Remembering Indie Film Icon John Cassavetes

On the 25th anniversary of his death, take a look at indie film icon John Cassavetes, as seen through the lens of his producer, legendary photographer Sam Shaw.
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On the 25th anniversary of his death, take a look at indie film icon John Cassavetes, as seen through the lens of his producer, legendary photographer Sam Shaw.

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Today, indie film fans should take a minute to remember the late, great John Cassavetes on the 25th anniversary of his death. As an actor, Cassavetes was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1967 for his scene-stealing role as private Viktor R. Franko in the war film classic, The Dirty Dozen, and a year later he played the devilish husband in Rosemary’s Baby. But it was his pioneering role behind the camera as a screenwriter and director that earned him the unofficial title of “father of American independent cinema.”

Using money he made acting in television, Cassavetes left the studio system and went his own way, making movies in a groundbreaking cinema verite style. And he found an indie kindred spirit in his friend, photographer and producer Sam Shaw.

Shaw, who is known for his legendary “flying skirt” photo of Marilyn Monroe and the famous ripped t-shirt portrait of Marlon Brando, produced many of Cassavetes’ films including A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Gloria (1980), Husbands (1970) and Opening Night (1977).

So to remember the indie film icon, here’s a look at Cassavetes, as seen through the lens of his friend, Sam Shaw.

John Cassavetes and Sam Shaw on location during the filming of A Woman Under the Influence, California, 1973. Photos by Sam Shaw (c) Sam Shaw Inc. licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd. www.shawfamilyarchives.com

John Cassavetes and Sam Shaw on location during the filming of A Woman Under the Influence, California, 1973. Photos by Sam Shaw (c) Sam Shaw Inc. licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd. www.shawfamilyarchives.com

Actress Gena Rowland, Cassavetes’ wife and onscreen muse, with her husband in Los Angeles, 1973. Photos by Sam Shaw (c) Sam Shaw Inc. licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd. www.shawfamilyarchives.com

Actress Gena Rowland, Cassavetes’ wife and onscreen muse, with her husband in Los Angeles, 1973. Photos by Sam Shaw (c) Sam Shaw Inc. licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd. www.shawfamilyarchives.com

John Cassavetes photographed in New York, circa 1970. Photos by Sam Shaw (c) Sam Shaw Inc. licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd. www.shawfamilyarchives.com

John Cassavetes photographed in New York, circa 1970. Photos by Sam Shaw (c) Sam Shaw Inc. licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd. www.shawfamilyarchives.com

For more about Sam Shaw, visit the Shaw Family Archives on Facebook.