Essential Cinema: The Original Indies: The Birth of American Independent Cinema


Directed by John Cassavetes

USA, 1959, 1h 27min, 35mm

Essential Cinema  The Original Indies: The Birth of American Independent Cinema

There are no current or future screenings planned for this film.

“Rarely has so much warmth, delicacy, and raw feeling emerged so naturally and beautifully from performances in an American film.”
—Jonathan Rosenbaum

“So far ahead of all Hollywood and independent films that once you’ve seen [it], you can no longer look at the official cinema: you know that American cinema can be more sensitive and intelligent.”
—Jonas Mekas

“What matters in SHADOWS is less the story … than the electric atmosphere and edgy performances … With a blue and moody Mingus soundtrack and steel-gray photography, the film is still a delight.”
—Time Out

Shot for $40,000 in the apartment of John Cassavetes and on the streets of Manhattan, SHADOWS cast a light on the burgeoning independent film scene with the story of three siblings: Hugh (Hugh Hurd), a stolid, but downbeat Black jazz musician who provides economic support for the “passing;” Ben (Ben Carruthers), a struggling musician; and Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), an artist who yearns for the vibrant colors of life in a world which sees only black and white. Dubbed “fitfully dynamic” by The New York Times, Cassavetes’ “incontestably sincere” revelation is the undeniable watershed moment of American Independent Cinema. In 35mm.

This 35mm restored print is courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.