- 1 hr 27 min
Shadows is the first film directed by cult independent American director John Cassavetes; despite some sources crediting Cassavetes with writing the screenplay no credits are given for writing the movie, which was improvised by the actors. Initially filmed in 1957 Cassavetes returned to the project for reshoots in 1959 after audiences claimed the first version lacked a coherent story. Despite controversy over the reshot version of the film Shadows has become a cult classic and is often credited with kick starting the American independent film industry that dominated U.S. cinema from the mid 1960s through to the 1970s. Shadows tells the story of two brothers and their sister, Lelia who struggle with racial issues in late 1950s New York and Philadelphia. Hugh, the eldest brother and darkest skinned of the African American siblings is offered a job at the start of the movie as a jazz singer in a Philadelphia nightclub. Hugh believes the demands of the club manager are beneath his talents and complains so much that his performances are cut by the club manager. Back in New York Leila and her brother Ben, who wishes to be a jazz trumpeter, attend a series of parties and art exhibitions throughout New York. Lelia is trapped in an unhappy relationship with a white man called David who openly criticizes her attempts at writing fiction at a party they attend. Her story depicts life as spontaneous and to prove she is right she kisses a man she is attracted to called Tony; the pair share an attraction that develops into a physical relationship. Tony has not yet realized Leila is of African American descent and only realizes this when he is introduced to the returning Hugh. Tony leaves because of Leila's race and is not seen again. Leila, Ben and Hugh all search through a series of parties and meetings for a purpose in life with each deciding to change their lives for the better by the end of the movie.