Shadows

I had a quiet day of work. One person noticed that I was wearing a Sgt. Pepper shirt, and she asked me if I was wearing it in honor of George Martin. I missed a bus and got home rather late. I caught a few minutes of Sylvester Stallone on the Tonight Show before I watched the Blu-ray of John Cassavetes’ “Shadows.” It was supposed to be completely an improvisation, but there ended up being two versions of the movie. Supposedly, the only print of the first version was left on a subway and was put in their lost and found. It went from a shop owner to an attic in Florida to the shop owner’s daughter to film professor Ray Carney in 2003. It’s hard for me to think that letting actors improvise a story could lead to a coherent story. Actors act in the moment, and a story has elements running through it from start to finish. Audience reaction to the first cut of “Shadows” was apparently so strongly negative that Cassavetes shot new footage, changing the story so that the focus was on the woman. We see a romance take a turn when the man meets the woman’s brother, seeing that he is black. The film does show a part of the sex life of the young woman that was unusual for films in 1959. I liked the scene with Hugh trying out his job, although he seemed oblivious to audience reaction and what he was supposed to do in introducing the girls. I don’t think you survive in show business if you don’t notice certain things. There were problems with the audio in this film, and I wondered where this music was coming from. I read that the original cut made use of Charles Mingus’ music. Cassavetes was supposed to be a very demanding director, making his actors go through numerous takes for some scenes. I thought that one scene that had three actors in the same shot must have been difficult, although I didn’t see why it was shot that way. I saw Dean Martin’s “Ten Thousand Bedrooms” on one theatre marquee, and later I saw a theatre playing Brigitte Bardot’s “The Night Heaven Fell. I’m guessing that this is showing the time difference in shooting the footage for the two cuts of the film. “Ten Thousand Bedrooms” was released in April 1957, and “The Night Heaven Fell” was released in October 1958. I rather liked the once scene with the men looking at the statues. There were shots of Central Park that had a lively. There was a noticeable hair on the print, which made me wonder why it couldn’t be removed during the restoration process. This film is supposed to be a milestone for American independent films, but what I will really remember it for is the appearance of Rupert Crosse. He was uncredited in Hitchcock’s “Marnie,” and he would appear in television shows like “That Girl,” “I Spy,” and “The Monkees” before making a little bit of history with his Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for “The Reivers.” He was cast in “The Last Detail” but couldn’t go through with the film because of the cancer that would end his life. He died on March 5, 1973. He was such a strong presence in “Shadows” and “The Reivers” that you remembered him for a long time. I think that perhaps the two Cassavetes films that stay in my mind are “A Woman Under the Influence” and “Love Streams.” I remember him as an actor for “The Dirty Dozen,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “Tempest.” Near the end of his life, he was trying to make the movie that would eventually become “She’s So Lovely,” which his son Nick would direct with Sean Penn as the star of the film. Cassavetes was 59 years old when he died on February 3, 1989. Some of the people who died on March 10 include Harriet Tubman (1913), Ray Milland (1986), Andy Gibb (1988), Ross Hunter (1996), LaVern Baker (1997), Lloyd Bridges (1998), and Corey Haim (2010). Today is a birthday for Sharon Stone (58) and Chuck Norris (76). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 10, Gloria Gaynor hit Number One on the singles chart with “I Will Survive” in 1979. In 1988, Andy Gibb died as a result of myocarditis just five days after he turned 30. In 1993, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop testified before a House subcommittee that there weren’t enough good television shows for children. In 1998, Lloyd Bridges died of natural causes at age 85.

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