John Cassavetes has the dubious honor of being mentioned by Jean Luc Godard as one of the few hopes American cinema had for the future. The fact is that Cassavetes ended being a lot more than this thanks in part to the uniqueness of his films and the way he pioneered in distributing them. When in 1974 he released a Woman Under the Influence, starring Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands (actually his wife), Cassavetes called one by one all the theaters in the US to see if they would be interested on showing his new movie: the term independent was born. A Woman Under the Influence is a movie that converts routine into surrealism, not because the use of weird and strange paranoias, but because reality always beats fiction and a Woman Under The Influence breaths reality from start to finish. With Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands improvising their acting, Cassavetes gets closer to reality than if he pretended to have it scripted. To sum it up, it’s a movie I encourage all of you to watch even though some had a hard time.
Anyways, today I’d like to talk about Gloria, a movie directed by Cassavetes in 1980 and far away from the concept A Woman Under The Influence was 6 years back in time. First, it’s an action flick, then it was distributed by a major, and finally everything seems to be staged an scripted; the only thing in common is that both have Gena Rowlands on it.
Cassavetes and Rowlands teamed up in more than one film, a collaboration that can only be explained by the confidence John had on her; still, and after seeing a couple of flicks, one realizes that Gena has it. Even though Rowlands was a beauty with no rival on her prime, her best films started on the decade of the 70s, just when the first wrinkles appeared on her forehead but… who cares about that when you have talent?
Rowlands plays the role of Gloria, a middle-age prostitute who finds herself in the middle of a little kid and the mob trying to kill him. Our heroine will protect him to death while an actual relation develops between the two. That’s the plot used by Cassavetes to show us a woman in search for redemption. Needless to say that Rowlands destroys any other presence in the film, a thing noticed by the Academy and that reported her the 2nd Oscar Nomination (she also received one in 1974 for a WUTI) but that wasn’t enough to steal it from Sissy Spacek (please somebody explain that to me) the year that Goldie Hawn was also nominated thanks to Priv. Benjamin (let’s not talk about credibility, please). Worth seeing? Hard to say, even though the scenes showing us an impeccable-dressed Rowlands in a dirty New York city offer a bizarre contrast.
Years later, a remake was produced, starring Sharon Stone and directed by Sidney Lumet.