I’m just curious if anyone knows which films were John Cassavetes’ favorites. The only real precursor of his work I can think of is the 1953 Little Fugitive because of its immediate style, and none of his contemporaries were similar to him, except maybe Peter Bogdanovich when he made Saint Jack. What films did Cassavetes love and admire, either as influences or contemporary works?
Well, Cassavetes’ favorite filmmaker was Frank Capra so his influences are not so direct.
Capra was his favorite filmmaker.
Edit: Ari beat me to it.
I’d say his work at the actors studio as well as his experiences in early tv were also huge.
I always thought that factoid was a bit odd. I recall in Cassavetes on Cassavetes it mentions something along the lines that it was because he liked the idealism in Capra films (which also explains why he didn’t like a lot of European modernist films) but I’m not sure that helps to understand it since hopeful optimism isn’t exactly the strongest current in his films (which certainly aren’t Capra-esque). Do you know, Jerry?
He was a man of fine taste.
Ari, I actually think Cassavetes is a very idealistic filmmaker. Contrast him to Italian Neorealism, which is the oft-cited precursor to Cassavetes work. With Rossellini, you always know the exact time and locale that he’s filming in, and the setting takes priority. Rossellini films the world as he finds it (or if set in the past, the world as he finds it in art and history).
Now with Cassavetes, does the setting really matter (outside of Shadows, of course)? Does it matter that Chinese Bookie is set in LA and that a Woman Under the Influence is set some in some small town who’s location I can’t even recall? Would what matters in these two films change if the settings were reversed? Cassavetes doesn’t film the world as he finds it- he films the world as he thinks it should be represented on film. This makes him an idealist. Just like Capra. Except that Capra’s subject was sociopolitical and Cassavetes’ subject was personal.
I wonder what he would have thought of his spiritual successors, people like Noah Baumbach and all the mumblecore guys. They are similar in their goal of authentically capturing real life, but have some tonal differences.
They are similar in their goal of authentically capturing real life,
But my point was, where is the authenticity and “real life” in a Cassavetes film? Is the way Gazzara talks to his strippers authentic? I really don’t know- I’ve never been privy to a conversation between a titty bar owner and his strippers. And while I’ve been to plenty of titty bars, I’ve never seen a show as amazing as the one Gazzara orchestrates.
I think that Cassavetes is more about capturing an internal world than an external world. When I watched Chinese Bookie, I was much more interested in Gazzara’s frame of mind, what he might have been thinking, than whether the settings were realistic or not. This movie took place during Cassavetes’ time on earth, well and so what? I agree with Jerry in this sense, but if he was capturing realism it was in terms of emotional experience, and internal reality, than the documentation to the “T” of the characters’ surroundings.
Thank God too, because I hate those films that try to get all the superficial details right (i.e. historically based films that go over the top with “authenticity”), and it’s obvious that that was very important to the filmmaker. Boring.
Yeah, I suppose by authenticity I mean more the way he embraces the messiness of life and people and emotions
Isn’t A Woman Under the Influence filmed in LA?
Yeah and so was Mean Streets.
In Michael Ventura’s exceptional book Cassavets Directs (on the making of Love Streams), Ventura writes that Cassavetes mentioned being very impressed with Altman’s “Images” (when he caught it on TV) and also the Josef Von Sternberg films with Dietrich.
I don’t like Capra much, so this is kind of surprising to hear.
Well, I guess that explains why Carney likes Capra so much. Honestly, the guy seems more and more like a literary-minded stalker than a critic all the time.
Greg: I recommend you actually read his Capra book, rather than just forming an opinion.
C’mon Fraser, I’m just teasing, or sort of teasing anyway. Carney’s complete devotion to Cassavetes is a bit unsettling.
Oh, and by the way, I just noticed your reply to me in the Carney thread so I’ll be getting back to you there as soon as I get some work done.
Excellent, I thought that thread was gone again. :)
Seriously though, I’m telling everyone here to read American Vision: The Films of Frank Capra. But of course, I would say that. ;D
You didn’t actually think I’d let the statement you made go unanswered did you? My Wellesian nature simply wouldn’t allow for such a thing…
Since I like Capra, well, off and on anyway, myself, I would be happy to read that book if I can get my hands on it for not much money, since I’m a poor s.o.b.. I just watched Capra’s late film A Hole in the Head the other day and found it pretty interesting. Definitely the most Cassavetesque of Capra’s films.
I know, like most of you, that Capra was Cassavetes favorite filmmaker because of the depth of humanity in Capra’s work. Cassavetes always loved an underdog and that’s what Capra was concerned with. I also read that Cassavete’s really enjoyed ORDINARY PEOPLE by Robert Redford. He even went as far as to say that “Redford got it right” in reference to why people didn’t respond to Cassavetes work in terms of his take on humanity and human emotion.
I really would like to know more about the films and filmmakers that Cassavetes loved and was influenced by if anyone knows or has some information.
A Woman Under the Influence is not set some in some small town, it is clearly set in L.A. There is a scene where Gena Rowlands meets her kids at the school bus stop on a major Hollywood boulevard.
A Woman Under The Influence, Minnie and Moskowitz both take place in LA. It’s pretty obvious, especially in the strips and the housing structures (total CA suburb look)
In Cassavetes on Cassavetes he says Carl Dreyer was the second greatest filmmaker, next to Capra.
he loves the films of James Cagney too
A Woman under the Influence and Gloria are my Cassavete’s favorites films
“To tell the truth as you see it incidentally is not necessarily the truth. To tell the truth as someone else sees it is to me much more important and enlightening. Some documentaries are fantastic. Like Lionel Rogosin’s pictures, for instance; like “On The Bowery”. This guy—who’s probably the greatest documentary filmmaker of all time, in my opinion—he doesn’t care about what anyone thinks, the Cahiers du Cinema crowd, the underground, or anyone else.” — John Cassavetes