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Cassavetes on Cassavetes Paperback – August 15, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0571201570 ISBN-10: 0571201571 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (August 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571201571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571201570
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Cassavetes' films were quarried from his most private feelings and experiences," writes editor Ray Carney in his introduction to Cassavetes on Cassavetes, and then illustrates his point with the writings, interviews and recorded conversations of a beloved cult figure. First an actor and then a director (Faces; A Woman Under the Influence), John Cassavetes, who died in 1989, remains known for gamely trying to make his art in Hollywood, and then gamely wreaking havoc when he was overrided. Of his television series, Staccato (later called Johnny Staccato at the insistence of network executives), the director said: "It is virtually impossible to get approval on a script that has substance." Fans and film buffs will delight in this rare look inside the mind of this talented, innovative and influential filmmaker. Photos.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Cassavetes alternated routine acting work with efforts to mount and direct low-budget personal films, often starring wife Gena Rowlands and friends like Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. Rejecting the label of intellectual, Cassavetes considered himself an intuitive, streetwise filmmaker. Though his films would never reach a mass audience, he loved the collaborative, creative process of making movies, and his work continues to influence Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, and others active in U.S. cinema. Sadly, a lifetime of heavy drinking led to Cassavetes's premature death of liver disease in 1989. This book, edited by Carney (film and American studies, Boston Univ.; The films of John Cassavetes) and based on extensive interviews, is the autobiography Cassavetes might have written. Cassavetes was a self-described "bigmouth" and "troublemaker" as well as a prolific writer and talker. In this book, he discusses his actor's beginnings, honing his craft in the golden age of live television drama, and his growing disenchantment with the studio system. He expounds on improvisation, shaping a film performance, favorite themes of love and marriage, and the eternal problems of independent film distribution. Reading this book is like attending an extended master class at the Actor's Studio, a reminder of a rebellious spirit sadly missed. Recommended for independent-film collections. Stephen Rees, Levittown Regional Lib., PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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This book fleshes out just what an uncompromised life looks like and what being a pioneer really means.
Ian Douglas
This is the definitive book on Cassavetes, written by Ray Carney, the foremost scholar and writer on Cassavetes.
Michael C. Reiss
A must for every fan of indie film as well as aspiring directors and artists - and also for students of life!
Matt Reed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Iconophoric on July 5, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My half-hearted browser's interest in Cassavetes needed a kick in the seat of the pants, I now realize, and reading this book shows me how much I failed to appreciate him while we were lucky enough to have him around. The format is eye-opening. Cassavetes speaks, and then the author. The constantly shifting P.O.V., and the frisson between the truth Cassavetes himself presented, and the unvarnished truth as discovered by the author, makes this book constantly stimulating and endlessly arguable.
Cassavetes life and films are worth a serious look-see -- and this book is an EXCELLENT place to begin that-- if only because he is that rare individual who absolutely refused to accept mediocrity in himself and others, both as an artist and a committed liver of life. He went for the burn every time out, and could often be an ornery s.o.b. when he detected that people were simply going through the motions in their life or art. (The book is rife with anecdotes that literally make you wince and leave you wondering "Could I have long tolerated this behavior in a friend or family member?") He seems never to have thought "I'd better not burn my bridges here", or practiced any of the other forms of incremental, over-thought cowardice that most of us do.
Cassavetes was driven like no one else; he never made a lazy, easy commercial film. He let his life and films commingle, letting the cameras roll for hours, shooting thousands of feet more film than he could use, afterward sculpting it into a shape that could be released. (He said film stock was the one part of his film making on which he would never scrimp.) His films were, probably more than any other director's, explorations of life.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Matt Reed on August 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ray Carney's "Cassavetes on Cassavetes" is a wonderful introduction to Cassavetes' work. I found it to be a great read - amazingly free of academic jargon or fancy terminology. It was hard to put down! And with incredible photos of the wild-man at work. A must for every fan of indie film as well as aspiring directors and artists - and also for students of life! If you want to know even more, I'd also recommend Ray Carney's massive web site devoted to Cassavetes and indie film. Any search engine will take you there. It has wonderful behind-the-scenes information about the making of Cassavetes' work. If you want a volume to provide ongoing daily inspiration and encouragement regarding the artistic process, buy this book. It is a book you will go back to again and again and again...
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A customer on August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Well, Ray Carney has done it again: years of research have culminated in a wonderful examination of Cassavetes, by Cassavetes: his life and work. Carney's takes on the important independent filmmaker's mischief, guts, growth and ups and downs are inspirational. You get a deep look here at a way of living, working and risking that is not about the ambition, power or money so prevalent in the American film industry. Carney carefully lets Cassavetes tell the story in his own words, chronologically following the director's experiences from his childhood to his early career struggles to his groundbreaking independent films. There is much new information.

Throughout, family and love are front and center: these were so deeply important to Cassavetes and were primary themes in his films. I also take away from this book a new inspiration to try to find a way to live and work that places things like security, conformity and acceptance in a more healthy perspective.

Anyone contemplating the arts, film theory or technique, criticism, or just personal or professional growth should read this book. It is a delightful, consciousness-shifting walk through another way to be creative and just to be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
A superb autobiography pieced together from spoken interviews. Carney neither fawns over Cassavetes (as he sometimes has done in the past), nor does he paint an unqualified portrait of a dark, tortured soul (as most artist biographies tend to do).
Instead, Carney gives us insight into a new type of artistic genius, one whose life may not have been rife with passionate love affairs and bouts of madness, but was nevertheless rich and intense. A man whose artistic goal was not to tap the furthest depths of his soul, but instead to revel in the sheer awkwardness, goofiness, and comedy of lived experience.
An eye-opening experience.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Arch Llewellyn on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Ray Carney's done a great service to film fans by bringing Cassavetes' scattered talks and interviews together into a coherent statement on art. Carney shows how Cassavetes' whole process of filmmaking was tied to his outlook on life. Combative, spontaneous and deliberately amateur, he aimed for situations where writer, actor and viewer are all left without direction, forced to respond to the story as individuals rather than reach for pre-approved 'social codes'. He savagely edited his films to defy audience expectations, usually rejecting versions that the studios, his collaborators and even his wife liked best. Some of Cassavetes' statements made me wonder if he did this to edit some part of himself--the Greek immigrant son made good, with the blonde wife and kids and Hollywood home. In some ways he was an insider desperate to stay on the outside. Conflict was fun for him, he thought America needed more of it, and the messy collaborative 'families' he built around each film were his alternative to the button-down corporate society he fought against all his life.
As Carney presents him, Cassavetes wasn't out for the money, the glory, the ego or ultimately maybe even the art. He wanted fun, he wanted friends and he wanted people to really live as individuals. Are there folks like this around anymore? We need them more than ever.
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