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Shadows (The John Cassavetes Collection) (DVD & Blu-ray) [1959]


Price: £11.11 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Ben Carruthers, Lelia Goldoni, Hugh Hurd, Anthony Ray
  • Directors: John Cassavetes
  • Format: PAL
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 23 April 2012
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007A0FWWY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,703 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

The John Cassavetes Collection

SHADOWS (DVD and Blu-ray)
A film by John Cassavetes

Set amongst the lively milieu of artists and jazz musicians in bohemian 1950s New York, John Cassavetes' directorial debut follows the doomed relationship between a young mixed-race woman Lelia (Lelia Goldoni) and Tony (Anthomy Ray), a white man who betrays his prejudice when he meets Lelia's brother, a struggling jazz singer.

Shot on location with a cast and crew largely made up of amateurs and featuring a swinging, improvised score by Charles Mingus and Shafi Hadi, Shadows gave birth to a radical new film language grounded in authenticity, and is widely considered the first truly independent American film.

Special Features

  • Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Audio commentary with Cassavetes collaborator Seymour Cassel and film critic Tom Charity
  • Falk on Cassavetes: the early years (DVD only, 13 mins)
  • 16mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane's acting workshop (DVD only, 4 mins)
  • Theatrical trailer (DVD only, 4 mins)
  • Fully illustrated booklet featuring new essays and notes from Michael Atkinson, Brian Morton and Tom Charity

US | 1959 | black & white | English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 82 minutes | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1

Disc 1: BD25 | 1080p | 24fps | PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 | PAL | Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps)

Region 2 PAL DVD
Region B Blu-ray

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ace on 18 May 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
If you are interested in how films are constructed and can come together as a process rather then a perceived finished product , then you need to watch this film .
Filmaking at its raw best , amazing shots of New york , great story , totally current todays enviroment , a must watch.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Moley Mystic on 9 Oct 2009
Format: DVD
Here in Amsterdam there is a series of films by John Cassavetes being shown at the Film Museum. however the oldest and first film he made was Shadows which has not beemn included in the event and so a DVD was a suitable alternative.

The film itself has been restored as much as possible and of course being in black and white and with smoking folk all over the place now seems rather out of date, a marvellous opportunity to see how Hollywood and all its clichés were turned on their heads by this amazing rebel and inspirator.

My order arrived promptly, well packed and was a delight to view.

Moley Mystic
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By a customer on 15 Dec 2011
Format: DVD
WITHOUT A DOUBT A SEMINAL FILM THAT EVERYONE SHOULD SEE. DIRECTED BY THE GENIUS OF JOHN CASSAVETTES. GRAB IT WHILE YOU CAN AS COPIES GET IN SHORT SUPPLY!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
AWEsome Film 3 Feb 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a great movie. Like it was made yeserday. Punk, beat in sensibility. About young people struggling on the fringes.
Also the review that follows mine is right. A guy named Ray Carney just wrote an amazing book about the movie that has incredible behind the scenes details that no one ever knew before. Cassavetes revealed them to Carney before he died in a Rosebud conversation. Check out the book titled Shadows and another titled Cassavetes on Cassavetes along with the film. It's available here if you type in Cassavetes' name under books. Also Carney has a web site that you should check out with lots of other Cassavetes material.
I love this movie! And the books about it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Director Cassavetes in Top Form 18 Aug 2001
By Ibochild - Published on Amazon.com
In constrast to the sanitized images of 1950s television and motion pictures, SHADOWS is like a breath of fresh air. It's independent filmmaking at its best. You'll find no silly "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" plots here. Instead, you have characters that respond and speak like regular people. This is in large part because Cassavetes allowed the actors to improvise their dialog. This is particularly true for the black characters in the film, because they aren't constrained by an outsider's view of them.
There are several stories in the film, but perhaps the most interesting is that of Lelia (played by Lelia Goldoni). Living in a Manhattan apartment with her two brothers, she's somewhat naive of the world. At a party she meets Tony and they soon hit it off. Just as quickly, things start to sour between them. If it already isn't bad enough, all hell breaks loose, when Tony is unable to conceal his shock when he discovers that the olive complexioned Lelia is actually black.
In a Hollywood film, this scenario would have been thrown under the rug or handled in a stiff and artificial manner (like ISLAND IN THE SUN). Fortunately, we get a much more interesting and realistic view of the situation. Granted some of the dialog might be a bit on the nose at times, but when the improv works, it works fabulously.
One of the best scenes in the film involves Lelia on a date. Without revealing too much, her dialog is a killer. John Sayles couldn't have written it any crisper.
As the whole, the cast is very good. All of the major players have the same first names as their respective characters. Rupert Crosse (who later received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Reivers) is very funny in this film. Hugh Hurd (father of Michelle Hurd on Showtime's "Leap Years") is very believable as a frustrated vocalist who is also the caring older brother of Lelia. Also look out for Lynn Hamilton (perhaps best known for her recurring role on "Sanford & Son") in a small role.
The film is raw, but like sushi there is much to savour here. Just sit back, relax and pop this movie into your machine. A little patience will go a long way with this gem. Check it out.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Good start 17 Sep 2008
By Cosmoetica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
In many ways, the filmic career of independent filmmaking legend John Cassavetes is the polar opposite of someone like Alfred Hitchcock, the consummate studio director. Where Hitchcock infamously treated his actors as cattle, Cassavetes sought to work with them improvisationally. Where every element in a Hitchcock shot is composed immaculately, Cassavetes cared less for the way a scene was figuratively composed than in how it felt, or what it conveyed, emotionally. Hitchcock's tales were always plot-first narratives, with the human element put in the background. Cassavetes put the human experience forefront in every one of his films. If some things did not make much sense logically, so be it.
One can see this even from his very first film, 1959's Shadows, filmed with a 16mm handheld camera, on a shoe string budget of about $40,000, in Manhattan, with Cassavetes' acting workshop repertory company, and touted as an improvisatory film. The story is rather simple, as it follows the lives of three black sibling Manhattanites- Benny (Ben Carruthers)- a trumpeter and no account, Hugh (Hugh Hurd)- a washed up singer, and Lelia (Lelia Goldoni)- the younger sister of both. The film's three main arcs deal with Hugh's failures as a nightclub crooner, and his friendship with his manager Rupert (Rupert Crosse); Benny's perambulations in an about Manhattan with his two no account pals; and Lelia's lovelife- first with a white boy Tony (Anthony Ray), who does not realize light-skinned Lelia's race, even after bedding her; then with stiff and proper Davey (Davey Jones), who may be a misogynist.
In the first arc, nothing much happens, except dark-skinned Hugh gets to pontificate on how degraded he feels to be singing in low class nightclubs, and opening shows for girly acts. He dreams of making it big in New York, or even Paris, but one can tell he is the type of man who will continue deluding himself of his meager skill, for the one time we actually get to hear him sing, he shows he's a marginal talent, at best. That Rupert keeps encouraging him gives us glimpses into how destructive friendships work. But, this is the least important of the three arcs.... While this film is better overall than, say, Martin Scorsese's first film, a decade later, Who's That Knocking At My Door?- another tale of failed romance and frustrated New Yorkers, it has none of the brilliant moments- acting-wise nor cinematographically- that that film has. It also is not naturalistic, for naturalism in art is a very difficult thing to achieve, especially in film, although the 1950s era Manhattan exteriors, at ground level, is a gem to relive. While Shadows may, indeed, be an important film in regards to the history of the independent film circuit, it certainly is nowhere near a great film. Parts of it are preachy, poorly acted, scenes end willy-nilly, almost like blackout sketches, and sometimes are cut off seemingly in the middle. All in all it's a very sloppy job- especially the atrocious jazz score that is often out of synch with the rest of the film, as Cassavetes proved that as a director, at least in his first film, he was a good actor. The only reason for anyone to see Shadows is because Cassavetes ultimately got better with later films, and this gives a clue as to his later working style.
The National Film Registry has rightly declared this film worthy of preservation as `culturally significant'. This is all in keeping with the credo of art Cassavetes long championed, as typified by this quote: `I've never seen an exploding helicopter. I've never seen anybody go and blow somebody's head off. So why should I make films about them? But I have seen people destroy themselves in the smallest way. I've seen people withdraw. I've seen people hide behind political ideas, behind dope, behind the sexual revolution, behind fascism, behind hypocrisy, and I've myself done all these things. So I can understand them. What we are saying is so gentle. It's gentleness. We have problems, terrible problems, but our problems are human problems.' That this film is `culturally significant' is true, but that truth is not synonymous with its being `artistically significant'. It is in the difference between these two definitions where great art truly thrives.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Cassavetes' debut film 28 Feb 2000
By Martin Doudoroff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
"Shadows" possesses a special place for many would-be film historians as the film that launched "independent film". If nothing else, it launched one of the most chronically misunderstood -- but utterly essential -- series of American film. Lots of small things happen in "Shadows" despite its short running length: this is due in part to the fact that the film combines half its material from an earlier film of "improvisation" with a collection of more scripted scenes shot two years later with the same cast. What's stunning about the completed film is how GORGEOUSLY it presents human behavior in all its fascinating, modern messiness. Cassavetes was perhaps the first filmmaker to deliberately -- and successfully -- attempt the feat, which he subsequently honed as a skill in his future masterpieces.
Like the others in this Pioneer series, the DVD is merely adequate: it presents the picture and sound. As in the others, Ray Carney provides a short analytic essay in the insert that is useful to anyone not already familiar with Cassavetes' art. We're lucky to have this film available in any form. Highly recommended.
[Incidentally, whatever other Amazon reviewer it was that thinks they found a racist agenda to this film completely missed the boat. However, racism is faced by the characters and plays an overt role in the narrative, and significantly, comprises much of the oldest material in the film. The original project was for an unrealized film ABOUT racism; the material added later was not, and the complexities of the resulting combination make the film what it is.]
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
FILM GOGGLES 21 Dec 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This intense, hysterical, loud, sweet and sour film was NOT an IMPROVISATION despite the end title! Neither were Cassavetes other films, in the classic sense of IMPROV. Improv was sparringly used in the writing of the scripts, but Cassavetes was a WRITER who knew what he was doing more than people give him credit for. This is a major crime against one of the greatest artists of the last 100 years (wha? no, seriously). To get the real scoop, and an exhaustive, loving take on this important first film by an American original, check out the BFI Film Series edition on SHADOWS, which just came out. It breaks it down and builds it back up, in a way you won't believe.
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