"In Ray Carney's new book about Cassavetes he talks about how the director spent
a year re-editing this movie because he thought it was too "entertaining" and
too "funny" in its first version. Ray Carney's Cassavetes on Cassavetes has
hundreds of similar anecdotes by the filmmaker. It's a perfect introduction to
Husbands. It's anything but a simple comedy. The characters are as unpredictable
as real people and the situations as hard to figure out as stuff in real life.
Husbands gets you all mixed up. Are these guys idiots or inspired? Are they
jerks or pursuing a dream? Cassavetes doesn't want it to be too clear or too
easy to understand. He doesn't want us to laugh off the serious questions. He
talks about that in Carney's book, but it's obvious from the film itself. This
film should be required viewing for all men, so maybe they can begin to
understand themselves, and it should be required viewing for all women so that
they can begin to understand the men in their lives. It's!
not an easy thing to understand, which is why Cassavetes doesn't make the movie
easy for us to understand, but the more times you see it, the more you will see.
Read the Carney book too, for more of Cassavetes' amazing insights into men and
women and what he was trying to do in his films."
Pain is good
Film fanatic | SF, CA United States | 12/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excruciating, frustrating, painful comedy of men, and amazing in retrospect. Cassavetes was an authentic cinematic genius of American film, regardless of the philistine like comments I've seen in these reviews. What I don't undertand is why they haven't made it available on DVD. Are they restoring it? Are there legal tie-ups? What? I've only ever seen it in pieces on television. I would love to be able to examine fully, without commerical interruption or deletion...."
IMPROVISING AT IT'S BEST, "...THE LEGS GO AT 35!"
Film fanatic | 08/21/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I FIRST VIEWED,"HUSBANDS", IN THE THEATRE. NOW 29 YRS LATER, MYSELF MIDDLE AGE AND MARRIED, I SEE BEHIND THE EYES OF THESE ACTORS AND FINALLY REALIZE THEIR MESSAGE. THEY APPEARED ON, THE DICK CAVET SHOW DURING THE MOVIES PREMIER AND LITERALLY TOOK IT OVER. I OWN THE VIDEO AND RECCOMEND IT TO ALL "HUSBANDS'."
Rat Pack In Extremis
Thomas Plotkin | West Hartford CT, United States | 06/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Three forty-ish professionals and best friends from Long Island go on a week-long bender in the wake of the fourth of their number dying suddenly of a heart attack. They play sports, go on an endless pub crawl, and eventually flee their wives and kids on an impulsive trip to London, where they set about pairing off with younger women. This is a very conventional sounding story, and director John Cassavetes, operating in the wake of the surprise success of his own film Faces and his acting appearences in two of the biggest hits of the late '60's (Rosemary's Baby and The Dirty Dozen) got studio backing and stars for Husbands, and shot a two hour mainstream male-bonding comedy that he screened to great success for MGM executives. He turned to co-star Peter Falk during the applause and whispered "Remember that version -- because no-one's ever going to see it again."
He then spent a year making a completely different film in the editing room, taking out all the scenes of a conventional buddy comedy and putting in all the messy inconclusive momements in between the laughs and the plot points. What we get is three great actors -- Mephistophelian bad boy Cassavetes, wounded idealist Falk, and in a film-stealing performance, glowering kill-joy Ben Gazzara, get to the truth behind the arrested adolescence of male bonding.
"I've never seen a helicopter explode. I've never seen anyone go and blow somebody's head off. So why should I make a film about them? But I have seen people destroy themselves in the smallest ways." John Cassavetes. Cassavetes, even after his posthumous reputation has flourished as the very model of the off-Hollywood maverick independent film-maker, remains a polarizing figure to this day, and likely always will. His messy, plotless, chaotic, grueling actor-centered cinema aimed to present a narrow band of human emotions and a narrow strata of society in deliberately unflattering close-up. They are as exhausting to watch as they must have been to make (a typical Cassavetes film took a year to write, a year to shoot, and a year to edit). Critics accused the films' faux improvised scripts, picking at small agonizing personal interactions like scabs for seemingly endless duration, as being no more than acting class exercises run self-indulgently amok: this is actually true, but this is also the source of JC's greatest insight. Cassavetes understood that social conditioning turns all of us into actors, forced to don a mask or pose to enact the various roles we are compelled to perform throughout our days, and that we are generally very bad actors to boot, full of forced laughter, cruel acts impulsively cracking the facade of niceness, self-pity undermining our cool. The moments in our lives where the mask starts to slip because our social performance has ceased to properly achieve what it was supposed to and we start blowing our lines because we don't actually understand why we are doing whatever it is we're doing are the moments his films are about. That is why they are so truthful and so painful to watch, not because of the sputtering inarticulateness of his characters, and meandering plots, the bad lighting and un-composed shots. Husbands is his toughest, most exhausting film, but if you can take it, it's worth the ride.
What always saves a Cassavetes film from the precipice is that by the time the credits roll, we know his people as we know our own loved ones -- flawed, complex, mysterious. His compassion is like a tidal wave, but without a hint of sentiment. The film is also funny as hell, without a single line that resembles a joke.
Cassavetes was the son of self-made Greek immigrants, and I have always found that significant: all those great Greek works that are thrown around so easily in our lexicon now apply to him: tyrant, democrat, anarchist, demogogue, autodidact, tragedian, comedian, daemon. He was all of these things, and ranks as one of the most important, if difficult of American film-makers."
HUSBANDS - The Extended Cut
Steven Baker | Dallas, TX, USA | 07/06/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To set the record straight about the running time of the long-awaited DVD release of John Cassavetes' "Husbands," Sony's own website and press release announce this as "The Extended Cut," with a running time of 142 minutes, with the following text: "Husbands was originally released to preview audiences at a length of 139 minutes but subsequently cut by 11 minutes. The DVD presents the film in its full-length, original version, largely unseen by audiences since 1969." All of us Cassavetes fans know that the film had Festival screenings at 154 min., was released at 138 min., and then cut after initial release by Columbia to 131 min. Since this movie really put the hook in me, I went to see it 5 times in theatres during the 1970's, and I saw at least 3 different cuts of the film (!!), so at the very least, this release is going to be the original theatrical cut, plus who knows what else? If this is truly the case, then "Bravo!" Sony. It's been said that John Cassavetes' films are not so much watched as "lived through." For me, having first lived through "Husbands" in my late teens and early 20's, the film was a revelation and a warning about middle-aged manhood. Now that I'm actually the age of Harry, Gus, and Archie in the film, the questions that it makes me ask are even more urgent: "What am I doing with my life? How can I change?" And "where do I go from here?" When's the last time you saw a movie that made you ask yourself that? "