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The Museum of Television & Radio Presents Cassavetes

Friday, October 15, 2004

New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA—The Museum of Television & Radio will present Cassavetes, the first comprehensive overview of John Cassavetes's career as a television actor and director. This multipart screening series will feature more than twenty programs from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, many of which have not been seen since their original broadcast, and feature actors Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Seymour Cassell; directors Don Siegel, John Frankenheimer, and Sidney Lumet; and writers Reginald Rose, Budd Schulberg, and Robert Towne; among others. Cassavetes will screen at the New York and Los Angeles Museums from January 14 to March 13, 2005. 

To the general public, John Cassavetes (1929–89) is probably best known for his roles in such Hollywood films as Rosemary's Baby and The Dirty Dozen. To scholars, cineastes, and fledgling filmmakers, he is revered as a pioneering artist—the godfather of the American independent film. There is, however, a third side to the Cassavetes legacy, one that has yet to be fully explored: his prolific career on television. 

A full appreciation of Cassavetes's art is incomplete without a survey of his contributions to television, for it was his background as an actor in that medium that honed his aesthetic as a director. The hallmarks of a Cassavetes film—the roving camera, the combustible atmosphere, the improvisatory (but fiercely rehearsed) performances—are all exponents of the live television dramas in which Cassavetes got his start in the 1950s. As a familiar face on the leading anthology programs of the era, he was at the vortex of a dynamic and intensely creative dramatic form that prized character exploration over plot, emotional veracity over narrative gimmickry. This emphasis on personal relationships and the human condition left an indelible impression on Cassavetes, just as the later experience of working in episodic television, with its hurried shooting schedules, meddling studio bureaucracies, and resolved story lines, provided both the grounding and impetus he needed to set out on his own. Television not only shaped the do-it-yourself paradigm Cassavetes brought to fruition with such intensely personal films as Faces and A Woman Under the Influence, but enabled him to explore—as both an actor and a director—themes and ideas that would preoccupy him throughout his life.  

Among the highlights of Cassavetes are: Omnibus: "Paso Doble" (his breakthrough role); The Elgin Hour: "Crime in the Streets" (remade as a feature, with Cassavetes reprising the lead role); Johnny Staccato (a noir series in which Cassavetes served as star, director, and occasional writer); Ernest Hemmingway's The Killers (the first made-for-television movie, in which he shares the screen with Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and Ronald Reagan); and Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater: "In Pursuit of Excellence" (a high school-themed drama written and directed by Cassavetes and re-discovered by the Museum for this exhibition). 

Cassavetes Screening Schedule                                                                                

January 11, 2005

Members-Only Preview

The curator of Cassavetes will present highlights of Cassavetes's work on television as an actor, director, and writer, along with selections not included in the retrospective. 

January 14–16

Johnny Staccato "The Nature of the Night"; "A Piece of Paradise" (directed by Cassavetes); "A Nice Little Town" (written by Cassavetes); and "The Wild Reed" (1959-60)  

January 18–23

Omnibus: "Paso Doble" (1954)  

Ernest Hemmingway's The Killers (1964)

January 25–30

The Elgin Hour: "Crime in the Streets" (1955)

Appointment with Adventure: "All Through the Night" (1956)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "You Got to Have Luck" (1956) 

February 1–6

Armstrong Circle Theatre: "Time for Love" (1955)

Goodyear Playhouse: "The Expendable House" (1955; excerpt)

Kraft Suspense Theater: "Won't It Ever Be Morning?" (1965)           

February 8–13

20th Century-Fox Hour: "The Last Patriarch" (1956)

Playhouse 90: "Winter Dreams" (1957)  

February 15–20

Alcoa Theatre: "The First Star" (1958)

Burke's Law: "Who Killed Hamlet?" (1965; excerpt)

Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater: "Free of Charge" (1967)

February 22–27

Johnny Staccato: "Murder for Credit" and "Solomon" (1959-60)

The Lloyd Bridges Show: "My Daddy Can Lick Your Daddy" and "A Pair of Boots" (1962-63)                                                          

March 1–6

The David Frost Show (1969; excerpt)

Columbo: "Etude in Black" (1972)

Flesh and Blood (1979; excerpt) 

March 8–13

Quest: "Flip Side" (1963)

Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater: "In Pursuit of Excellence" (1966)                                  

Admission to Cassavetes screenings is included with the Museum's suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. 

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Programs in the Museum's permanent collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000. Visit the Museum's website at