33 user 49 critic

Opening Night (1977)

PG-13 | | Drama | 17 April 1978 (Sweden)
An actress suffers an emotional uproar in her personal life after a fan dies trying to see her.




Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Faces I (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An old married man leaves his wife for a younger woman. Shortly after, his ex-wife also begins a relationship with a younger partner. The film follows their struggles to find love amongst each other.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Lynn Carlin
Love Streams (1984)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two closely bound, emotionally wounded siblings reunite after years apart.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Diahnne Abbott
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Mabel, a wife and mother, is loved by her husband Nick but her madness proves to be a problem in the marriage. The film transpires to a positive role of madness in the family, challenging conventional representations of madness in cinema.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A proud strip club owner is forced to come to terms with himself as a man, when his gambling addiction gets him in hot water with the mob, who offer him only one alternative.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Ben Gazzara, Timothy Carey, Seymour Cassel
Husbands (1970)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A common friend's sudden death brings three men, married with children, to reconsider their lives and ultimately leave together. But mindless enthusiasm for regained freedom will be ... See full summary »

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Ben Gazzara, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes
Shadows (1959)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

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

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Ben Carruthers, Lelia Goldoni, Hugh Hurd
Certificate: GP Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A museum curator falls in love with a crazy parking attendant.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel, Val Avery
Gloria (1980)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When a young boy's family is killed by the mob, their tough neighbor Gloria becomes his reluctant guardian. In possession of a book that the gangsters want, the pair go on the run in New York.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Gena Rowlands, Buck Henry, Julie Carmen
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Ghost is an idealogical musician who would rather play his blues in the park to the birds than compromise himself. However, when he meets and falls in love with beautiful singer, Jess ... See full summary »

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Bobby Darin, Stella Stevens, Everett Chambers
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Psychologist Dr. Matthew Clark is the head of the Crawthorne State Training Institute, one of the first boarding schools for developmentally challenged children. Dr. Clark is sympathetic ... See full summary »

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Gena Rowlands
Big Trouble (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

Insurance agent plots with client to kill her nutty husband.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Peter Falk, Alan Arkin, Beverly D'Angelo
3 Women (1977)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Pinky is an awkward adolescent who starts work at a spa in the California desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie's room-mate. Millie is ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Janice Rule


Cast overview, first billed only:
David Samuels
Dorothy Victor
Nancy Stein
Gus Simmons
Ray Powers ...
Louise Lewis ...
Kelly (as Louise Fitch)
Fred Draper ...
Katherine Cassavetes ...
Lady Rowlands ...
Melva Drake
Carol Warren ...


A young woman gets killed in an accident trying to meet her favorite actress Myrtle Gordon after a play. Then Myrtle Gordon felt responsible for the killing leading her down to an emotional crisis that interferes with her professional work as an actress. Written by Chemi González <chemi01@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 April 1978 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Noche de estreno  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The name of the Broadway stage play production being performed throughout the film was "The Second Woman". See more »


A bus rolls by the New Haven theater with an ad for KBIG FM 104, a Los Angeles station. See more »


Maurice Aarons: You're not a woman to me anymore. You're a professional. You don't care about anything, do you? You don't care about personal relationships, love, sex, affection.
Myrtle Gordon: Okay.
Maurice Aarons: I have a small part. It's unsympathetic. The audience doesn't like me. I can't afford to be in love with you.
Myrtle Gordon: Good night.
Maurice Aarons: Yeah, good night.
See more »


Referenced in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Cassavettes's overlooked masterpiece
10 October 2004 | by (Atlanta, GA) – See all my reviews

Yesterday, I went to the monthly Antique Flea Market that comes to town. I really have no interest in such things, but I went for the fellowship of friends who do have such an interest. Looking over the hundreds of vendor, passing many of them quickly, I spotted someone selling VHS tapes and DVDs. Most of the films he had on DVD were rather recent; the oldest one I noticed was the 1940 Cary Grant-Irene Dunne co-starrer MY FAVORITE WIFE. But the VHS tapes, by their nature, were mostly older films. I couldn't resist buying SOMETHING since they were being sold at 3 tapes for $10.00. What a bargain, as Eddie Murphy used to say. I came across one film that I had heard about for years but had never seen: John Cassavettes's OPENING NIGHT (1977). Well, I certainly wanted that being a fan of Gena Rowlands, and I had heard that this film contained one of her finest performances. He also had FACES (1968). I had seen this about 20 years ago, a time when I probably had not had enough life experience to appreciate it thoroughly. And I wanted to take advantage of the bargain, so I grabbed that one too. My other choice was CLAIRE'S KNEE (1970).

When I got home, I decided to put aside the work I had planned to do so that I could watch OPENING NIGHT. I was totally enthralled by this film. It focuses on Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands), a famous actress of stage and screen, who, during out-of-town previews, is having personal and professional problems coming to terms with both her character and the play's theme of facing aging. After one rehearsal, an avid fan and autograph hound accosts her with cries (and tears) of "I love you! I love you!" A few minutes later, this fan is hit by a car and killed. This begins Myrtle's descent into herself where she must face her own fears of aging, the future of her career as a mature actress, and the inadequacies she finds in the play itself (written by a much older female dramatist, played by Joan Blondell). Throughout the film, she sees the dead girl, an obvious symbol of her past; drinks almost constantly; and receives insincere support from her director (Ben Gazzara), the producer (Paul Stewart), her costar (John Cassavettes himself), and the dramatist. Actually, they're more concerned about how her behavior will affect them and their careers: flubbing lines on stage, improvising new lines, generally cracking up on stage, and arriving for the Broadway opening totally drunk.

This story functions not only to address the issues of aging but also to promote Cassavettes's displeasure with mainstream movie-making. As I watched the film, I was at times surprised, confused, amused, disparaging, but ultimately involved, entertained, and satisfied. Cassavettes really had a great sense of humor, cared very much that his audience understood what he was implying, and wanted them to be emotionally involved in the story. He makes allusions to ALL ABOUT EVE with the use of the avid theater fan, even dressing the young girl in a slicker and hat similar to the one worn by Anne Baxter at the beginning of that film. This allusion functions most obviously to support his aging theme, the contrast of the older and younger woman. He also obviously uses the contrast as a symbol for Myrtle's confronting her own lost youth. At first, I felt the symbolism was TOO obvious, but then I realized that that was Cassavettes's intention. He doesn't want his audience misunderstanding what he's getting at; if they did, it would interfere with their emotional involvement. This spectre of youth haunts Myrtle, attacks her, and wants to destroy her. Myrtle eventually "kills" her, but before she can really come to terms with herself and the play, she must reach bottom (another figurative death?). So Cassavettes has her get so drunk that she can't walk and must crawl to her dressing room the night the play opens on Broadway. She resurrects herself (helping yourself out of such situations is also important to the film's theme) and makes the play a success by giving a great performance and changing the direction of play for the better by improvising so that it contains some ray of hope for the aging character she's playing. These scenes are funny and interesting. Cassavettes and Rowlands actually did the play in front of live audiences, who did and did not know they were going to be part of a movie. The play they're doing also acts as contrast: it's mainstream and self-serious about the issues it addresses, that is, until Myrtle changes its denouement. In doing so, she also improves the work of her co-stars. The natural evolution of interaction (achieved through improvisation)between and among human beings, subjective realism, and universal truth - these were Cassavettes's concerns in making films.

Gena Rowlands is amazing throughout. Of course, she has that great face, and Cassavettes (notoriously in love with her throughout their marriage) treats us to numerous closeups of it so that we too can feel her emotions and that we know what's going on inside of her. She makes you care so much about this character that you want to see her work her way out of this crisis of the soul. And this is what holds your attention for the 2 hours and 30 minutes running time. The film is deliberately paced at times and requires constant attention, but anyone with interest in good film-making and great acting will be rewarded. Someone else said that this is a movie for people who love movies. All others be forewarned.

Seek out OPENING NIGHT if you've never seen it. Everyone in it is excellent, and it's one of Cassavettes's best films.

40 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
No Oscar for Rowlands? chevelless67
i think it was boring chrissy_13
Slapped Actress/The Hold Steady ManWhoSoldTheWorld
Cassavetes's best! And the orhers... wwolf-8
Dead Girl: Ghost or Imagnation? kino66
Music from Cassavetes's films viberg_bjorn
Discuss Opening Night (1977) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: