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Shadows (1958)

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

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

John Cassavetes
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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 ... 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 October 1960 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Sombras See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lion International See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Cassavetes was the guest on a Manhattan radio show, promoting Johnny Staccato (1959). Somehow the conversation moved into making a feature film, and Cassavetes told listeners that if he were to make a feature film, they should donate a dollar or two by sending it to the station. A few days later, a surprised Cassavetes had received a couple of thousand dollars from listeners sending money to the station, which he put toward the making of this film. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.200 (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Beautiful
Written by Jack Ackerman, Hunt Stevens and Eleanor Winters
See more »

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User Reviews

True Colors?
8 December 2001 | by mr ladySee 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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