Husbands

John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazzara give outstanding performances in HUSBANDS, Cassavetes's seriocomic improvisatory marathon about three men who go on a wild binge after the sudden death of one of their friends. Harry (Ben Gazzara), Archie (Peter Falk) and Gus (John Cassavetes), three best friends in their mid-30s who live in suburban, middle-class...read more

Reviewed by Michael Scheinfeld
Rating:

John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Ben Gazzara give outstanding performances in HUSBANDS, Cassavetes's seriocomic improvisatory marathon about three men who go on a wild binge after the sudden death of one of their friends.

Harry (Ben Gazzara), Archie (Peter Falk) and Gus (John Cassavetes), three best friends in their mid-30s who live in suburban, middle-class Long Island with their families, are shocked when their friend Stuart Jackson (David Rowlands) suddenly dies of a heart attack. After attending the funeral,

the men go into Manhattan and get drunk, then stay up all night and play basketball, followed by some more bar-hopping. When they finally go home two days later, Harry has a violent fight with his wife, who tells him she wants a divorce, then goes with Gus and Archie into Manhattan to go to work.

Archie accompanies Gus to his dental practice, and talks him into leaving, and they meet Harry, who is fed up with his job. The trio decide to take a weekend trip to London where they check into a fancy hotel and gamble at a casino, then pick up three women and take them back to their rooms.

Most of Cassavetes's cinema verite films as a director are invariably accused (and with some justification) of being rambling, self-indulgent, and unfocused, but it is precisely those elements that make his best work so affecting and memorable, and HUSBANDS, though deeply flawed, is one of the

finest examples of that. It originally ran 154 minutes when it premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1970, then was cut by 16 minutes for general release, but even in the shortened version, many of its scenes go on far too long after they've made their point, while others seem totally

unnecessary. The film's subtitle is "A comedy about life, death and freedom," and although there isn't much plot in the conventional sense, the basic premise allows for a penetrating look at the dreams and frustrations of disillusioned average men who have reached a mid-life crisis and are

searching for some meaning and a reason to go on living. It's about basic things like what it means to have a family, hold a job, make compromises, and be responsible (or not), and treats these issues in an honest and probing manner, catching some revealing glimpses of life.

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