John Cassavetes

Opening Night

Opening Night

While in the midst of rehearsals for her latest play, Broadway actor Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, after which she begins to confront the chaos of her own life. Headlined by a virtuoso performance by Rowlands, John Cassavetes’s Opening Night lays bare the drama of a performer who, at great personal cost, makes a part her own, and it functions as a metaphor for the director’s singular, wrenched-from-the-heart creative method.

Film Info

  • John Cassavetes
  • United States
  • 1977
  • 144 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #255

Special Features

  • New, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New conversation between actors Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara
  • New interview with producer and director of photography Al Ruban
  • Audio interview with director John Cassavetes from the 1970s
  • Trailers

Available In

Collector's Set

John Cassavetes: Five Films

John Cassavetes: Five Films

Blu-Ray Box Set

5 Discs

$99.96

Special Features

  • New, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New conversation between actors Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara
  • New interview with producer and director of photography Al Ruban
  • Audio interview with director John Cassavetes from the 1970s
  • Trailers
Opening Night
Cast
Gena Rowlands
Myrtle Gordon
John Cassavetes
Maurice Aarons
Ben Gazzara
Manny Victor
Joan Blondell
Sarah Goode
Paul Stewart
David Samuels
Zohra Lampert
Dorothy Victor
Laura Johnson
Nancy Stein
John Tuell
Gus Simmons
Credits
Director
John Cassavetes
Writer
John Cassavetes
Producer
Al Ruban
Executive producer
Sam Shaw
Associate producer
Michael Lally
Sound/Composed music
Bo Harwood
Cinematography
Al Ruban
Camera operators
Frederick Elmes
Camera operators
Michael Ferris
Editing
Tom Cornwell
Art director
Bryan Ryman

From The Current

Opening Night: The Play’s the Thing

Opening Night: The Play’s the Thing

“I’m not acting,” stage star Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) tells her bemused director after a violent episode with her ghostly muse in Opening Night. That’s a loaded claim to be making in a movie that so conclusively smudges the line between …

By Dennis Lim

/
John Cassavetes, Underrated Surrealist

One Scene

John Cassavetes, Underrated Surrealist

The director of Computer Chess and Support the Girls finds in John Cassavetes a surrealist whose weirdest set pieces could make David Lynch blush.

By Andrew Bujalski

/
Barry Levinson’s Top 10

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Barry Levinson is an Academy Award–winning director, screenwriter, and producer.


Adventures in Moviegoing with Rebecca Miller
Adventures in Moviegoing with Rebecca Miller

In a new conversation on the Criterion Channel, filmmaker Rebecca Miller talks about her formative experiences as a movie lover and what she’s drawn to in on-screen acting.

/
This Week on the Criterion Channel
This Week on the Criterion Channel

Since its under-the-radar release in 2007, Ronald Bronstein’s directorial debut, Frownland, has been admired by a generation of young filmmakers for its uncompromising vision, which has earned comparisons to the intense dramas of Mike Leigh and Joh…

/
Stephen Cone’s Top 10

Stephen Cone is a Chicago-based filmmaker whose latest, Princess Cyd, opens in theaters November 2017.


Janicza Bravo’s Top 10

Janicza Bravo is a writer and director based in Los Angeles. Her feature film Lemon is now playing in theaters.


Gotham Nod for Cameraperson, Yang Restored, Scorsese on Brando

The Daily

Gotham Nod for Cameraperson, Yang Restored, Scorsese on Brando

Legendary French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who created some of the most indelible images in film history, has passed away at the age of ninety-two. The BFI pays tribute to him by republishing an article from the winter 1965–1966 issue of Sight…

/
Andrew Ahn’s Top 10

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Andrew Ahn is a Korean-American filmmaker whose debut feature, Spa Night, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.


An Actor’s Actor: Gena Rowlands in Conversation
An Actor’s Actor: Gena Rowlands in Conversation

In anticipation of a retrospective tribute to the collaborations of Rowlands and filmmaker John Cassavetes, we look at a candid conversation with the actor.

/
Film Picks from Agnès Varda, Arnaud Desplechin, Olivier Assayas, and More
Film Picks from Agnès Varda, Arnaud Desplechin, Olivier Assayas, and More

As part of the launch of the new French streaming video service La Cinetek—which was founded by the filmmakers Pascale Ferran (Bird People), Cédric Klapisch (Chinese Puzzle), and Laurent Cantet (Return to Ithaca), as well as Alain Rocca, president…

/
Sean Baker’s Top 10

Sean Baker is a writer/director and cocreator of the television show Greg the Bunny. His movies include Prince of Broadway (2008), Starlet (2012), and Tangerine (2015).


Josh and Benny Safdie’s Top 10

The New York–born–and–raised directors Josh and Benny Safdie’s films have earned them awards from around the world.


Jesse Malin’s Top 10

After playing in hard-core and glam bands throughout the 1980s and ’90s, Queens-born singer-songwriter Jesse Malin released his first solo album, The Fine Art of Self Destruction, in 2002.


Alex Ross Perry’s Top 10

“I have been collecting Criterion Collection DVDs almost as long as I have owned a DVD player,” writes Alex Ross Perry, the director of Impolex (2009), The Color Wheel (2011), and Listen Up Philip (2014).


A Conversation with Bo Harwood
A Conversation with Bo Harwood

One of John Cassavetes’s loyal troupe of collaborators reminisces about working with the fearless filmmaker.

By Sam Wasson

/
Brie Larson’s Top 10

Brie Larson, a self-proclaimed Criterion enthusiast, is an Oscar-nominated actor and a musician.


Aki Kaurismäki’s Top 10

Our favorite Finn didn’t have an easy time picking his ten favorite titles in the Criterion Collection.


James Franco’s Top 10

“I am obsessed with the Criterion Collection . . . Basically, I have every disc in the collection, and I am making my way through them all. It’s rare that I watch one I don’t like.”


John Lurie’s Top 10

John Lurie, whose band, the Lounge Lizards, was one of the most acclaimed jazz groups of the eighties and nineties, has recorded twenty-two albums and has acted in several films, including Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, and The Last Temptation


Explore

John Cassavetes

Writer, Director

John Cassavetes’ emotionally naked human dramas are benchmarks of American independent cinema. Having started out in New York as an actor, Cassavetes brought to his directorial efforts the same kinetic, heightened realism that marked his film and theater roles—a wily danger, the sense that at any moment things could explode from the inside. Shadows (1959), the first film he directed, self-financed for a mere $40,000, didn’t find much of an audience upon its small initial release, but it garnered Cassavetes some notice from critics (including a Venice Film Festival Critics Prize)—as well as studios, resulting in a couple of impersonal projects in the 1960s (Too Late Blues, A Child Is Waiting). He dove back into personal filmmaking later in the decade with the devastating domestic drama Faces (1968). Though hardly a crowd-pleaser, that film—made, like Shadows, wholly independently—was an art-house success, resulting in three Oscar nominations. From that point on, Cassavetes was synonymous with uncompromising, anti-studio American fare, working with a rotating cast of brilliant actors like Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, and, of course, his wife, Gena Rowlands, to touch raw nerves with such films as A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), and Opening Night (1976). Cassavetes died in 1989.