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Shadows (1959)

 -  Drama  -  18 March 1961 (Denmark)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 5,508 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 51 critic

Cassavetes' jazz-scored improvisational film explores interracial friendships and relationships in Beat-Era (1950s) New York City.

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Title: Shadows (1959)

Shadows (1959) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Nominated for 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Carruthers ...
Ben
Lelia Goldoni ...
Hugh Hurd ...
Anthony Ray ...
Dennis Sallas ...
...
Tom (as Tom Allen)
David Pokitillow ...
Rupert Crosse ...
David Jones ...
Davey (as Davey Jones)
Pir Marini ...
Pir the Piano Player
Victoria Vargas ...
Jack Ackerman ...
Jack, Director of Dance Studio
Jacqueline Walcott ...
Cliff Carnell
Jay Crecco
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Storyline

Benny's a hipster, moving in and out of Manhattan's beat scene, aimless, maybe close to trouble. His sister Lelia, who looks less African-American than White, is vulnerable and about to fall in love. Hugh, their older brother, is a struggling singer whose agent, Rupert, may be the only person with faith in his talent. The story moves back and forth, like jazz, among the three of them and what seems at first to be separate lives. Lelia meets Tony, and lets herself hope this is true love. Then he meets Hugh and prejudice gives Tony an excuse to cut and run. Can family and friendship bring solace for her hurt, purpose for Benny, and belief in Hugh? Is life more than shadows? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

friendship | talent | jazz | 1950s | singer | See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 March 1961 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Shadows  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot with a 16mm handheld camera on the streets of New York. Most of the dialog was improvised, while all the crew were fellow class members of John Cassavetes or volunteers. See more »

Quotes

Tony: I need the key for 042!
David: You can't get it, Elaine's not in.
Rupert: Where is she?
David: She's dealing with the raccoons, man.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Presented by Jean Shepherd's Night People" See more »


Soundtracks

Beautiful
Written by Jack Ackerman, Hunt Stevens and Eleanor Winters
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User Reviews

True Colors?
8 December 2001 | by (san francisco, ca) – See all my reviews

Like all Cassavetes, Shadows makes every movie in recent memory seem irrelevant to your life and how to live it. The theme of 1959's Shadows centers around race and its effects on relations between men and women. As in life, this falls a distant second to the theme of the pervasive and exhausting need for love. Shadows is often billed as the story of a 'black woman who passes as white.' Cassavetes' film illustrates how these stark delineations between races harms those who exist in the shadows in-between. Lelia is a light-skinned part-African woman in New York who falls for an infantile racist white man. When Lelia's boyfriend meets her darker brother Hugh, her lover's true colors are revealed. Hugh is a dignified and caring protector who refuses to let racism erode his positive nature, though he faces blatant economic persecution in his work. Lelia's second brother, a charismatic jazz musician played by the beautiful Benito Carruthers, is also light-skinned. We painfully watch as his displacement in both 'white' and 'black' social groups gives rise to self-loathing and isolation. Ben wandering New York alone, hiding behind a series of dark sunglasses, is an enduring image from the film. One crushing scene shows Ben promising Lelia's lover that he will convey the sickly reasoning behind the rejection to his sister. Ben's palpable pain is relevant to people of every 'shade.' The dismissal of the possibility of love, based solely on race or other peripheral facts, is tragic across the whole spectrum of social relationships.


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