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Gloria (1980)

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

Writer:

John Cassavetes
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Julie Carmen ... Jeri Dawn
Tony Knesich Tony Knesich ... 1st Man - Gangster
Gregory Cleghorne Gregory Cleghorne ... Kid in Elevator
Buck Henry ... Jack Dawn
John Adames John Adames ... Phil Dawn
Lupe Garnica Lupe Garnica ... Margarita Vargas
Jessica Castillo Jessica Castillo ... Joan Dawn
Tom Noonan ... 2nd Man - Gangster
Ronald Maccone Ronald Maccone ... 3rd Man - Gangster
George Yudzevich George Yudzevich ... Heavy Set Man
Gena Rowlands ... Gloria Swenson
Gary Howard Klar Gary Howard Klar ... Irish Cop (as Gary Klar)
William E. Rice William E. Rice ... TV Newscaster
Frank Belgiorno Frank Belgiorno ... Riverside Drive Man #5
J.C. Quinn ... Riverside Drive Man #4
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Storyline

Mild mannered Jack Dawn has been secretly working as an accountant for the mob. He, his Puerto Rican wife Jeri, his teen-aged daughter Joan and his mother-in-law, all who were planning on going on the run, are murdered by the mob because Jack was going to inform on them to the FBI. Before they're killed, Jack and Jeri are able to send their six-year old son Phil to Jeri's friend and their neighbor, Gloria Swenson, for safe keeping. Also with Phil is the book which contains all the information Jack was going to turn over. Gloria and Phil have an antagonistic relationship, not so much for who they are but what they are, Phil a kid, and Gloria a strange white woman who hates kids. As an ex-mistress of a mobster, Gloria learns that the people that killed the Dawns are old friends of hers. As Gloria and Phil go on the run both from the mob and from the authorities (who believe she kidnapped Phil) throughout New York City, Gloria has to come up with a plan on how best to save themselves, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She attempted to beat the mob at their own game. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 October 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

One Summer Night See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

A story about a woman on the lam does not suggest an extensive wardrobe, but director John Cassavetes' "Gloria" is a very special gun moll. Gloria loves clothes and has the money to buy the best; as well, she has an eye for cut and color. Costume designer Peggy Farrell, who had recently won an Emmy for the TV drama, Holocaust (1978), and most recently had worked on Night of the Juggler (1980), showed Cassavetes examples of the work of numerous top designers. Struck by the quality of his fabrics and his print patterns, Cassavetes decided on the boutique collection of Emanuel Ungaro, a disciple of Balenciaga, and recognized as one of the last of the "grand couturiers". Ungaro was also a man with a keen sense of humor. His designs, as worn by lead actress Gena Rowlands in Gloria (1980) are Ungaro a la Cassavetes. Skirts have been shortened drastically and shoulders have been given additional padding; in fact, at the final fitting session, Cassavetes was so carried away with the padded look, he wanted them in the pajamas. An outraged look from his long-suffering wife and star Gena Rowlands put an end to that fantasy, but if Cassavetes could have had his way, the look for 1981 would have been pads on pads. See more »

Goofs

When Phil boards the train, the shot has been reversed, as evidenced by backwards lettering on the signs on the train and the platform. See more »

Quotes

Phil Dawn: [Gloria and Phil try to check in to a hotel, but, the clerk refuses them] He don't know the score, he sees a dame like you, and a guy like me, he don't know.
See more »

Connections

Remade as Gloria (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
A Realist Perspective on a Conventional Formula
22 February 2009 | by jzappaSee all my reviews

You start with flinty, streetsmart gangster types, cross their paths with a little kid, put them in urban peril, and then you squeeze how things stack up for sentimentality, suspense and humor. It's a charming idea, and perhaps that's why this could be considered John Cassavetes's most conventional film. It tells the story of a gangster's girlfriend who goes on the run with a young boy who is being pursued by the mob for information he doesn't even know he might have. But he wants to tell the story his own way, obstructing every convention we would normally expect, instilling a realist perspective in how we follow the movie, making the pay-off that much more worthwhile. Cassavetes didn't intend to direct his script. He just wanted to sell the story to Columbia Pictures. But once his wife Gena Rowlands was asked to play Gloria, she obliged Cassavetes to direct it.

This underdog crime drama is particularly absorbing in its first hour, and ignites with a great beginning. We follow one character, it leads to another character, perspectives are interknit, the situation builds and Cassavetes has complete control over what we know and expect, all in spite of the all-too-familiar premise, which is then set for the rest of the movie, which is a cat-and-mouse hunt per the seedier locales of New York and New Jersey. He makes the threat so real that when the two key characters evade tangible danger, we still feel the tension whenever they round a corner, get in and out of cabs, and other such ordinary actions. He doesn't let on that unwanted company is present. It just happens. There is one scene that lasts for quite awhile before we realize, after Rowlands's title character does, that unwanted company has been there the entire time.

In an Oscar-nominated performance, Rowlands is expectedly the beautiful lead actress, but she sports a kind of masculine quality, creating a much more dense dynamic when she, afraid of her maternal instincts, finds them overpowering her lifelong self-preservation, and begrudgingly protects the boy. As the film progresses, however, she becomes more sincere in her protection, and integrates her love with her seasoned familiarity with how to stay alive in this town. In one creative take on the Fine, I Don't Need You Anyway scene, she asks a bartender, "There's reasons I can't turn and just look, but is there a little kid headed in here or across the street or whatever?" She drives her role with such honest irritable liveliness. Yet the kid is also well cast. He was a conspicuous little boy named John Adames with dark hair, big eyes and a way of trucking his dialogue as if confronting you to adjust a single word. It all works because everything about his character, the way he dresses, talks, revolts and moves, serves the naive notion that he is older, smarter and cooler than he is.

Cassavetes has a natural keenness for guilelessly unadorned location shooting in that he never plans, stages, waits on the weather or time of day, or hires extras or stunt drivers. Note how passers-by in the distance will often look on at the characters, whether Gloria has pulled a gun in a public place or not. Wherever the characters need to be, that place is in real time, as dirty, scuzzy and purely of the film's era as it would've normally been. There's a shabby flophouse where the clerk tells Gloria, "Just pick a room. They're all open." There are bus stations, back alleys, dimly lit hallways, and bars that open at dawn. And his occasional action scenes are so thrilling because of their surprise.

For once, Cassavetes doesn't stage indefinitely extensive scenes of dialogue wherein the actors indulge in their own view of their characters' unraveling. But I miss that. As I've already said, I am very impressed with how tightly he mounts suspense from the very beginning, how Gloria and the kid zip from cab to bus to cab to street to hotel to cab and so on. But regardless of how doggedly realistic he is in his portrayal of a recycled movie plot, he still relies upon that plot rather than the impositions of his characters flexing their wings.


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