Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:

Halloween will be upon us soon, and when the goblins and pirates have faded, November will be here with rain showers on her skirts, and autumn colors drenching every street. What a great time to see a movie! Join us this Friday, November 2, 2012 to see the John Cassavetes film A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974). 

As a brilliant actor, Cassavetes appeared in 78 films between 1951-1985. He always contended that like Orson Welles, he only worked in other people’s movies in order to make money for his own film projects. Ironically, he had auditioned for The Actor’s Studio in the 50’s, and was rejected. I really began to take notice of him when he did his TV series JOHNNY STACCATO (59-60). 

He directed 16 films. A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE was his 11th directorial effort. Some of the others included SHADOWS (1959), TOO LATE BLUES (1961), A CHILD IS WAITING (1963), FACES (1968), HUSBANDS (1970), OPENING NIGHT (1977), and GLORIA (1980). He was considered a pioneer for American cinema verite. 

Cassavetes said once,” People have forgotten how to relate and respond. What I am trying to do is build something audiences can respond to. I would have liked to make Frank Capra style pictures, but instead I seem to make these crazy tough movies. I guess you are what you are.”

Peter Falk, who made six films with Cassavetes, said, “Every one of his films is about the same thing. Somebody said, “Man is God in ruins.” and John just sees the ruins with a clarity that you and I could not tolerate.”

Trivia: Cassavetes had to remortgage their home to finance this film, and pal, Peter Falk chipped in his earnings from COLUMBO. Cassavetes, at first, could not find any distributor for this film, negotiating personally with theater owners. He was told repeatedly, “No one wants to see a movie about a crazy middle-aged dame.” Finally, another friend of his, Martin Scorsese, threatened to pull out his film ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANY MORE from the NY Film Festival unless they included Cassavetes’ latest movie. Originally, he wrote this script as a play for Gena Rowlands, but she talked him out of it, telling him no one could play this kind of harrowing exhausting part eight times a week. Despite rumors to the contrary, Cassavetes contended that his movies were never improvised; they had a written script that included some of the actor’s prior improvisation.

Cassavetes did a lot of his own camera work, but on this film he was assisted by cinematographers Mitch Breit, and Al Ruban.

The music score for this movie was done by Bo Harwood, who was a talented Sound technician Cassavetes had worked with, and influenced him to write the score; his first. He went on to score 8 films, including 3 others for Cassavetes.


Written/Directed by John Cassavetes @ 155 minutes.

The film stars Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Fred Draper, Lady Rowlands, and Katherine Cassavetes.

Synopsis: A wife and mother of three is deeply loved by her husband, but her worsening mental illness begins to fray the weakened edges of the family, and he must make a difficult decision to resolve the situation.

This film was nominated for 2 Oscars, Best Actress & Best Director, and Gena Rowlands won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actress for her role.

Nick: Mabel is not crazy, don’t call her that–she is just unusual.

Richard Dreyfus stated, “This is the most incredibly disturbing, scary, brilliant, dark, sad, depressing movie I have ever seen. It was so emotional for me that when I got home I had to vomit.”

Rotten Tomatoes rated this film Critics @ 94%, and Audience @ 92%.

Roger Ebert wrote, “This is perhaps the greatest of Cassavetes’ films.”

Nora Sayre of the NEW YORK TIMES wrote, “The most frightening scenes were extremely compelling, and this thoughtful film prompts serious discussion.”

VARIETY: “Gena Rowlands give a bravura tour de force performance, only ever available to actors willing to portray alcoholics or lunatics.”

Cole Smithey wrote, “Gena Rowlands gives a career-defining performance that is a pinnacle of film-acting in an earth-shattering film unlike any other ever made.”

So do yourselves a genuine favor and mark your calendars for this Friday, November 2, 2012, and join us for a screening of this landmark John Cassavetes film, A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE. It will be shown at 924 Broadway, in the historic Pythian Temple, at street level, across from the Theater in the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s Theater District. The door opens at 6:15 p.m. Come early and enjoy the fellowship of other early arrivals. For those who wish to, snacks and beverages, including wine, can be brought to share with others; these will be on the table with the Donation Box. We appreciate some help with the rent of the space and other Club expenses. The film will be screened at 7:15 p.m. and it runs long at 155 minutes. So the movie will be over around 10 p.m. See you at the movies!


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