Tag Archives: John Cassavetes

Summer Nights

Dear Friends,

Today we are sending you information to while away your summer.
Every night we turn the television channel to Turner Classic Movies, and each night there is always a wonderful old movie to watch.

So far this summer we have watched over 60 movies, including the wonderful classics such as:

It Happened One Night
Three Coins in the Fountain
Jezebel
Holiday Inn
A Room With a View
Some Like It Hot
Laura
Two For The Road
The Blue Angel
Funny Face
The Dirty Dozen
Follow The Fleet
Cabaret
Chorus Line
The Scarlet Pimpernel
All The King’s Men
For Me and My Gal
Gaslight

And such great stars as:
Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Marlene Dietrich, Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, John Cassavetes, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Eva Gabor, Tyrone Power, and Ian McKellen—to name a few!

In this day and age where nothing good seems to be on (and almost never any good news), it’s always nice to know that you can find a great classic movie right on your television set to pass the evening!

Best,
Philip & Marilyn

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The Independence of Slaves

Dear Friends,

As we were discussing the impact that John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands had on the independent film industry in our last post, we would like to share our own experiences in the film industry.   The Theatre Guild has produced 5 films over the years:

  • The Pawnbroker
  • Judgment at Nuremberg
  • Born To Win
  • Slaves
  • A Child Is Waiting

Additionally, our dear partner Marilyn Clark Langner had roles in several of Cassavetes’ films—Shadows and Husbands—and even one of our own independent productions, Slaves, which we produced in 1969, starring Dionne Warwick (in her debut role), Ossie Davis, and Stephen Boyd.  It told the story of two slaves in South Carolina.

marilyn slaves

Marilyn Clark Langner riding in Shreveport, Louisiana on the set of Slaves. You may note that she is riding side-saddle, as ladies did back then.  Marilyn spent months going to Westchester, where she took side-saddle riding lessons.

It was definitely a family affair, as our two small daughters were also in the film.

HOW WE MADE OUR INDEPENDENT FILM SLAVES:

It was 1969, and we were encouraged and emboldened by John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands independent movie adventures.  We read this wonderful movie script by Herbert Biberman, John O. Killens, and Alida Sherman; it was about life for slaves before the Civil War.  We knew that no studio would want to make such an informative and serious film about this subject matter.  But we felt compelled to make it, so we went around asking for support ($750,000) from our kind supporters and received a $500,000 investment a film distribution company in New York.

On a winter day in 1969 we bought a limousine from upstate New York and brought it down to New York City.  Several weeks later, we hired our production workers (3 or 4) and they drove the limo to Shreveport, LA.  There we had contracted a lovely gentleman who owned a 1860s style plantation and farm, who permitted us to shoot the film on his land.

We had hired Dionne Warwick, who played Cassy (the leading actress), in her debut role and Ossie Davis played Luke, the male lead.  We engaged Stephen Boyd to play the slave owner and our dear Marilyn played his wife.  Herbert Biberman was the director.

We all met in Shreveport, LA and there we had a rehearsal hall to prepare the actors for their roles in the film.  All of this was very exciting.  We had a number of casting calls for local women to play in the film.  We were very worried that the residents of Shreveport would be, perhaps, angry and unwilling to participate in a movie showing the life of slaves.  Happily, everyone wanted to be in the movie–we think that was more important than its political view–so we had a full cast of our film and stage actors supplemented by Shreveport residents.

We shot the film in 8 weeks and sent the films we shot to Hollywood to be developed, printed, and edited.  Our director, of course, supervised the editing.  We found an independent distributor, which was not easy because the major film companies were not available for this project.  The film was released in 1972.  It won awards in Europe.  Marilyn and I traveled to the Paris and Berlin film festivals.

We are very proud of this movie and are working hard to have it re-released soon—and we owe our thanks and gratitude to Gena and John for helping pave the way!

We think this is exciting: our film Slaves is available to be watched on either Amazon Prime or Netflix (just click on the orange link)!

 

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On Their Own

Dear Friends,

We show you today a picture we just received from The Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences of the great movie star and our friend, Gena Rowlands, and famed director, Spike Lee—both of whom were recognized on Saturday by The Academy with Governors Awards.

GovAwards_Recap_Eblast_4531

Gena, together with her husband John Cassavetes pioneered a new in motion pictures: The Independent Film.

John and Gena decided one day not to simply act in other people’s films, but to make their own.  Together they ushered in such films as:

Shadows—which won a Critic’s Award at the Venice Film Festival

A Woman Under the Influence—for which Gena earned an Oscar for Best Actress and John earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director

Gloria—for which Gena earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress

Husbands—starring John with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara

Faces—which was nominated for 3 Academy Awards

Minnie and Moskowitz—for which John was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy

Opening Night—for which Gena won Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival

Gena says—about the struggles they had producing these films—

There wasn’t anybody doing it.  Everything was done through the studios.  But we did it on our own. When we ran out of money, we paid for our own pictures by acting for others or mortgaging our home [you can read more about it in an article here.]

They really did pave the way for a lot of independent films, ourselves included when The Theatre Guild produced the 1969 movie, Slaves—but more about that next time!

Congratulations Gena on your Governors Award and for all that you have done in your career!

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