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Houston Writer Digs Up An Old Interview With A Movie Legend

The late John Cassavetes is a criminally underrated filmmaker who made "indie movies" in the days before indie movies.

He died 20 years ago; a Houston writer has now unearthed a long, rare and interesting interview he did with the director shortly before he died.

At the time Joe Leydon, who now reviews films for Variety, was the film critic at the Houston Post (Look at this old ad to see how papers used to throw away money in those days). He could get only a very short version of his interview in the paper back then.

"I've been asked if I was surprised that I wasn't able to sell the John Cassavetes interview to some film magazine back in 1985," Leydon tells Hair Balls. "My response: Surprised and disappointed. Surprised, because it was my impression Cassavetes really didn't do much press at that point in time - and, more important, at that point in his life -- and he seemed to be in a very forthcoming mood when I spoke with him. Disappointed, because the feedback I got from a few editors suggested that - again, at that point in time - they didn't hold Cassavetes in quite the same regard as I did."

The current issue of Movie Maker magazine is rectifying the situation.

Cassavetes agreed to the interview, Leydon says, only because the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston was holding a retrospective of his work; his films were relatively rarely seen in those days.

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Oddly enough, the movie he was working on when Leydon interviewed him in California was a comedy, not the usual intense, piercing dramas he was noted for.

Big Trouble was its name, and -- to put it bluntly -- it sucked.

"Funnily enough, Big Trouble was such a flop that it never had a theatrical run in Houston. Instead, it had it's local premiere at -- no kidding! -- the Rice Media Center," Leydon says.

-- Richard Connelly

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