1959; 82 mins.

SCREENING: Saturday August 9th at 8pm; Followed by a talkback with star Lelia Goldoni


“The films of John Cassavetes come in a deluge of words and emotions, of grand and sad gestures, of characters who want to love and don’t know how… He was the most important of the modern American independent filmmakers, the one whose “Shadows” (1959) clearly demonstrated that one man could make a personal movie without the albatross of the studio system. It is no accident that the indie filmmakers, who dominated last year’s Oscar nominations, have named their own most important award after him.”- Roger Ebert

John Cassavetes’s directorial debut revolves around a romance in New York City between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light- skinned black woman, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. The relationship is put in jeopardy when Tony meets Lelia’s darker-skinned jazz singer brother, Hugh (Hugh Hurd), and discovers that her racial heritage is not what he thought it was. Shot on location in Manhattan with a mostly nonprofessional cast and crew, Shadows is a penetrating work that is widely considered the forerunner of the American independent film movement.

The movie was shot with a 16 mm handheld camera on the streets of New York. Much of the dialogue was improvised, and the crew were class members or volunteers. The jazz-infused score underlines the movie’s Beat Generationtheme of alienation and raw emotion. The movie’s plot features an interracial relationship, which was still a taboo subject in Eisenhower-era America.

In 1993, Shadows was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Lelia Goldoni (born 1 October 1936) is an American actress who appeared in a number of motion pictures and television shows starting in the late-1940s, including uncredited cameo roles in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s House of Strangers (1949), John Huston’s We Were Strangers (1949) and The Italian Job (1969).

She costarred on the episode “Fair Exchange” of the British television series Danger Man (1964) with Patrick MacGoohan.

She is best known for co-starring in John Cassavetes’s groundbreaking film Shadows (1959) and playing the best friend of Ellen Burstyn’s character in Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974).


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