Opening Night

3 ratings (3 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Excellent
5 stars
3
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star
Share This!
  Ask friends for feedback

Great Criterion DVD of Cassavetes "backstage" melodrama of resisting role engulfment

Feb 14, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Suspense:

Pros:cast, good setting for crackup. music, cinematography

Cons:too long; too sour for many

The Bottom Line: "I've seen a lot of drunks in my day, but I never seen anybody as drunk as you and still be able to walk. You're fantastic!"


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

 
Except for “Gloria,” John Cassavetes films seem to me easier to admire than to like. This is certainly the case for another, 1977, vehicle for his wife, the great Gena Rowlands. She was 30 and her character, stage-star Myrtle Gordon, was not ready to play the lead role in the play about a menopausal woman grieving her lost sexual power in the play “A Second Woman” by the (decidedly postmenopausal) Sarah Goode (Joan Blondell shorn of her perkiness, channeling crusty Lillian Hellman). As in “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974), Myrtle is cracking up, but being the star of a Broadway-bound play (with out-of-town previews in New Haven), hers is far more public than housewife Mabel’s was.

Ben Gazzara (who died last week) plays the director, Manny, who tries to hold things and his star together with grudging acquiescence of his wife (Zohra Lampert). It seems that Manny and her costar played by Cassavetes have sexual histories with her, but she is very much alone… with fifths of J&B. And haunted by a young fan (Nancy Stein) who was killed running after the cast limousine in a driving rain (when is there ever a light rain in a movie?). The menacing fan (though dead) reminded me of Eve in “All About Eve,” though Margo Channing had a husband and a loyal friend, neither of which Myrtle has (but also not an acidic critic like Addison DeWitt…); the distressed lead will remind others of Natalie Portman’s “Black Swan” turn or Jessica Lange’s Frances Farmer.

Myrtle sees and feels menaced by the ghost, whom the viewer also sees (and Sarah intuits Myrtle is menaced by). The production is otherwise remarkably free of problems (contrast “Slings and Arrows”!), though a star who is too drunk to stand up is definitely a major one. To Sarah’s dismay, both in rehearsals and on opening night (1.5 hours into the film) omits lines and/or plays them for laughs (which they get from an audience eager to enjoy whatever Myrtle does).

Despite running 144 minutes, the film does not delve into the roots of Myrtle’s pathology beyond discomfort that if she does well she will be typecast as an older woman, no longer a romantic lead (not an irrational fear!). Cassavetes indubitably heeded the “Show, don’t tell!” injunction!

Rowlands and Blondell received Golden Globe nominations. Gazzara and John Tuell as one of the exes of Myrtle’s in the play are also outstanding, and, without being obtrusive, there are some impressive visual compositions, shot by the producer(!)Al Ruban, whose recollections provide an interesting bonus feature. Gazzara and Rowlands (ca. 2004) provide a charming additional one. There are also two trailers and a rambling late-70s interview of Cassavetes with very long “questions” by Henri Michel. The great-looking transfer and bonuses of the Criterion edition rate 5-stars (4 for the film itself, primarily for the performances, of which Cassavetes’s own is the least impressive).

Bo Harwood provided music that works well to this and other Cassavetes films.


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

Read all comments (3)

Share this product review with your friends   
Share This!


Related Deals You Might Like...

Opening Night Framed Tile

Opening Night Framed Tile

Set off our decorative ceramic tile in its own stylish stained wooden frame -- the perfect way to complete a decorative gift or keepsake. Rounded edge...
Cafepress.com

$15.00

+$6.49 shipping
Deadly Dudley Opening Night/chartreuse Terror Tail Bait 10 Pack 3 - For Trout

Deadly Dudley Opening Night/chartreuse Terror Tail Bait 10 Pack 3 - For Trout

Store Home |Contact Us |Size Charts |Frequently Asked Questions |About Us |||||||| Deadly Dudley Terror Tail 10 Pack 3In Opening Night/Chartreuse Tail...
eBay

$8.25

FREE Shipping
Washington Nationals 2008 Opening Night Mega Ticket

Washington Nationals 2008 Opening Night Mega Ticket

Washington Nationals 2008 Opening Night Mega Ticket UPC: 99304052457 Manufacture: Thats My Ticket Mfg Part#: TMT-BWASMHOD08 Team: Washington Nationals
Sears
Z-Man MinnowZ - OPENING NIGHT (3)

Z-Man MinnowZ - OPENING NIGHT (3)

Z-Man MinnowZ are an effective, universal baitfish imitation. Popular inshore saltwater bait for redfish, trout, snook and flounder due to durability ...
Cabela's

$4.19

+$5.95 shipping
Oregon Ducks Matthew Knight Arena Opening Night Framed Panorama

Oregon Ducks Matthew Knight Arena Opening Night Framed Panorama

365 Day No Hassle Returns! Capture your favorite moments from the opening night of the Matthew Knight Arena on January 13, 2011, when your Ducks took ...
Fanatics

$87.96

+$4.99 shipping
Blackhawk, Night Ops Gladius Pouch-open Top Ct ( )

Blackhawk, Night Ops Gladius Pouch-open Top Ct ( )

Check out my other items !Be sure to add me to your favorites list !Sign up for my email newsletters by adding my eBay Store to your Favorites #52DG03...
eBay

$19.99

+$2.50 shipping
Milwaukee Brewers 2001 Opening Night / First Game at Miller Park Mega Ticket

Milwaukee Brewers 2001 Opening Night / First Game at Miller Park Mega Ticket

by That's My Ticket Mega Tickets are sports history turned into unique wall art They are created from actual game tickets Enlarged 300-500% Printe...

$59.99

FREE Shipping
Steiner Sports Scott Gomez 2008 Opening Night Introduction 16x20 Photograph

Steiner Sports Scott Gomez 2008 Opening Night Introduction 16x20 Photograph

This Steiner Sports official 16x20-inch photograph is hand-signed by Scott Gomez and shows him taking the ice during the 2008-2009 season opening nigh...
Overstock.com

$76.99

FREE Shipping
Bass Assassin Opening Night Sea Shad 4 - Great For Inshore Fishing For Redfish

Bass Assassin Opening Night Sea Shad 4 - Great For Inshore Fishing For Redfish

Store Home |Contact Us |Size Charts |Frequently Asked Questions |About Us |||||||| Bass Assassin Saltwater Sea Shad-10 Per Bag (Opening Night, 4-Inch)...
eBay

$11.25

FREE Shipping
Cleveland Indians 5th & Ocean MLB Women's Opening Night Triblend Baby Jersey T-Shirt

Cleveland Indians 5th & Ocean MLB Women's Opening Night Triblend Baby Jersey T-Shirt

Style: 20558907,Color: Black/Red,Made of 37% Cotton, Woven, 50% Polyester, Woven, 13% Rayon, Woven,T-ShirtsStyle: 20558907,Color: Black/Red,Made of 37...
Lids

$30.00

+$4.99 shipping