Revisiting: Husbands (4 stars)

Revisiting: Husbands

Cassevetes' scripted comedy drama veers from the ridiculous to the sublime

It’s hard to star rate this one, on account that it veers from the ridiculous to the sublime with little shilly-shallying in between. As married men in the aftermath of a friend’s untimely death, John Cassavetes (starring and directing), Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara ramble around New York and then London, becoming ever more drunk along the way.

Perhaps surprisingly given Cassavetes’ rep as the great advocator of improvisation, this is in the main a very scripted piece, deploying a breed of repetitive hyper-articulate staccato dialogue. Scenes unfurl into maddeningly long, structureless ad-libbing duels, in which the actors’ increasingly desperate efforts to sustain some sort of activity achieve the very opposite of naturalism.

The film is perhaps at its most affecting not when it indulges its verbosity, but when it gives us these three redoubtable actors – all gone now – roughhousing on the street in their funeral suits, in the path of puzzled passers-by.

Selected re-release from Fri 12 Oct.

Husbands (1970) trailer


  • 4 stars
  • 1970
  • US
  • 2h 11min
  • Directed by: John Cassavetes
  • Cast: Ben Gazzara, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes

The death of a friend reunites three men in Cassavetes' comedy drama.