John Cassavetes (aka Ioannis Kassavetes) grew up as the son of Greek immigrants (mother: actress Katherine Cassavetes , father: businessman) in Manhattan and studied at Colgate University and at the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts , which he graduated in 1953.
He worked as a film extra and assistant manager on Broadway and various New York theaters before receiving his first significant role as an actor in Budd Schulberg's television film Paso Doble . A TV career followed (over 80 roles in two years) and first appearances as an actor in the cinema. Hollywood discovered the young actor in 1953. Bigger roles in A Man Conquers Fear (1956), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Rosemary's Baby (1968) and the long-running television series Johnny Staccato in the USA brought not only considerable popularity but also the necessary money own directorial projects.
In 1956, Cassavetes opened a workshop for unemployed actors, in which the Stanislavsky method was used to interest producers and directors in his own work, after he had tried unsuccessfully to get his friends into TV and film productions. From this workshop he turned to group work and improvisation, from which between 1957 and 1959 the film Shadows emerged. The work, which later received much attention, was shot on 16 mm film on a very small budget and only later transferred ("blown up") to 35 mm film . In this cinema version, the film received the Mostra Critics' Prize in Venice in 1960.
Cassavetes then directed two films for Hollywood studios. Both the working conditions and the artistic results of the films Too Late Blues (1961) and A Child Is Waiting (1962) were depressing for the director. The following, independently produced film Faces (1968) is today interpreted in terms of film history as Cassavetes' liberation from the constraints of Hollywood. For A Woman Under The Influence (1974) he founded the production company "Faces International", which was later followed by "Faces Distribution Corp.".
From 1954 until his death, John Cassavetes was married to the actress Gena Rowlands , who significantly influenced his work through her roles in his films. The marriage gave birth to a son and two daughters who are also active in the film industry as actors and filmmakers: Nick Cassavetes , Alexandra Katherine Cassavetes and Zoe R. Cassavetes . John Cassavetes died on February 3, 1989 of complications from cirrhosis of the liver .
Even Cassavetes' roles as an actor often pushed human boundaries, such as the egomaniacal husband in Rosemary's Baby , who makes a pact with Satan to advance his career, or the selfish brother of a former gunslinger who himself in Robert Parrish's western Vom Devil ridden wants to emancipate his brother at all costs and kills some people in the process.
Later, mainly known for his work as a screenwriter and director, John Cassavetes is now considered to be one of the intellectual fathers and pioneers of American independent film .
His film Shadows, made between 1957 and 1959, is seen today as the starting point for a one-off renewal of American cinema. What later pursued new cinematic forms of expression in the 1960s as New American Cinema , Direct Cinema , Independent Cinema or New Hollywood and thus left classic Hollywood behind, is hardly conceivable without Cassavetes' preparatory work.
His films are often about people from the middle class and the petty bourgeoisie. His characters mostly move outside of Hollywood's established categories such as good and bad, far removed from the ideals that were popular in cinemas at the time, such as beauty, heroism, purity and virtue. With independent dramas such as shadows , faces and husbands , he shaped a new form of film art as a director and screenwriter, which emerged for the first time outside of the big Hollywood studios. Stylistic devices are a moving hand-held camera, which was unusual for the time, occasional blurring, a cautious use of artificial light, preference for original locations over studio sets and suddenly interrupting film scenes. They were the result of often low production budgets and at the same time an expression of his neglect of technology in favor of the performers. Cassavetes did not like the style of the films from the big Hollywood studios. Because of his unconventional way of working, he has repeatedly clashed with the sponsors of the big studios. He liked to use amateur actors and young, inexperienced film technicians in his productions in order to develop his methods with a team that was not yet influenced by Hollywood.
In his films, playing with the actors was always in the foreground, the camera was always close to their faces. Alongside well-known Hollywood greats such as Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando, he is considered to be one of the early proponents of so-called method acting , an acting and teaching method that Lee Strasberg took up in the 1920s and made known in the early 1950s, but actually was developed from the theories and recorded observations of the director and theater reformer Stanislawski .
The same actors often play in Cassavetes' films, as he liked to tailor actors he knew. Most of his performers were friends, former colleagues from drama school, laypeople and family members such as Peter Falk , Seymour Cassel , Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands .
“Say what you are. Not what you would like to be, nor what you should be. Just say what you are. That is definitely enough. "
“I like making difficult films that make people scream. After all, I'm not in the entertainment business. "
“Nobody could work like him. Nobody has any idea how to work like him. "
- 1959: Shadows (Shadows)
- 1961: Too Late Blues
- 1962: A child waits (A Child is waiting)
- 1968: Faces
- 1970: Husbands
- 1971: Minnie and Moskowitz (Minnie and Moskowitz)
- 1972 Columbo : Etude in black (Columbo: Etude in black) - co-director (TV series episode)
- 1974: A Woman Under the Influence (A Woman Under the Influence)
- 1976: The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie)
- 1977: Opening Night
- 1980: Gloria, the gangster bride (Gloria)
- 1984: Love Streams
- 1985: Die ... and Let Live (Big Trouble)
- 1955: The Night Holds Terror - Director: Andrew L. Stone
- 1956: Unleashed Youth (Crime in the streets) - Director: Don Siegel
- 1957: A man conquers fear (Edge of the City) - Director: Martin Ritt
- 1957: Saddle the wind - Director: Robert Parrish
- 1959: Shadows (Shadows)
- 1962: A Child is waiting
- 1964: The Death of a Killers (The Killers) - Director: Don Siegel
- 1967: The Dirty Dozen (The Dirty Dozen) - Director: Robert Aldrich
- 1967: Rebels in Lederjacken (Devil's Angels) - Director: Daniel Haller
- 1968: The Unbeatable (Gli intoccabili) - Director: Giuliano Montaldo
- 1968: Murder on the Via Veneto (Roma come Chicago) - Director: Alberto di Martino
- 1969: Rosemary's Baby (Rosemary's Baby) - Director: Roman Polanski
- 1969: This is how we travel and how we love (If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium) - Director: Mel Stuart
- 1971: Husbands
- 1971: Minnie and Moskowitz (Minnie and Moskowitz)
- 1972: Columbo : Etude in black (Columbo: Etude in black)
- 1973–1976: Mikey and Nicky (Mikey and Nicky) - Director: Elaine May
- 1975: Capone - Director: Steve Carver
- 1976: Two-Minute Warning (Two-minute warning) - Director: Larry Peerce
- 1977: Opening Night
- 1977: A very special place (A very special place) - Director: Richard Donner
- 1978: Hidden Target (Brass Target) - Director: John Hough
- 1978: Vicious Alpha (The Fury) - Director: Brian De Palma
- 1980: Isn't that my life? (Whose life is it anyway?) - Directed by John Badham
- 1981 Incubus - The Incubus - Director: John Hough
- 1982: The Storm (A Surprising Comedy) (Tempest) - Director: Paul Mazursky
- 1984: Love Streams
- 1960 Venice International Film Festival , Pasinetti Award, for Shadows (1959)
- 1961 (nominated) BAFTA Film Award Best Picture, for Shadows (1959)
- 1961 (nominated) UN Award, for Shadow (1959)
- 1963 (nominated) Nastro d'Argento , Best Foreign Film Director, for Shadows (1959)
- 1968 (Nominated) Laurel Awards: Golden Laurel, Best Supporting Actor, 4th Place, for The Dirty Dozen (1967)
- 1968 (nominated) Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Dirty Dozen (1967)
- 1968 (nominated) Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for The Dirty Dozen (1967)
- 1968 NYFCC Award ( New York Film Critics Circle ), Best Director, 2nd Place, for Faces (1968 / I)
- 1968 (nominated) Venice International Film Festival, Golden Lion, for Faces (1968 / I)
- 1968 Venice International Film Festival, Pasinetti Award - Best Film, for Faces (1968 / I)
- 1969 NSFC Award ( National Society of Film Critics ), Best Screenplay, for Faces (1968 / I)
- 1969 (nominated) Oscar for best screenplay for faces (1968 / I)
- 1969 (nominated) Writers Guild of America, WGA Award (Screen), Best Screenplay for Faces (1968 / I)
- 1970 (nominated) Laurel Awards: Golden Laurel, Best Director, 9th Place
- 1971 (nominated) Golden Globe, Best Screenplay, for Husbands (1970)
- 1971 (nominated) Laurel Awards: Golden Laurel, Best Director, 6th place
- 1973 (nominated) Writers Guild of America, WGA Award (Screen), Best Screenplay for Minnie and Moskowitz (1971)
- 1975 (nominated) Writers Guild of America, WGA Award (Screen), Best Screenplay for A Woman Under Influence (1974)
- 1975 (nominated) Oscar for Best Director, for A Woman Under Influence (1974)
- 1975 (nominated) Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture, for A Woman Under Influence (1974)
- 1975 (nominated) Golden Globe, Best Screenplay, for A Woman Under Influence (1974)
- 1975 San Sebastian International Film Festival , OCIC Award - Honorable Mention for A Woman Under Influence (1974)
- 1975 San Sebastián International Film Festival, Silver Seashell, for A Woman Under Influence (1974)
- 1978 (nominated) Berlin International Film Festival , Golden Berlin Bear, for Opening Night (1977)
- 1980 (nominated) Primetime Emmy Award, Flesh & Blood (1979) (TV), (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special, CBS)
- 1980 Venice International Film Festival , Golden Lion, for Gloria the gangster bride (1980)
- 1980 Venice International Film Festival, OCIC Award - Honorable Mention, for Gloria the Gangster Bride (1980)
- 1984 Berlin International Film Festival, FIPRESCI Prize, for Love Streams (1984)
- 1984 Berlin International Film Festival, Golden Berlin Bear, for Love Streams (1984)
- 1984 Nastro d'Argento , Best Foreign Actor, for Love Streams (1984)
- 1986 Career Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association
- Andrea B. Braidt, Elisabeth Büttner (eds.): John Cassavetes: filmmaker , Vienna: Böhlau, 2009
- Ray Carney (Ed.): Cassavetes on Cassavetes , Verlag der Authors, 2003. ISBN 3-88661-256-2
- Anja Streiter: The impossible life. Films by J. C. Traversen 2. Berlin: Vorwerk 8. ISBN 3-930916-04-5
- Andrea Lang, Bernhard Seiter (Ed.): John Cassavetes - Director , PVS Verleger, Vienna, 1993. ISBN 3-901196-064
- Georg Alexander, John Cassavetes, Wolfgang Jacobsen, Peter W. Jansen, Christa Maerker: John Cassavetes , Carl Hanser Verlag, Film 29 series, Munich, Vienna, 1983
- Stefan Lux: John Cassavetes. In: Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Film directors. Biographies, descriptions of works, filmographies. 3rd updated and expanded edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008 [1. Edition 1999], ISBN 978-3-15-010662-4 , pp. 121-123
- John Cassavetes in the Internet Movie Database (English)
- Literature by and about John Cassavetes in the catalog of the German National Library
- The films of John Cassavete's essay by G. Seeßlen (at www.filmzentrale.com)
- An article about Love Streams Essay by Alban Lefranc (on La mer gelée)
- http://www.cassavetes.com Ray Carney (English)
- Georg Seeßlen: Streams of love, images of death filmzentrale.com with quotes from the dictionary on the person of John Cassavete
- Christina Nover: John Cassavetes would have turned 80. (No longer available online.) In: Rhein-Zeitung .de. 2009, formerly in the original ; Retrieved December 1, 2012 . ( Page no longer available , search in web archives ) Info: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Ray Carney: John Cassavetes on the pages of Boston University (English)
- Sascha Keilholz: John Cassavetes Collection on critic.de
- Oliver Baumgarten, Nikolaj Nikitin: Film is Honeymoon ( Memento of the original from February 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Interview with Ben Gazzara (around 2003).
- IMDB Awards: John Cassavetes / Awards
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Κασσαβέτης, Γιάννης Νικόλαος; Kassavetis, Ioannis|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||American actor and director|
|DATE OF BIRTH||December 9, 1929|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||New York City , New York , USA|
|DATE OF DEATH||3rd February 1989|
|Place of death||Los Angeles , California , USA|