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John Cassavetes has been called a genius, a visionary, and the father of independent film. But such rhetoric threatens to obscure the humanism and generosity of his art. The five films included here represent his self-financed works made outside the studio system of Hollywood, on which he was afforded complete control. Populated by beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, and children, the films are beautiful, emotional testaments to compassion. Cassavetes has often been called an actor’s director, but this body of work—even greater than the sum of its extraordinarily significant parts—reveals him to be an audience’s director. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night in stunning new transfers, as well as Charles Kiselyak’s 2000 documentary A Constant Forge—The Life and Art of John Cassavetes.


John Cassavetes’ directorial debut revolves around an interracial romance between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light-skinned black woman living in New York City with her two brothers, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. Shadows is a visionary work and the forerunner of the independent film movement.


The disintegration of a marriage is dissected in John Cassavetes’ searing Faces. Shot in high-contrast 16 mm black and white, the film follows the futile attempts of a captain of industry (John Marley) and his wife (Lynn Carlin) to escape the anguish of their empty marriage in the arms of others.

A Woman Under the Influence

John Cassavetes’ devastating drama details the emotional breakdown of a suburban housewife and her family’s struggle to save her from herself. This is one of the benchmark films of American independent cinema—a heroic document from a true maverick director.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

John Cassavetes engages film noir in his own inimitable style. Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays gentlemen’s club owner Cosmo Vitelli, a man dedicated to pretenses of composure and self-possession. When he runs afoul of a group of gangsters, Cosmo is forced to commit a horrible crime.

Opening Night

In John Cassavetes’ Opening Night, Broadway actress Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) rehearses for her latest play, about a woman unable to admit that she is aging. When she witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, she begins to confront the turmoil she faces in her own life.

A Constant Forge

Charles Kiselyak’s A Constant Forge—The Life and Art of John Cassavetes is a detailed journey through the career of one of film’s greatest pioneers and iconoclasts, assembled from candid interviews with Cassavetes’ collaborators and friends, rare photographs, and archival footage.

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Special Features

New high-definition digital transfers of all films, with restored image and sound, and, where applicable, enhanced for widescreen televisions
More than two hours of new video interviews with Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Lelia Goldoni, Gena Rowlands, and Al Ruban
Two versions of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: Cassavetes’ original 135-minute, on home video for the first time, as well as his subsequent 108-minute re-edit
Faces alternate opening: 17 minutes of footage not included in Cassavetes’ final cut
Cinéastes de notre temps: an episode from the French television series, dedicated to Cassavetes
Workshop footage: rare silent clips from the Cassavetes-Lane Drama Workshop, from which Shadows emerged
Audio commentary on A Woman Under the Influence by sound recordist and composer Bo Harwood and camera operator Mike Ferris
Restoration demonstration for Shadows
Audio interviews with Cassavetes by film historians Michel Ciment and Michael Wilson
Lighting and Shooting the Film: a study of the techniques and equipment used on Faces by Al Ruban
Stills galleries: rare behind-the-scenes photos, publicity shots, and posters
Biographical sketches of the actors Cassavetes frequently cast in his films, written by Tom Chartity (John Cassavetes: Lifeworks)
English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
Plus: a 68-page book featuring new essays on Cassavetes and the films by writers/critics Gary Giddins, Stuart Klawans, Kent Jones, Philip Lopate, Dennis Lim, and director Charles Kiselyak, as well as reprinted writings by and interviews with Cassavetes, and tributes to Cassavetes by director Martin Scorsese, Cassavetes’ secretary Elaine Kagan, and novelist Jonathan Lethem

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CC250 John Cassavetes: Five Films DVD (Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Opening Night) 30% Off! $124.95 $87.46