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Opening Night [VHS]

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Product details

  • Actors: Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara, Joan Blondell, Paul Stewart
  • Directors: John Cassavetes
  • Writers: John Cassavetes
  • Producers: Al Ruban, Michael Lally, Sam Shaw
  • Language: English
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • VHS Release Date: 24 Jan 2000
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004D2ZF
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,365 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

A John Cassavetes classic, in which Gena Rowlands plays a successful actress who witnesses the accidental death of a teenage fan outside the theatre where she is performing. As time moves on, she finds herself haunted by the conviction that she is to blame for the death, and when her role in a new play begins to mirror her real life situation she begins to crack up under the strain. Cassavetes stars opposite wife Rowlands as her on/off lover.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Alcat on 28 Oct 2007
Format: DVD
"Opening night" (1977), written and directed by John Cassavetes, is a strange and emotional film that will make an impact on you. This story shows a human being during a period of deep emotional turmoil, and professional confusion.

The main character is Myrtle Gordon (played by a wonderful Gena Rowlands),a famous actress that is unable to cop with the death of a young admirer, killed in an accident near her. As if that were enough, Myrtle is afraid of really playing her part in a new play, due to the fact that she is supposed to be a woman that is getting old, something that she knows is true in real life. How does Myrtle cope with her fear of aging, and her remorse for not being there for her fan? What if she feels she is not able to act anymore? Too many questions, and answers that can be found in this film.

On the whole, I can say that I really enjoyed "Opening night". Watching this movie is not easy, but once you finish it you realize why it is worthwhile to do so...

Belen Alcat

If you can, watch "Opening night" before "All about your mother", as Almodovar's movie was partly inspired on this film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. V. L. Buliciri on 17 Aug 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Gena Rowlands (the real-life of the late John Cassavetes)is compelling and excellent to watch as a stage actress (Myrtle Gordon)at the peak of her profession who suffers a mental breakdown following the tragic and accidental death of a teenage fan.John Cassavetes the father of American independent cinema is a true genius at showing the complexties of human beings and human emotions in all of his films. In 'Opening Night,' he shows that a celebrity's life is not as charmed as everyone perceives it to be.
I felt sorry for Myrtle when I saw the film and how she broke down after the death of her teenage fan. One is sympathetic towards her as you realise her life is not that happy in spite of her fame and and achievements, she has sacrificed marriage and motherhood for her art, she has a drink problem,age is creeping up on her and for 'older,'actresses acting parts are limited and she is haunted by images of the dead teenage girl appearing before her.
Opening Night is a good film and I would recommend this film to anyone to see as an example of John Cassavetes' fine talent as a director.The film has an impressive supporting cast of actors such as Ben Gazzara, Joan Blondell and Cassavetes himself plus cameo appearances from other Cassavetes regulars such as Seymour Cassel and Peter Falk. It is one of the few films made that truly examines the emotional ups and downs of an actor's life and the pressure of life in the public eye.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By digit on 16 Dec 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Cassavetes is better than any other artist I can think of at conveying the disorientation of life and this is probably his strangest, most poetic and most thoughtful life study of all. There's a profound ambiguity in the portrayal of the traumatised Rowlands character, sympathetic, but with no easy assumption of being able to understand or agree with her. Her constant refusal to play along with the play she's rehearsing could be perversity, prima-donnaishness or artistic integrity, just as her intermingled problems with the death of her teenage fan and her own aging may be a nervous breakdown, a literal haunting or possession or a particularly rigorous and gruelling process of coming to grips with the character she's playing. Similar uncertainties pervade almost every moment of the film. 'If I had known what a boring man you were before I married you...' says Ben Gazzara's wife just before making a playful pass at him, one among many peculiarly slippery to read moments, culminating in and weirdly foreshadowing the strange, brilliant denoument in the theatre at the end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Doogster on 25 Aug 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you are a Gena Rowlands aficionado like me, you will love this movie. It's pure Gena; everyone else just sort of languishes in the background, unable to outshine Gena's radiant presence. Unlike A Woman Under The Influence (AWUTI), this movie has a humourous side to it, although often in a tragic way. The movie comes from Cassavetes' golden age (mid to late 1970s), when he could do no wrong in my eyes, although that didn't stop the movie flopping when it was released. I actually prefer this movie over AWUTI.

I'm docking it one star because the transfer is not perfect. Colour and detail are good, but there is a little bit of damage (specks, splotches, lines) every now and again. These problems could have been fixed. If you have a small TV you won't notice these problems. I'm only pointing them out because I have a projector, which tends to magnify visual problems.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Making It Through 17 April 2000
By Kelley Mills - Published on Amazon.com
First of all I am totally biased - words cannot express the respect I have for Gena Rowlands - she is my favorite actress. You can't help but be "seduced" by her - she is so lovely and has so much class. Even when the movie stinks bad she is at her utmost best. This movie confused me at first -but most Cassaveteses movies do. They frustrate and make one sweat with anger and anxiousness - and that's what makes them so good. Although it confused me it kept my attention and then I finally got it. Gena pulls you in making you sympathize with her plight while at the same time making you glad she gets what she deserves. I was a little disappointed that John had a small part - I love the way he's so cynical, distrusting, and funny at the same time. It's wonderful to see a man enjoy giving his lady the spotlight. I was new to his movies - absorbing them is an experience. How does the saying go - I was lost but now I'm found! If you're looking for entertainment that makes you think and summons your deepest emotions, well you've just hit the tip of the iceberg...
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
this movie is amazing 30 Jun 2007
By Kulotta Mav - Published on Amazon.com
so...I don't know about the dvd. I have only ever seen this as a movie on the big screen (thank you rep houses and indie cinemas!). but, if you like cassavettes films, opening night is one of his best. gena rowlands gives a mind-blowing performance as a woman dealing with and running from her fears and responsibilities. it's a gorgeous and heavy movie about how staggering it can be to come to terms with who you are and where you are in your life, vs. where you think you should be. of course, as it's a cassavettes film, it's also a lot about what you bring to it as well.

it won't please everyone(see one-star review) but it impresses the hell out of me every time I see it.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
For More Information 5 Mar 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Just a note that for anyone who wants important background information about Opening Night and how it was made, I highly recommend Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes book, which is available on [Amazon.com] at a great price. Carney has amazing behind-the-scenes information about how Cassavetes created all of his no-budget wonders completely outside the system. Carney knew Cassavetes and had a series of conversations with him before his death about his philosophy of life and art. Carney also has a terrific web site with writing on Cassavetes and other indie filmmakers. Great movie and great supporting info. Both well worth checking out.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant 'actor's film' 11 May 1999
By kjaer@post9.tele.dk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Truly outstanding film about the theater, actors and alcoholism. Only Cassavetes and Rowlands could get this kind of truth on to film - don't miss it! A huuuuuge hit here in Europe!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Opening Night a success for Gena Rowlands 9 Aug 2010
By Mary Moehle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Once again, a fine performance from Gena Rowlands. If you appreciate this actress, this is another film in which she shines. As a strong actress with an ability to find, reveal, and let us see the deep motivations that cloud our emotions, blur our intellect, and find justifications for decisions that are a little off-center, she is one of the best. "Opening Night" is a story of a popular but aging star about to open in a live-production, written by Joan Blondell, and follows her struggle to maintain her grip on life as extremely stressful events force her into more and more intense bouts of drinking. This condition worsens as the opening night approaches, and by the night of the big opening, arriving so late the production is almost cancelled, and so intoxicated she cannot stand by herself, we follow her intense struggle to "do her job". The final scenes of the movie are so tense, and so well-acted, I was tired but satisfied, that I was able to believe she had conquered her demons and would be able to overcome the problems converging on her life.
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