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http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/cassavetes.htm
USA 1959

John Cassavetes has been called a genius, a visionary, and the father of independent film. But all this rhetoric threatens to obscure the humanism and generosity of his art. The five films included here represent his self-financed works made outside the studio system of Hollywood, on which he was afforded complete control. While about beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, and children, all of them are beautiful, emotional testaments to compassion. Cassavetes has often been called an actor's director.

***

John Cassavetes’ directorial debut revolves around an interracial relationship between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light-skinned black woman living in New York City with her two brothers, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. Their relationship crumbles when Tony meets Lelia’s brother Hugh (Hugh Herd), a talented dark-skinned jazz singer who struggling to find work, and discovers that Lelia is actually black. Shot on location in Manhattan with an amateur cast and crew, Cassavetes’ Shadows is a visionary work and a landmark in the history of American independent film.

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Posters

Theatrical Release: November 11th, 1959 - USA

Reviews                                More Reviews                            DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Optimum (6-disc - The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion Boxset (8 discs - Cassavetes- 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion (Cassavetes - 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Only available in the Boxset listed below:

Only available in the Boxset listed below:

Only available in Criterion John Cassavetes: Five Films Blu-ray set:

The 6 - disc John Cassavetes Collection from Optimum includes: Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, Opening Night with THESE LISTED EXTRAS.

The 8 - disc Criterion John Cassavetes - Five Films includes - Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, Opening Night with THESE LISTED EXTRAS.

            

Distribution

Pioneer Video

Region 0  - NTSC

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Boxset- Spine # 250 / Individual Spine # 251
Region 0 - NTSC
BFI (UK)
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine #251
Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:21:09 1:18:31 (4% PAL speedup) 1:22:03 1:21:52.991 1:22:14.554
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.99 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.10 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.87 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,626,392,348 bytes

Feature: 21,007,394,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.50 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,526,927,655 bytes

Feature: 18,338,045,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Pioneer

Bitrate:

Optimum

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

 

Bitrate: BFI

 

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate: Criterion

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital mono) 2.0 Dolby Digital English

English (Dolby Digital Mono) 

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles None None English, and none English, and none English, and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Pioneer Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: March 24th, 1998
Keep Case

Chapters 10

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Seymour Cassel and Tom Charity
• 16mm Silent Footage of Acting Worksop (4:15)
• 36 page booklet with articles and interviews

Boxset has THESE LISTED EXTRAS.

DVD Release Date: September 12, 2005
Digipack Box

Chapters 12

 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Part of Boxset that also includes 'A Constant Forge' (Documentary on Cassavetes by Charles Kiselyak) , 'A Woman Under the Influence', 'Faces', 'The Killing of a Chinese Bookie', 'Opening Night', and  includes THESE LISTED EXTRAS.
• Video interviews with actress Lelia Goldoni and associate producer Seymour Cassel
• Rare silent 16mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane’s acting workshop rehearsals
• Restoration demonstration
• Stills gallery featuring dozens of behind-the-scenes production photos
Trailer

DVD Release Date: September 24th, 2004

Packaging - (See below photos)
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,626,392,348 bytes

Feature: 21,007,394,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.50 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary with Seymour Cassell and Tom Charity
Silent rehearsal footage (DVD only 4:15)
• Peter Falk on Cassavetes (Paul Joyce, DVD only - 13:07)
• Original trailer (2:51)
• 30-page liner notes - Fully illustrated booklet

• DVD of Feature included

 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 23rd, 2012
Transparent thick Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,526,927,655 bytes

Feature: 18,338,045,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Part of Boxset that also includes 'A Constant Forge' (Documentary on Cassavetes by Charles Kiselyak) , 'A Woman Under the Influence', 'Faces', 'The Killing of a Chinese Bookie', 'Opening Night', and  includes THESE LISTED EXTRAS.
• Video interviews with actress Lelia Goldoni and associate producer Seymour Cassel
• Rare silent 16mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane’s acting workshop rehearsals
• Restoration demonstration
• Stills gallery featuring dozens of behind-the-scenes production photos
 Trailer

Blu-ray Release Date: October 22nd, 2013
Custom
Blu-ray package
Chapters: 11

 

Comments:

NOTE: Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (September 2013): I will try to be brief to get to all five films (Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Opening Night) in this new Criterion 1080P set. Looking at the bitrate graph, technical stats, and most importantly, the screen captures - we fine there is very little difference between the two video, BFI and Criterion Blu-ray, transfer results. All the comments for the BFI (see below) hold true - think grain - some damage remains. Now I toggled between the two version on my system but didn't look at these under a microscope. I have trouble seeing the difference. Likewise for the liner PCM audio - the Criterion is mono and slightly less robust but nothing I would get concerned about. Extras are duplicated (but now in 1080) from their 2005 DVD release with the notable "A Constant Forge" documentary. The interviews, gallery restoration demo and trailer are still there - as are the liner notes.    

 

***

 

ADDITION: BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray (April 2012): Shadows (Cassavetes 1959 Release Version) has been restored from the original 16mm negative, a 35mm duplicate negative, and a 35mm positive print from the original source that was in very poor condition. This is from the UCLA Film and Television Archive source. Much like BFI`s Blu-ray of Faces, Shadows (Cassavetes debut) major attribute in 1080P is grain. Contrast is more layered but the most appealing feature in-motion is the thick, impressive, grain. Yes, damage remains (see last capture) but this is easily the best visual digital representation of the film... to date.

 

Audio is lossless (linear PCM) and seems to have fewer weaknesses than I ever recall previously, but perhaps the sound has perked up a shade from the HD rendering. I feel confident that this is the best Shadows will sound. There are optional English subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.

 

Supplements consist of the same audio commentary with Seymour Cassell and Tom Charity as found on the Optimum and there is a DVD with the 4-minutes worth of Silent rehearsal footage (found on both the Criterion and Optimum.) There is also a revealing 13-minute interview with Peter Falk by Paul Joyce talking about Cassavetes plus an original theatrical trailer. Like Faces this also has an extensive 30-page liner notes - with essays and photos.

Perfect companion piece to go along with BFI`s Blu-ray of Faces. This is an immensely important work - always memorable and another essential recommendation.

***

ADDITION: Optimum - Cassavetes Collection (September - 05) -  We disregard the early Pioneer disc. It is Open Matte. It has boosting but is not fatally poor (well, not as bad as the others). No digital extras but the included liner notes essay by Ray Carney is, again, excellent.

In direct comparison the Optimum looks very good - almost a duplicate of the Criterion. It is impossible to say which is most accurate but they both look strong. The Optimum has the commentary track, but each boxset is stacked with extra features (see listing above). The Optimum has no subtitles, where the Criterion does (optional). As both only come with the entire collection, one should judge by looking at all the comparisons and possibly price may be a factor.

***

Optimum: "Shadows" (Cassavetes' release version, 1959) has been restored from the original 16mm negative, a 35m duplicate negative and a 35mm positive print.

The original elements are in extremely poor condition. This print integrates selected sequences utilizing digital picture restoration tools. An alternate has been made using solely analog picture restoration methods.

***

The Criterion is brighter, sharper and shows a lot of film grain. Easily the better of the two discs. It is really quite striking, but its hard to fault the early Pioneer discs, at least they put the Cassavetes films on DVD before superior technology and high-level standardization had set-in. The Pioneer is cropped most significantly on the sides. The Criterion contrast is exceptional. Obviously the Extras of the Criterion outweigh not only the Pioneer version (which had none) but most DVDs produced today. We don't have to tell you to buy the Criterion Boxset...

 - Gary W. Tooze

 


CRITERION DVD BOXSET - CLICK TO ENLARGE

  


DVD Menus

 

Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC only has one menu screen - BELOW

 


(Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Criterion (Cassavetes 5-Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 

 

BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

DVD included in the Blu-ray package

 

 

Criterion Blu-ray package

 

 

Screen prefaces the Criterion 1080P presentation

 

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

 

1) Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion (Cassavetes - 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



 

 

1) Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion (Cassavetes - 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion (Cassavetes - 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion (Cassavetes - 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

NOTE: This is a close-up of Tony Ray, the son of Nicholas Ray, who would marry his ex-stepmother Gloria Grahame.

 


 

1) Pioneer - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Optimum (The John Cassavetes Collection) - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Criterion (Cassavetes - 5 Films) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray FOURTH

5) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

1) BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Recommended Reading on Cassavetes (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 

Box Covers

   

Only available in the Boxset listed below:

Only available in the Boxset listed below:

Only available in Criterion John Cassavetes: Five Films Blu-ray set:

The 6 - disc John Cassavetes Collection from Optimum includes: Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, Opening Night with THESE LISTED EXTRAS.

The 8 - disc Criterion John Cassavetes - Five Films includes - Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, Opening Night with THESE LISTED EXTRAS.

            

Distribution

Pioneer Video

Region 0  - NTSC

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Boxset- Spine # 250 / Individual Spine # 251
Region 0 - NTSC
BFI (UK)
Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion Collection - Spine #251
Region 'A' - Blu-ray

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...