(PG, 1:21:50, Released 1959)
|Genres:||Drama, Romance, Classics|
|Release Date:||Jan 1, 1959|
|DVD Release Date:||Apr 7, 1998|
|Starring:||Lelia Goldoni, Ben Carruthers, Anthony Ray, Hugh Hurd, Rupert Crosse, Tom Allen, Dennis Sallas, Jack Ackerman, Cliff Carnell, Marilyn Clark|
|Directed by:||John Cassavetes|
|Synopsis:||Shadows was John Cassavetes' first directorial effort. Like his later critically acclaimed films Faces and Husbands, Cassavetes fills the screen with probing, unflattering closeups. Unlike his other films, however, Shadows zips along at 87 minutes, avoiding the pitfall of putting the director's nonfans to sleep. The film is a straightforward account of a biracial romance (a far less common film subject in 1960 than today). Light-skinned African-American Lelia Goldoni falls in love with a white man Anthony Ray, who spurns her when he meets the rest of her family. Far from subtle, Shadows benefits from the undisciplined energy of its direction and the excellence of its individual performances. Costing a scant $40,000 (less than the average half hour TV episode of the era), Shadows won the Critic's Award at the Cannes Film Festival and led to more expensive studio assignments for John Cassavetes. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi|
|Full movie details|
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Other Top Reviews
April 6, 2012
A new-waveish beatnik sociopolitical commentary that gets far less recognition than it deserves.
November 21, 2010
This is a pretty good, and very different, drama movie, but it's not all that exciting or intense. Plus, I wasn't familiar or impressed with any of the actors.
May 11, 2010
Classic American cinema, way ahead of the rest with an important message to boot. Not only was the subject matter original in film but so was the production. Essential viewing for film fans and especially film makers. It has to be one of the coolest films ever made!
October 12, 2009
According to the information that can be found on the box, a very important and influential movie and Cassavetes directorial debut.
It's VERY difficult to rate this one objectively after seeing A Woman Under the Influence first, which is a completely different movie. Somehow the style reminded me a little of A Funeral Parade of Roses.
Couldn't keep my eyes off of Lelia Goldoni, she's beautiful.
April 13, 2009
Cassavetes' debut: A close examination of daily life. People wanting to find something to do, striving to understand their moods, shortcomings, and the possibilities and impossibilities of the New York Universe they inhabit. Coming to terms with race and racism. Falling in, out of love. Trying to find stability. All in the course of 81 minutes. Shadows is a film about nothing: the chain of events that take place every day and we hate because they bore us, which we call nothing. And it is maybe the Mother of all films about nothing created afterwards, none of which seem to really be on par with it. Cassavetes, like Truffaut, tells a small story where every story we know can fit, too. Lelia, Benny, Rupert, Tony, Hugh... terrific actors, all of them. I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been to work in such compenetration with the material, in a way that performances this earnest and solid materialized, especially considering Cassavete's pro-improvisation attitude. Although I've read here and there that the improv was not absolute, the intelligence of the actors is obvious. This film left me with several enduring cinematic moments in my mind. Benny coyly speaking to a girl in a diner, one of the most successfully intimate takes I can remember. Lelia's iconic weary face in Tony's bed. The jazz score, so appropriate with the Beat scene, beautiful but not invasive. And the gritty black and white photography. Shadows is not so concerned with aesthetics as it is with exposing and exploring ideas and opinions and notions of filmmaking that were perhaps being underappreciated, forsaken, or rejected at the time. Besides being a realistic portrait of human emotions and situations, it is also a landmark of independent American cinema and testament to Cassavetes' original often-imitated approach to filmmaking. It's refreshing to think of his closeness with performers. Adequate communication and communion between all the elements of the film flow through it from beginning to end. Watching it feels like witnessing something truly one of a kind.
January 25, 2008
There are perfect moments in this movie.
November 10, 2006
This entire movie was improvised. It is an undisputed masterpiece.
fb1142797643November 16, 2011
Everyone knows "Shadows" is a historically important film, but it's also interesting on its own terms. The loose plot takes place within the late-'50s clique of New York jazz cats. Period lingo is kept to a minimum (save some talk of "making the scene"), so the dialogue doesn't age as badly as one might expect.
A white man picks up a beautiful young woman, but later discovers she's a fair-skinned black. The meat of the story is the racial tension between the surprised man and the woman's wary brothers, but the conflict is pushed aside rather than building to a strong conclusion. Otherwise, the sequences mostly dwell on cynical hipsters cavorting in clubs and apartments while making aggressive plays for whatever tawdry babe is within reach. The closing credits boast that the film was an improvisation, and some awkward cuts and blackouts do suggest off-the-cuff spontaneity that was structured afterwards in the editing room. The acting is amateurish, though not offensively so.
Director John Cassavetes briefly appears as a ruffian in one early crowd scene.
fb208103125January 22, 2014
A film made using improvisation performances from it's talented cast, Shadows was the first film by director John Cassavetes and was made with a meager budget of $40,000. The film obviously focuses fully on the story and issues at hand and the brief 82 minute runtime flies by as the film keeps going full steam ahead. A great drama piece exploring the, rare at the time, issue with interracial relationships and is a genuine and realistic approach to the ideals explored.
November 20, 2011
Great experimental picture by John Cassavetes. A tad creeky but you can't help but admire the performances, the setting, and the themes. It's a nice little movie.
June 11, 2009
To me, this film is about three "hip" kids who are so used to running away and fighting, rather than trying to deal with problems. The theme of three lost kids really hits home for me, especially since Baton Rouge seems to have its fill of hipster kids who just have no clue about what the fuck they want. So, it's themes are still as loud and meaningful today.
The film also features some great shots, but my favorite character was Tom. I loved the scene where he balked at the two guys at the museum. His monologue there pretty much describes what the film is about.
A nice film that sticks with you long after you've viewed it.
April 4, 2008
Cassavetes first film and my first Cassavetes. Shadows is the story of three black siblings living in 1950s New York. Two of the siblings (Ben and Lelia)are light skinned and can pass of as white.
Shadows is important for a number of reasons. At the end of the film we are told that "The film you have just seen was an improvisation". Ironically though, it's now been revealed that it wasn't all improvisation (such as the bedroom scene). I think it was Lelia Goldoni who said "the script wasn't improvised, the emotions were".
Also this film is one of the founders of Independent cinema.
Overall a brilliant and important film.
December 11, 2007
Nice improvisational first film by one the godfathers of American independent cinema.
February 22, 2013
John Cassavetes directorial debut is a 50s beatnik independent feature that can arguably be the Godfather of all independent features. It is fairly risque for it's day, depicting premarital sex, interracial relationships, and lots of subjects that may not seem to risky nowadays, but were very taboo at the time. I think the film is quite well made, particularly for a first time director working with amateurs and a low budget.
June 19, 2010
This movie was not improvised, in 1957 Cassavetes filmed a version of this movie that WAS improvised, hated what he filmed and redid it in 1959 (with scripted dialogue). Look it up. In this sense, you can call every movie ever made "improvised".
November 30, 2008
Impressive for a debut. I appreciate the gritty look, imperfect editing (you notice the change in splice), the jazz score, and the improvisation (noted at the end of the movie, explains the "natural", disjointed acting).
May 31, 2007
The American equivalent to À bout de souffle. While the story isn't really engaging, the gritty style employed by Cassavetes is unique in American cinema during that time. The story revolves around three African American siblings who struggle to earn a living, find love, and pursue their dreams. Cassavetes tackles controversial themes like interracial relationships. As someone who lives in New York most of time, it's really interesting to see what the city was like back in the end of the 50's. Aside from the cars and fashion, the streets, Central Park, and Broadway is pretty much the same as today.
Oh, I saved the most visionary part of film for last: the entire film was improvised.
February 28, 2007
Shadows is John Cassavetes' first film. Set in the Beat-Era 1950 it is packed with raw emotion. Shot on 16mm it is the first great US independent film.