Faces (1968 film)

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Faces (1968 poster - retouched).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Cassavetes
Produced byMaurice McEndree
Written by John Cassavetes
Starring John Marley
Gena Rowlands
Lynn Carlin
Seymour Cassel
Fred Draper
Val Avery
Music byJack Ackerman
CinematographyAl Ruban
Edited byMaurice McEndree
Al Ruban
Distributed by Continental Distributing
Release date
  • October 17, 1968 (1968-10-17)(UK)
  • November 24, 1968 (1968-11-24)(USA)
Running time
183 minutes
130 minutes (general cut)
CountryUnited States

Faces is a 1968 American drama film written and directed by John Cassavetes. [1] It stars John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Lynn Carlin (in her acting debut), Seymour Cassel, Fred Draper and Val Avery. [2]


The film won two awards at the 29th Venice International Film Festival and received three nominations at the 41st Academy Awards. In 2011, it was added to the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." [3] [4]


The film, shot in cinéma vérité -style, depicts the final stages of the disintegrating marriage of a middle-aged couple (John Marley and Lynn Carlin). We are introduced to various groups and individuals the couple interacts with after the husband's sudden statement of his desire for a divorce. Afterwards, he spends the night in the company of brash businessmen and prostitutes, while the wife spends it with her middle-aged female friends and an aging, free-associating playboy they've picked up at a bar. The night proceeds as a series of tense conversations and confrontations occur.



The film was shot in high-contrast 16 mm black and white film stock. Steven Spielberg worked as an unpaid runner. [5]


As is the case with several of Cassavetes' films, several different versions of Faces are known to exist (though it was generally assumed that, after creating the general release print, Cassavetes destroyed the alternative versions). It was initially premiered in Toronto with a running time of 183 minutes, before Cassavetes cut it down to 130 minutes. Though the 130-minute version is the general release version, a print of a longer version with a running time of 147 minutes was accidentally found by Ray Carney, and was deposited at the Library of Congress. 17 minutes of this print were included in the Criterion box set John Cassavetes: Five Films, though Carney has said that there are numerous differences between the two films.


Faces holds an 83% approval rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 24 reviews with an average rating of 7.3/10. [6] Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars and wrote that the film "tenderly, honestly, and uncompromisingly examines the way we really live". [7]

Pauline Kael, however, was negative to this film, criticizing the "badly performed" acting and "crudely conceived" scenes. [8]

In 2011, Faces was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The Registry called the film "an example of cinematic excess" whose extended confrontations revealed "emotions and relations of power between men and women that rarely emerge in more conventionally structured films".

Faces, and other Cassavetes projects, had significant creative impact on Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Robert Altman. [9]

Awards and nominations

Alternate poster highlighting the film's cast Faces (1968 cast poster - retouched).jpg
Alternate poster highlighting the film's cast
Academy Awards [10] Best Supporting Actor Seymour Cassel Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Lynn Carlin Nominated
Best Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen John Cassavetes Nominated
National Film Preservation Board [11] [12] National Film Registry FacesInducted
National Society of Film Critics Awards [13] Best Film Nominated
Best Actress Lynn CarlinNominated
Best Supporting Actor Seymour CasselWon
Best Screenplay John CassavetesWon
New York Film Critics Circle Awards [14] Best Film FacesNominated
Best Director John CassavetesNominated
Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion Nominated
Pasinetti AwardWon
Best Actor John Marley Won
Writers Guild of America Awards [15] Best Written American Original Screenplay John CassavetesNominated

See also

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  1. Faces - Close to Home - The Criterion Channel
  2. The Criterion Collection
  3. "2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  4. "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  5. John + Gena: dynamite on screen and off|BFI
  6. "Faces (1968)". Rotten Tomatoes . Fandango Media . Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  7. Ebert, Roger. "Faces Movie Review". RogerEbert.com.
  8. 10 Memorable Pauline Kael Quotes About Movies|Flavorwire
  9. Tribute: 26 Years Ago, John Cassavetes Died—After Party Magazine
  10. "The 41st Academy Awards | 1969". Oscars.org . Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  11. "2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  12. "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  13. Weiler, A. H. (7 January 1969). "'Shame' by Bergman Wins 3 Film Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  14. "N.Y. critics pick best movies". The Montreal Gazette. 2 January 1969. Retrieved 29 December 2017 via Google News Archive.
  15. "Awards Winners". wga.org. Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2010-06-06.

Further reading