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

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

John Cassavetes
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 ... Lelia
Hugh Hurd Hugh Hurd ... Hugh
Anthony Ray ... Tony
Dennis Sallas Dennis Sallas ... Dennis
Tom Reese ... Tom (as Tom Allen)
David Pokitillow David Pokitillow ... David
Rupert Crosse Rupert Crosse ... Rupert
David Jones David Jones ... Davey (as Davey Jones)
Pir Marini Pir Marini ... Pir the Piano Player
Victoria Vargas Victoria Vargas ... Vickie
Jack Ackerman Jack Ackerman ... Jack, Director of Dance Studio
Jacqueline Walcott Jacqueline Walcott ... Jacqueline
Cliff Carnell
Jay Crecco 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>

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Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The picture's closing credits declare: "the film you have just seen was an improvisation". See more »

Goofs

When Tony takes Lelia back to her apartment, Ben, Dennis, and Tom are sitting around the table playing poker and trying to arranges some dates. All three bear the marks of a fight that won't take place until near the end of the movie. See more »

Quotes

Lelia: David's writing a new novel all about you, Ben.
Ben: Better not be any of that Beat Generation jazz like the last one.
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

Cassavetes screened a finished version of Shadows in 1957 and 1958 that ran 78 minutes. Part of the original negative of this version was used for the 1959 version, which was completely reshot with new actors. In 2002, Prof. Ray Carney of Boston University discovered the only remaining 16mm copy of this earlier version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Imagine: The One and Only Mike Leigh (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

I Love You Truly
(uncredited)
Written by Carrie Jacobs Bond
Performed by Unknown
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User Reviews

Enchanting time capsule of late '50s New York
28 October 2006 | by Camera-ObscuraSee all my reviews

Shot on a minimal budget of $40,000 with a skeleton six person crew, SHADOWS offers an observation of the tensions and lives of three siblings in an African-American family in which two of the three siblings, Ben (Ben Carruthers) and Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), are light-skinned and able to pass for white. Cassavetes demanded that the actors retain their real names to reflect the actual conflicts within the group but saw the film as being concerned with human problems as opposed imply to racial ones. Cassavetes shot the film in ten minute takes and jagged editing, a reaction against 'seamless' Hollywood production values. Cassavetes main inspiration - at least in the cinematic style the film was shot - were the Italian neo-realists whilst also professing admiration for Welles' pioneering spirit. The use of amateurs and improvisation might resemble some of the Italian neo-realist directors, but with his bebop score by Charles Mingus ans Shafi Hadi, the film feels very different, very American, unlike anything made before really.

The song with the feathered girls, "I feel like a lolly-pop" (or something) feels like light years back to me, ancient history. But no matter how dated it might look, it still makes a delightful time capsule of late Fifties New York today. I think it's this is one of the first films made aspiring filmmakers realize they could shoot an independent film, without Hollywood, improvised and without a real budget. Seymour Cassel, who acted and was involved in SHADOWS, claims it was Jules Dassin's THE NAKED CITY (1948) that was the first and inspired them all, but I think this was the one that really opened the eyes of aspiring independent American filmmakers.

Camera Obscura --- 8/10


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 October 1960 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Shadows See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Lion International See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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