Shadows (1959)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  18 March 1961 (Denmark)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 6,579 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 59 critic

Cassavetes' jazz-scored improvisational film explores interracial friendships and relationships in Beat-Era (1950s) New York City.



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Nominated for 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Carruthers ...
Lelia Goldoni ...
Hugh Hurd ...
Anthony Ray ...
Dennis Sallas ...
Tom (as Tom Allen)
David Pokitillow ...
Rupert Crosse ...
David Jones ...
Davey (as Davey Jones)
Pir Marini ...
Pir the Piano Player
Victoria Vargas ...
Jack Ackerman ...
Jack, Director of Dance Studio
Jacqueline Walcott ...
Cliff Carnell
Jay Crecco


Benny's a hipster, moving in and out of Manhattan's beat scene, aimless, maybe close to trouble. His sister Lelia, who looks less African-American than White, is vulnerable and about to fall in love. Hugh, their older brother, is a struggling singer whose agent, Rupert, may be the only person with faith in his talent. The story moves back and forth, like jazz, among the three of them and what seems at first to be separate lives. Lelia meets Tony, and lets herself hope this is true love. Then he meets Hugh and prejudice gives Tony an excuse to cut and run. Can family and friendship bring solace for her hurt, purpose for Benny, and belief in Hugh? Is life more than shadows? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 March 1961 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Sombras  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Iconoclastic radio personality Jean Shepherd helped John Cassavetes raise money to make the movie by having Cassavetes on his show as one of his rare guests in February 1957. Shepherd loaned Cassavetes his assistant Ellen Paulos to help with the film. The thankful Cassavetes expressed his thanks in the opening credits of the movie. A title reads: "Presented by Jean Shepherd's Night People." (The Night People were members of what the New York Times in the late 1950s called the "cult" of Shepherd listeners.) Shepherd also appears in a crowd sequence in the film, smoking a cigarette. Paulos also appears in the film. See more »


Girl at Party: The trouble with you is, you have a case of self-induced hysteria every time you hear the word 'existentialism'.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Presented by Jean Shepherd's Night People" See more »


References Fury at Showdown (1957) See more »


Written by Jack Ackerman, Hunt Stevens and Eleanor Winters
See more »

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User Reviews

Well-done early independent film by Cassavetes...
26 August 2001 | by (Evansville, Indiana USA) – See all my reviews

1st watched 8/26/2001 - 8 out of 10 (Dir-John Cassavetes): Well-done early independent film by Cassavetes introduced a style that was much different than what Hollywood shows it's audience. This movie also introduced some very taboo subjects, especially the actual racism that probably was prevalent all over the country but was not displayed by the mostly white controlled filmmakers of the time. About the only black actors that had much respect at this time were the ones that acted and displayed personality like whites(aka. Sidney Poitier). Besides this, the idea of ending a film without truly concluding the relationships that began leaves many moviegoers dumbfounded but actually makes the viewers realize that life is like this(it goes on...). I prefer this kind of an ending because it makes you think more about the characters and what may happen next and the conclusions are not just laid out for you. The movie follows the lives of people(particulary a couple of people who have a brief relationship and happen to be opposite skin colors) then we watch what happens when the white man realizes what he's done. This is done very well and makes the movie very special. The acting is supposedly done improvisationally which makes the movie even more amazing. I guess you can say I liked this movie, if you can't tell. If you can find it check out this classic early independent film.

13 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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