OPENING NIGHT Director: JOHN CASSAVETES U.S.A 1978 COLOUR 144 MIN NEW 35MM PRINT. Book cinema tickets MANY OF JOHN CASSAVETES’ CHARACTERS HAVE BEEN PERFORMERS OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER, AND THE PRESSURE TO SUCCEED HAS BEEN A CONSTANT THEME. It is satisfying then that one of his best films should tackle the subject head on, turning the conventions of the ‘putting on a show’ movie into something wholly personal. The show in Opening Night is the latest work of a distinguished playwright (Joan Blondell) and we see it during its try-outs in New Haven prior to its Broadway opening. The people putting it on are seasoned professionalsactors Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) and Maurice Aarons (Cassavetes), director Manny Victor (Ben Gazzara)and the film is about the doubts, fears and resentments that someone who acts for a living can feel about their professional persona. The play they’re staging is called The Second Woman, and the sticking point is Myrtle’s unwillingness to identify with the role of a woman stricken with midlife doubt. At the same time, Myrtle is busily identifying elsewherewith a teenage girl, a fan of hers who is killed in a traffic accident as the company is leaving the theatre one night. Trying to come to terms with this younger self, and her own sense of betrayed hopes and emotional sterility, Myrtle’s personal psychodrama soon plays havoc with the production. It’s resolved in characteristic Cassavetes fashion, with the players sending up themselves and the play in order to find some other ‘truth’. Less characteristic is his strikingly theatrical mise en scene, with its deep reds and dark backgrounds, a lifetime’s work away from the ramshackle look of Shadows.Richard Combs. Director: JOHN CASSAVETES U.S.A 1978 COLOUR 144 MIN NEW 35MM PRINT.