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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.

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Ray Powers ... Jimmy
John Finnegan ... Bobby
Louise Lewis Louise Lewis ... Kelly (as Louise Fitch)
Fred Draper ... Leo
Katherine Cassavetes Katherine Cassavetes ... Vivian
Lady Rowlands Lady Rowlands ... Melva Drake
Carol Warren Carol Warren ... Carla
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 April 1978 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Noche de estreno See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Faces Distribution See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of actress Katherine Cassavetes, the mother of actor-writer-director John Cassavetes. See more »

Goofs

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

Connections

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

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User Reviews

Cassavetes, Rowlands, Gazzara in an interesting experiment
6 May 2000 | by silentgpaleoSee all my reviews

From what I gather on the making of OPENING NIGHT, the plays that are performed in the film are real. The audiences are supposedly real, and the flubbed lines are also real occurrences. Of course, since there is much improvising, it is sometimes hard to see where the energy originated from. But with OPENING NIGHT, Cassavetes brings us into the world of theater, and some of his comments are harrowing.

Rowlands stars as Myrtle Gordon, a serious stage actress with a large following. She has fans that follow her before and after her performances, beg for her autograph, and generally leave Myrte cold. Gazzara is Myrtle's director, a manipulator who knows how to handle his actors. Cassavetes plays Myrtle's costar, a relationship that leads to fights with Myrtle, on and off-stage.

Meanwhile, Myrtle is starting to lose her grip. She is having difficulty grasping the character she is playing in her latest performance. She has trouble remembering her lines, and staying in character. Her personal life begins to take over.

This is due to her witnessing a death of one of her fans. She brushes off this Anne Baxter( in ALL ABOUT EVE) wannabe, and moments later learns that this fan was killed in a car accident. This brings out guilty feelings in Myrtle, that her life and the lives of others are empty. And that she may be the cause of some of these problems.

Myrtle is a lonely character. She lives for acting, and when she loses her focus, it eats away at her confidence. Myrtle feels unable to express what she already knows. She forgets how to be herself.

OPENING NIGHT is a very powerful film. It demands that we, as the audience, become involved emotionally with the characters. Cassavetes is a loose director who knows how to evoke feelings through character improvisation and crude camera techniques. His films are always professional, but there is a certain gritty quality as well that lends atmosphere and a sense of geography to his work. Cassavetes was a true film artist, and his actors are artists as well.

Rowlands is fearless; she is one actress who rips into herself to release the characters that she play. This often leaves her naked, and that can be fascinating and entertaining. Gazzara is wonderfully pompous as the director, and he plays with a perfect combination of relaxed confidence and creeping self-doubt. And Cassavetes is no slouch as an actor; his work in other directors' films show that he was versatile and inspired without necessarily having to steer.

My only complaints here are that the film has a few too many ideas. This is a minor complaint for such an engrossing film, but the movie becomes top-heavy from all of the threads that the audience is trying to follow. While Cassavetes' HUSBANDS and WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE ran on a straight time-line, OPENING NIGHT is much more loosely structured. This can lead to mix-ups, but as I say, this is only a minor gripe.

OPENING NIGHT is definitely not the film to start with if you are just getting into the Cassavetes film catalogue. It may seem pointless at times, and the running time is a tad long. But, mark my words, there are many points made in OPENING NIGHT, and if the viewer is more familiar with Cassavete's aspirations, the film can be quite a good viewing. For fans of different acting techniques and independent film, I highly recommend this film. I own a copy, and I'll probably never give it up.


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