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New York movies: Shadows (1959)
New York movies: Shadows (1959)

Shadows (1959), directed by John Cassavetes (VIDEO)

Watch the trailer for Shadows, directed by John Cassavetes; No. 8 on our list of the 100 best New York movies.


Raw, intimate and spontaneous in a way that’s authentic to the city’s unpredictable rhythms, John Cassavetes’s jazz-steeped portrait of human relationships is a time capsule of Beat Generation urbanites, as well as the epitome of New York’s scrappy ethos—the template for modern independent filmmaking. This interracial drama was conceived, performed and directed in a studied but freestyle manner that grew out of the Method workshop the rogue Cassavetes had founded in his midtwenties. Bankrolled by family, friends and donations, and lensed largely in the auteur’s own apartment (as well as Times Square, Central Park and downtown), the project was a run-and-gun affair shot on weekends and without permits. It exudes a vitality and candor that still inspire. You don’t have Mean Streets without it, let alone the careers of Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee and Lena Dunham.—Stephen Garrett

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Watch the trailer for Shadows

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