Wednesday, April 6, 2011

John Cassavetes: A Woman Under the Influence

Assignment: Required Viewing/Writing

John Cassavetes was someone who worked both inside and outside the studio system. An an actor, he was in several Hollywood movies -- he used the money he made acting to finance his independent films. One of his earlier acting roles was in the TV show "Johnny Staccato," in which he played a jazz pianist/private eye. He actually directed a few episodes as well -- I'd like you to watch the episode linked below (it runs roughly a half hour), and answer the following questions in a blog post:

1. Can you detect any traces of Cassavetes style or sensibility, as it appears in "A Woman Under the Influence," in this episode? If yes, explain the commonalities you see; if no, explain the differences in tone and treatment.

2. The format of a private eye TV show has to follow a formula to some degree -- in his independent films, Cassavetes tried to break away from the idea of formula. Why do you think Cassavetes wanted to break away from formula, and what do you think are some of the pros and cons of working within a formula?

"Murder for Credit," a Cassavetes-directed episode of "Johnny Staccato" (the clips have embedding disabled, so you'll have to watch them on youtube):

Recommended Viewing:

Television sucks:

Cassavetes directing:

Husbands (more parts on youtube):

Love Streams (more parts on youtube):

From "A Constant Forge":

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