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John Cassavetes
Essential Cassavetes
Essential Cassavetes

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Cassavetes studied literature at Colgate University and acting at the Academy of Dramatic Art a New York. In the early 1950s, he debuted on the stages of community theaters and in several television episodes. Several years later, he gained some notoriety for playing the lead in the Johnny Staccato television series. He also directed several of the series' episodes, Murder for Credit (1959), Evil (1959), A Piece of Paradise (1959), Night of Jeopardy (1960), and Solomon (1960).

Cassavetes was an acclaimed actor, including roles in Rosemary's Baby, and an Oscar nomination for playing Victor R. Franko, one of the convicts in The Dirty Dozen. Money from acting allowed Cassavetes to finance his independent productions.

Cassavetes used his closest surroundings in his independent productions, including his wife, actress Gena Rowlands, his son Nick Cassavetes, his mother and mother-in-law, along with a group of friends interested in his work, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Seymour Cassel. Cassavetes produced 15 film projects with Cassel, 25 with his wife, and 17 with Peter Falk.

Peter Falk, Cassavetes' friend and actor in many of his productions, gained notoriety for his role playing the easy-going Detective Columbo. Cassavetes played in and directed an episode from the series (Étude in Black, 1972).

Nick Cassavetes is the son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. He is a director, actor, and scriptwriter. He gained acting experience by playing in his father's films, e.g. Husbands.

Cassavetes received the Pasinetti Prize for his first film, Shadows (1959).

The film Faces (1968) received three Oscar nominations and did not win in any category; the same thing occurred with the Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival. The film did win numerous other awards, e.g. for best actor (John Marley) at the Venice Film Festival in 1968.

Husbands (1970) received a Golden Globe nomination for best script (written by Cassavetes).

Woman Under the Influence (1974) was showered with prizes: in addition to two Oscar nominations for best actress and best director, Gena Rowlands received a Golden Globe for best actress; at the San Sebastian Film Festival the film received the top festival prize, award for best actress, and Cassavetes the prize for best director (the Silver Shell).

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, (1976) was initially screened in Poland with the title Killing of a Chinese Stockbroker, a mistake in translation resulting from lack of familiarity with the context (there were no stockbrokers and few bookies in communist Poland at the time). The wrongly translated version was retracted, and the 'bookie' returned to the title. Nevertheless, the old title still appears in numerous articles and essays.

Premiere (1977) received a Golden Globe nomination, and Gena Rowlands was awarded the Silver Bear at the 1978 Berlin Film Festival.

Gena Rowlands received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her role in the film Gloria (1980). The film also won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1980.

Love Streams (1984) was awarded the Golden Bear and the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984.

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