John Cassavetes died exactly twenty years ago on February 3rd, 1989. Cassavetes was a Greek American director and actor who is credited with inspiring the American independent film industry with the release of his film “Faces”, which was one of the first independently financed films to receive Academy Award nominations. Gena Rowlands states that her husband’s interest in filmmaking was “in reality and what people say in their homes to each other.”
“Faces” explores the relationship between a married couple, played by John Marley and Lynn Carlin, who decide to separate after 14 years of marriage. Marley seeks the company of a young professional escort played by Gena Rowlands, and Carlin spends her time with a hippie cowboy played by Seymour Cassel.
Cassavetes’ films were all personal and intimate stories about people. John Cassavetes himself had said that he wanted his characters to “analyze love… the rest of the stuff doesn’t interest me. I have a one-track mind for love.”
In his own life, Cassavetes found love with Gena Rowlands. They met in New York City when they were both young actors in the 1950s. They married in 1954 and had three children, Nick, Alexandra and Zoe. Since Cassavetes passed away in 1989 at the age of 59, his film company, Faces Distribution, is overseen by Gena Rowlands and Julian Schlossberg. All three Cassavetes children are involved in filmmaking.
Director Peter Bogdanovich has said that Cassavetes had an “extraordinary understanding of women” as evidenced in many of his films including “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974) which Rowlands starred in .
Cassavetes was a truly caring and compassionate person– a rarity in show business. Bogdanovich has described Cassavetes as the “only director of his generation that could be called a poet”. A collection of five of Cassavetes’ independent films was released on DVD in 2004 called “John Cassavetes–Five Films” by The Criterion Collection.