Opening Night (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Cassavetes|
|Produced by||Al Ruban|
|Written by||John Cassavetes|
|Music by||Bo Harwood|
|Editing by||Tom Cornwell|
|Studio||Castle Hill Productions|
|Distributed by||Faces Distribution|
|Running time||144 minutes|
In the film, Broadway actress Myrtle Gordon rehearses for her latest play, about a woman unable to admit that she is aging. When she witnesses the death of an adoring young fan, she begins to confront the personal and professional turmoils she faces in her own life.
- Gena Rowlands as Myrtle Gordon
- Ben Gazzara as Manny Victor
- Joan Blondell as Sarah Goode
- Paul Stewart as David Samuels
- Zohra Lampert as Dorothy Victor
- John Cassavetes as Maurice Aarons
- Laura Johnson as Nancy Stein
- Lady Rowlands as Melva Drake
In common with earlier films, Cassavetes struggled to get Opening Night distributed in America. After a number of preview screenings, it opened on December 25, 1977, at the Fox Wilshire Theater, Los Angeles where it played to almost empty houses, and closed in February having never been commercially shown elsewhere. Screenings in New York City that March were similarly ignored. The film was only picked up by an American distributor in 1991, two years after Cassavetes' death.
Opening Night was critically panned in America on its release. The review in Variety that appeared after a press screening concluded, "One must question whether more than a handful of moviegoers are interested in the effort, whether audiences have not already seen enough of Cassavetes' characters ... He's made these films before and not many seemed interested in them." When it opened in New York, the film was not reviewed at all in most newspapers and magazines.
The film was better received in Europe, and its reputation has improved since its initial release. It currently holds a 95% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "Opening Night is as dense and difficult as one would expect from John Cassavetes, but even the director's detractors will be unable to deny the power of Gena Rowlands' performance."
Film critic Dan Schneider wrote, of the film's narrative structure:
"Many critics have taken this film to be a portrait of an alcoholic...But this is wrong, for alcohol isn’t her problem - nor is her chain smoking. They are merely diversions from whatever thing is really compelling her to her own destruction, and much to Cassavetes’ credit, as a storyteller, he never lets us find out exactly what's wrong with Myrtle, and despite her coming through in the end, there's no reason to expect that she has really resolved anything of consequence. This sort of end without resolution links Cassavetes directly with the more daring European directors of the recent past, who were comfortable in not revealing everything to an audience, and forcing their viewers to cogitate, even if it hurts."
In pop culture
The Hold Steady's 2008 album Stay Positive makes various allusions to the film, the closing song "Slapped Actress" being the most explicit. Savages' 2013 album Silence Yourself starts with sampled dialogue from the film.
- "OPENING NIGHT (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. 1978-05-09. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
- Carney, Ray (2001), Cassavetes on Cassavetes, London: Faber and Faber, pp. 429–434, ISBN 0-571-20157-1
- "Berlinale 1978: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- "Festival de Cannes: Opening Night". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Carney, Ray (2001), Cassavetes on Cassavetes, London: Faber and Faber, pp. 428–431, ISBN 0-571-20157-1
- Opening Night at Rotten Tomatoes
- Dan Schneider. Laura Hird
- Opening Night at the Internet Movie Database
- Opening Night at AllMovie
- Opening Night at Rotten Tomatoes
- Criterion Collection essay by Dennis Lim
- Scene-by-Scene Analysis
- All the World's a Stage, essay on the film