A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974)
John Cassavetes’ seventh film as a director was a true labor of love and a showcase for his wife, Gena Rowlands. Originally, he wrote this tale of a blue-collar wife struggling with mental issues as a play because Rowlands wanted to find a play about women’s lives. The role was so powerful, however, that she convinced him to make it as a film instead, arguing that no actress could live through the story eight times a week. Cassavetes mortgaged their home and borrowed money from friends, including leading man Peter Falk, who put some of his Columbo money into the picture. When Cassavetes couldn’t find a distributor, Martin Scorsese, a big fan of his work, threatened to pull his own Italianamerican (1974) from the New York Film Festival unless they screened Cassavetes’ picture as well. Even with a successful festival showing, Cassavetes had to rent out movie theaters with his own money in order to get the film in front of audiences. Then he took it around the country to art houses and college campuses, where he and Falk often spoke to audiences after the film. Before long, it had become a critical darling, earning Rowlands her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The film eventually made $6.1 million dollars at the box office, all of which went back to Cassavetes, his investors and the cast and crew. (d. John Cassavetes, 146m, 35mm)
35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation and GUCCI.