IMDb > Opening Night (1977)
Opening Night
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Opening Night (1977) More at IMDbPro »

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Opening Night -- Broadway actress Myrtle Gordon rehearses for her latest play, about a woman unable to admit that she is aging. When she witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, she begins to confront her personal and professional turmoil.

Overview

User Rating:
8.0/10   4,117 votes »
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Down 33% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writer:
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View company contact information for Opening Night on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 April 1978 (Sweden) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
An actress suffers an emotional uproar in her personal life after a fan dies trying to see her. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination See more »
NewsDesk:
(4 articles)
Jude Has Star Support on His Broadway Hamlet Opening Night
 (From Popsugar. 7 October 2009, 7:45 AM, PDT)

2 or 3 Things I Learned at Nyff Opening Night
 (From Thompson on Hollywood. 26 September 2009, 1:10 PM, PDT)

Light Camera and Action! Opening night at Tiff .09
 (From Filmicafe. 11 September 2009, 1:16 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Cassavettes's overlooked masterpiece See more (28 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Gena Rowlands ... Myrtle Gordon

John Cassavetes ... Maurice Aarons

Ben Gazzara ... Manny Victor

Joan Blondell ... Sarah Goode

Paul Stewart ... David Samuels
Zohra Lampert ... Dorothy Victor

Laura Johnson ... Nancy Stein

John Tuell ... Gus Simmons
Ray Powers ... Jimmy

John Finnegan ... Prop man
Louise Lewis ... Kelly (as Louise Fitch)
Fred Draper ... Leo
Katherine Cassavetes ... Vivian
Lady Rowlands ... Melva Drake
Carol Warren ... Carla
Briana Carver ... Lena
Angelo Grisanti ... Charlie Spikes
Meade Roberts ... Eddie Stein
Eleanor Zee ... Sylvia Stein
David Rowlands ... Doorman
Sharon Van Ivan ... Shirley
Jimmy Christie ... News stand operator

James Karen ... Bellboy
Jimmy Joyce ... Bartender
Sherry Bain ... Barmaid
Sylvia Davis Shaw ... Hotel Maid
Peter Lampert ... Maitre d'
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Josh Becker ... Himself (uncredited)

Peter Bogdanovich ... Cameo appearance (uncredited)

Seymour Cassel ... Cameo appearance (uncredited)

Peter Falk ... Cameo appearance (uncredited)
Jana Howard ... Young Girl (uncredited)
William Kramer ... Rabbi (uncredited)
Robert Leader ... Larry Stein (uncredited)
Robert von Dassanowsky ... Audience Member (uncredited)
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Directed by
John Cassavetes 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Cassavetes 

Produced by
Michael Lally .... associate producer (as Michael Lally)
Al Ruban .... producer
Sam Shaw .... executive producer
 
Original Music by
Bo Harwood 
 
Cinematography by
Al Ruban 
 
Film Editing by
Tom Cornwell 
 
Casting by
Prometheus Patient 
 
Production Design by
Bryan Ryman 
 
Art Direction by
Brian Ryman 
 
Costume Design by
Aleka Corwin  (as Alexandra Corwin-Hankin)
 
Production Management
Edward Ledding .... production manager (as Ted Lenning)
Foster H. Phinney .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Lisa Hallas-Gottlieb .... second assistant director (as Lisa Hallas)
 
Art Department
Verna Bagby .... chief set construction
Richard Upper .... graphic artist
Robert Vehon .... property master
Abraham Zwick .... set construction assistant
Richard Upper .... main title design (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Crew Chamberlain .... boom operator
Bo Harwood .... sound
Joanne T. Harwood .... sound assistant
Bill Varney .... sound mixer
Joe Woo Jr. .... sound editor
 
Special Effects by
Jaime Fernandez .... rainmaker (uncredited)
Conrad Rothmann .... special effects crew (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Donna Garrett .... stunts
Victor Paul .... stunt driver
Charlie Picerni .... stunt driver (as Charles Picerni)
Charlie Picerni .... stunt coordinator (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Pat Don Aroma .... best boy
Larry Baughman .... best boy
Catherine E. Coulson .... assistant camera
Donne Daniels .... gaffer
Larry Dean .... best boy
Frederick Elmes .... camera operator
Michael Ferris .... camera operator
Emmett O'Connell .... best boy
Joseph L. Rezwin .... gaffer
Son Robinson .... gaffer
Richard Ross .... gaffer
Jed Skillman .... assistant camera
Richard Upper .... still photographer
Dave Walker .... best boy
R. Michael Stringer .... additional photographer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Charles Akins .... wardrober
Miles Ciletti .... wardrober
 
Editorial Department
Kathleen Barker .... post-production
Kent Beyda .... assistant editor
Hal Bowers .... assistant editor
 
Music Department
Lee Houskeeper .... musical consultant
Booker T. Jones .... conductor
Booker T. Jones .... music arranger
Booker T. Jones .... musical director
 
Other crew
Robert Bogdanoff .... production assistant
Esme Chandlee .... publicist
Tom Cornwell .... script supervisor
Arlene Harris .... production secretary
Michelle Hart .... production secretary
Susan Howell .... production accountant
Jack Krupnick .... location manager
Adria Later .... teacher/welfare worker
Eve Siegel .... publicist
Teresa Stokovic .... production coordinator
Sharon Van Ivan .... assistant to producer
Raymond Vellucci .... production assistant
Rick Schmidlin .... production assistant (uncredited)
Rick Schmidlin .... production runner (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Harland Sanders .... thanks (as Colonel Sanders)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
144 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Peter Falk, Seymour Cassel, and Peter Bogdanovich all make cameos in the opening night scene.See more »
Quotes:
Nancy Stein:I never bothered you. You want to kill me. I devoted my life to you. To movies. To music. To theater. I'm 17 years old. I like sex. I like to turn people on. And that's what the theater is: sex. It's like getting laid.
Myrtle Gordon:Um, what did you do to her?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in All About My Mother (1999)See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
39 out of 44 people found the following review useful.
Cassavettes's overlooked masterpiece, 10 October 2004
Author: Christopher Craig (iluvms@msn.com) from Atlanta, GA

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.

Was the above review useful to you?
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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Seymour Cassel cameo elisedfr
Slapped Actress/The Hold Steady ManWhoSoldTheWorld
i think it was boring chrissy_13
Cassavetes's best! And the orhers... wwolf-8
No Oscar for Rowlands? chevelless67
Dead Girl: Ghost or Imagnation? kino66
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