulder length in 1959. In the earlier shoot, she often wears her hair up in a braided bun in the back; whereas in the 1959 shoot, she wears it gathered at the back or down (sometimes with a ribbon in it as in the bedroom scene in her apartment).
     Another major change in her appearance between the two versions is in the size and shape of her eyebrows. In the early shoot, they are thick and natural in shape; in the scripted version, they are much thinner and more finely sculpted. Goldoni also looks markedly thinner in 1959 than she does in 1957, having lost most of her baby fat in the two years between the shoots.
     She also wears different dresses and coats in the two shoots. Her mother was an excellent seamstress and made most of her clothing, which is why it is quite fancy in appearance.
     Goldoni later appears in two other Cassavetes' productions: episodes of Johnny Staccato and The Lloyd Bridges Show.
TA Tom Allen wears the same dark crew-neck sweater over a white shirt with the collar out in each of the three scenes in which he appears in the reshoot (although he has a coat over his shirt and sweater in the "I got the money!" scene). During the 1957 shoot his most frequent outfit is a white T-shirt, dark colored shirt, and sport coat with a striped pattern to the fabric. The two sets of clothing are absolute markers of the two shoots.
     Tom's hair is also slightly different in the two shoots. In 1957 it is slightly longer on top, unparted, and trimmed with clippers on the sides. (All three boys' hair is freshly cut in the early scene with the three girls, the scene leading up to the fight, and the fight scene, because Cassavetes gave them money to get haircuts immediately before these scenes were shot.) In 1959, his hair is slightly shorter on top (his pompadour does not extend out as far in front), slightly longer on the sides (not trimmed with a clipper but combed in position), and has a combed part on the right side.
     Tom's complexion is also ruddier and rougher in many scenes in the first shoot than the second.
TR During the 1957 shoot Tony Ray’s hair was longer and thicker on top and less receded along the temples and sides than in the 1959 shoot. His face looks younger and his body thinner in 1957 than 1959. In the 1959 outdoor scenes, his topcoat is also much heavier and better tailored, and his scarf is more carefully folded and placed around his neck than in the 1957 shoot.
In his Movie Journal, entry of January 27, 1960 (New York: Collier Books, 1972 p. 11), Jonas Mekas mentions that the rock-and-roll party did not begin the first version. Since this scene was definitely filmed in 1957 and included in the first version (based on Ben’s hair, sweater, and drums – and the fact that all unused footage was destroyed after the 1958 edit was assembled), it is almost certain that in the first version it followed Ben’s fight with Hugh. Ben fought Hugh, left the apartment, walked the streets, went down into a basement club self-pityingly intoning "Mary had a little lamb," and cowered in a corner.

The preceding material from Key #1 represents only a brief excerpt from the lengthy discussion of the two versions of John Cassavetes' Shadows that is available in Ray Carney's published writing.

The above material represents the first ten notes that appear in Key #1 of the table. In its complete form, Key #1 has a total of 42 notes discriminating the two versions of Shadows. All of Keys #1 and #2, as well as much other additional material about Shadows, is available by following the link at the bottom of this page. A brief excerpt from Key #2 follows.

Key #2: Critical observations and miscellaneous points


In the 1958 edit, this scene did not appear in the credits sequence but followed the "Mary had a little lamb" scene (at 58:28) where Ben goes down into the basement club. The move made Ben’s character seem less narcissistic. In the scene’s original position following Ben’s fight with Jackie and Hugh, his cowering played as being petulant and self-absorbed. By being moved into the credits sequence, his actions are less narrowly defined. A viewer may be puzzled as to why he behaves this way, but does not judge him adversely.
     Cassavetes is briefly visible from behind, dancing and nuzzling a girl during the appearance of the musical credit for "Beautiful." Seymour Cassel is briefly visible in several shots, drinking beer and looking directly into the camera.
     This scene is an illustration of the impressionistic quality of many of the scenes in the 1958 print. Its montage effect would be much more striking if the scene did not run underneath the credits but occurred in its original position in the middle of the film. See item "27" for more on this aspect of the film.


Lelia Goldoni told me that Ben was not a trumpeter but a drummer in the first version. That is the reason he is carrying bongos in the first scene and has drum sticks in his back pocket in the last. She reported that Carruthers chose the instrument himself since he had fantasies of being a drummer, although he never learned to play. As he so often did, Cassavetes based the character on the actor’s real-life personality. Cassavetes may have changed his instrument in the second version in order to be able to have him finger a trumpet in the bedroom scene.
     There is an inconsistency in the first version footage, however. Although Ben carries drums or sticks in the scenes I cited, in the 1957 bar scene with the three girls and three boys, he tells Nancy he plays the trumpet. Although the line may have been looped in 1959, it doesn’t appear to have been.


Pir Marini is the pianist in the rehearsal hall, nightclub, and rock-and-roll party. See note "4."


Some of the actors who played minor roles played more than one part. The two actresses in the "happiness boys" scene late in the film, Carol Stern (a brunette) and Carrie Radison (a strawberry blonde), are also in the nightclub chorus line (the first and fifth girls in the line), and Carrie Radison is also a bar patron in the early pickup scene. Also see note "3."
     Several crew members doubled as actors and vice-versa. Jay Crecco did sound; Ronald Maccone and Cliff Carnell worked as grips. (Carnell later appeared in Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence.) All three are in the final argument and fight scenes. Bob Reeh built sets and played the cabby. Seymour Cassel worked as a grip and appeared in the "I got the money!" scene. (See note "12.") Jack Ackerman wrote two of the film's songs in addition to acting (and collaborated with Cassavetes on many other subsequent projects). Maurice McEndree built sets, edited, and produced the film, and appears in the Central Park scene. (He subsequently worked with Cassavetes as a jack-of-all-trades on Faces as well.) For other examples of actors or crew members doing double duty, see notes "1," "23," and "38."


The same piece of rock-and-roll music is associated with both of Ben’s lonely movements around the edges of club life in the rock-and-roll party and the "Mary had a little lamb" scene.


Musical repetition was forced on Cassavetes by the limited amount of material he had to work with. (See items "l" and "19.") However, the recyclings created an interesting artistic effect. The repetitions in the scoring create a kind of tone-poem in which particular musical phrases are associated with particular characters and events. See notes "5," "11," "24," "50," "55," 63," and "67."


Cassavetes was extremely jealous and rivalrous in romantic affairs and, in general, fiercely competitive with other men in every imaginable way. (See the second paragraph of note "18.") Much of the first version of the film focused on situations involving male competition or rivalry: Ben's struggle with Hugh; Tony's stealing of David's girl; Ben's with Tony; Hugh's with Rupert; Ben, Tom, and Dennis's fight with the three boys they meet. Although it is still present, the re-shoot moves away from this issue. (Many of Cassavetes' subsequent films, from Too Late Blues and Faces to A Woman Under the Influence and Opening Night will include scenes of sexual rivalry in which more than one man competes for the attention or affection of a woman.)


Note the mismatch in Ben’s clothing in shots within these sequences from the 1957 shoot. Note also that some of the shots were taken from indoors through a plate glass window using a telephoto lens looking out onto the street, so that the passers-by in the extreme foreground do not notice the camera.


One of the hazards of placing the camera in an environment with non-actors is that bystanders look into the camera or at the actors. It is the reason Cassavetes concealed the camera from view as much as possible (by photographing through a storefront window) or placed it at a distance from the actors (as in the telephoto shots of Lelia and Tony on the sidewalk or by shooting Hugh running through Grand Central from a position high up on the grand stairway).


Cassavetes employs a number of heavy-handed metaphoric devices in the film e.g. the symbolic "mask" references (see note "48") and the use of background objects to comment on foreground events or to expand a scene’s importance: e.g. the use of the movie or play titles behind characters in the Most Happy Fella, Girls, Inc., Top Secret Affair, and A Night to Remember scenes. These "arty" effects are among the weakest and most self-conscious aspects of the film. Cassavetes’ subsequent films are occasionally marred by similar strained attempts to be "artistic." See note "27" for a more general discussion of this issue.


Mingus’s bass (alone or with drums, clarinet, and/or tambourine in the background) is associated with the wandering of Ben and his buddies.


Seymour Cassel is the figure in the light-colored jacket who comes up to the boys and is punched. He was a close personal friend of Cassavetes' who would act in many of his later films and in this instance was rewarded for his friendship by being given credit as Shadows' associate producer (though he did very little actual work in this capacity).


When he shot the new footage, Cassavetes intended the "I got the money!" and subsequent pickup scene immediately to follow the scene in which Ben borrows money from Hugh in the rehearsal hall, which was itself intended to appear earlier (as it was in the 1958 edit). During the 1959 editing process, Cassavetes changed the order of the scenes, putting the rehearsal hall scene later and the "I got the money!" and pickup scenes prior to it. The change was an important one. If he had adhered to his original intention, the effect would have been completely different. We would have seen Ben mooch money off his brother, gleefully celebrate the fact with his three friends on the street, and proceed on to engage in an evening of drinking and skirt-chasing. The sequence would have established Ben's irresponsibility and frivolousness with Hugh's hard-earned money. In contrast, in its current position before the rehearsal hall scene, since viewers do not draw any conclusions about how Ben obtained the money, his carousing is read less moralistically. His euphoria plays not as financial irresponsibility, but as an expression of boyish high-spirits. The change is an illustration of Cassavetes' desire to allow a degree of sympathy with his character.

The above material represents the first thirteen notes that appear in Key #2 of the table, which in its complete form has a total of 84 notes with critical observations about Shadows. All of Keys #1 and #2, as well as much other additional material about the film, is available by following the link at the bottom of this page.

To learn how to acquire more information about Shadows, look for five different sets of material: Ray Carney’s Cassavetes on Cassavetes (Faber and Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) which contains an extensive production history for the film; his book on the making of Shadows (British Film Institute "Film Classics"/University of California Press); the booklet titled A Detective Story – Going Inside the Heart and Mind of the Artist : A Study of Cassavetes’ Revisionary Process in the Two Versions of Shadows, which contains a complete version of the table and notes above (which appears in an abridged version, less than half its actual length, in the BFI book); and the critical discussions of Shadows in Ray Carney’s The Films of John Cassavetes: Pragmatism, Modernism, and the Movies (New York and London: Cambridge University Press) and John Cassavetes: The Adventure of Insecurity (Boston: Company C Publishing).

Note that these books and booklets do not merely repeat each other. Each contains significantly different material and insights about the film and its production history. The third item (A Detective Story.....) contains the most complete information about the two versions of the film as well as the complete texts of Keys #1 and #2, which are not included above. The table that appears as an Appendix to the BFI book is an edited, shortened version of the text in this booklet, which lacks many of the points in the complete version. It also contains other previously unpublished material about the film. Click here to learn how to obtain any of this material as well as other writing by Ray Carney about Cassavetes and Shadows.

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