A Word Or Two From Gena Rowlands And John Cassavetes – 1975 – Past Daily Pop Chronicles

The First Family of Independent Film.
The First Family of Independent Film.

– Gena Rowlands – John Cassavetes Interview – Arthur Knight – Feb. 20, 1975 –

Regarded as one of the most innovative and ground-breaking of filmmakers in mid-20th Century Cinema, the work of John Cassavetes goes through phases of re-discovery and returned obscurity. Because his films were so individual and personal, they were often derided in the press as self-indulgent and pretentious. At a time when mainstream films were slick and neatly packaged, John Cassavetes, along with a group of actors, including his wife Gena Rowlands, deconstructed the form and turned it into a gritty depiction of realism that rivaled the work of Italian counterparts breaking similar ground at the same time.

In short, you either loved the work of John Cassavetes or you hated it. There seemed to be no middle ground – even today.

Not only was Gena Rowlands the centerpiece of many of Cassavetes films, she was one of the great talents who worked in and out of the mainstream, much like Cassavetes. The mainstream was a funding source, a means to an end.

As part of a series of interview/question and answers, the film critic and historian Arthur Knight held a screening of the newly released Woman Under The Influence and invited Rowlands and Cassavetes to the interview/Q&A session. Sadly, the questions are barely audible and there is a dandy hum* (see note at bottom) going through much of the interview (which I have tried my best to get rid of). But this is a rare glimpse into the process of filmmaking by who are considered the First Family of Independent Film.

It was done on February 20, 1975 and runs a little over 60 minutes. It’s all worth it.

(Editor’s Note: I originally ran this post in 2013 – at the time, the audio was in terrible shape. I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I have subsequently re-mastered it, getting rid of some 98% of the hum that really made this a difficult interview to listen to. It’s not that way now – so you can now enjoy it to the fullest.)

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  1. This show was actually broadcast on WOR at 10 p.m. on March 24, 1975. On the show of February 20, 1975, the guest was anthropologist Margaret Mead.

    • I don’t think so – this was recorded at USC during one of Arthur Knight’s classes at USC. Had nothing to do with WOR.

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