USA1971-1980ArthouseDocumentaryJohn Cassavetes

John Cassavetes – Cassavetes Gazzara Rowlands 1978 Interview (1978)

This is a raw-footage version of a group interview for some unspecified TV station at a restaurant from 1978 with Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassell and Paul Stewart on the occasion of Opening Night being released. It starts out with some general career-spanning questions to Cassavetes and then eventually gets into Opening Night with Cassavetes exhorting people to go see it in his own inimitable way. Mostly we hear from Cassavetes, Rowlands, Gazzara and Paul Stewart, with just a few reactions from Seymour Cassell who is sitting by listening and smoking.

The audio is a bit ‘hot’ which is how it is on the copy-of-a-copy VHS I was privileged enough to get my hands on. It also notably has a ‘watermark’ text of “MacDonald CASSAVETES” across the screen, presumably this tape was the property at one point of a Mr. Macdonald. However, you can still make out most of the important facial features and expressions on the speakers. Around the 30 minute mark there’s a brief section where it seems they rolled film but no audio, so you just see Cassavetes talking without hearing him for about 20 seconds. It also ends by cutting out in the middle of an anecdote by Mr. Stewart about being directed by Cassavetes on A Child is Waiting, as it appears the film reel runs out and does not resume (presumably the press or whoever originally shot this felt they ‘had enough’ and didn’t need all of Mr. Stewart’s story). I am making it available simply out of a desire for the history of Cassavetes the man and the artist to come out in his own mostly unmediated (except by him!) words. In the face of so much smoke being blown his way, I think its important to see the man in all his unedited glory, warts and all. This interview I think shows much of what he was capable of – generosity, anger, insight, competitiveness, sweetness, combativeness, showmanship, maturity, and immaturity. Its simply a fascinating historical document for anyone interested in his work.


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