Husbands (1970)

Husbands (1970)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Husbands Photos

Movie Info

John Cassavetes wrote and directed this look at three middle-aged men thrown into a midlife crisis when one of their mutual friends dies. Harry (Ben Gazzara), Archie (Peter Falk) and Gus (John Cassavetes) attend the funeral of their buddy David Rowlands (Stuart Jackson); all three are starting to feel the pressures of their advancing years, while Harry is having serious problems with his marriage. After the funeral, the three men decide that they need to get away from it all for a while, and they spend the next two days getting drunk, shooting hoops, playing cards, sleeping on the subway, and pretending that they're teenagers again. After 48 hours of irresponsibility, Archie and Gus decide that fun is fun but it's time to go home. But when Harry goes back to his wife, they have a huge argument; Harry storms out and decides to fly to England, persuading Archie and Gus to tag along. They get dressed up, visit a casino, and pick up beautiful women, but while Archie and Gus, as before, look at this as a brief vacation from their lives as loyal husbands and fathers, Harry doesn't want to go home, even though he seems more troubled by his infidelity than do his two friends. Cassavetes' first directorial project after his critical breakthrough with Faces, featuring intense, largely improvised performances by two of his most consistent collaborators, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk, Husbands was originally released in a cut running 154 minutes, but was trimmed to 138 minutes for general release. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
PG-13 (for mature thematic elements including sexual situations, language, drunkenness, and brief violence)
Classics , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Columbia Pictures

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John Cassavetes
as Gus Demetri
Peter Falk
as Archie Black
Ben Gazzara
as Harry
Jenny Runacre
as Mary Tynan
Jenny Wright
as Pearl Billingham
Jenny Lee Wright
as Pearl Billingham
Noelle Kao
as Julie
Delores Delmar
as Countess
Peggy Lashbrook
as Diana Mallabee
Eleanor Zee
as Mrs. Hines
Claire Malis Callaway
as Stuart's wife
Lorraine McMartin
as Annie's mother
Edgar Franken
as Ed Weintraub
Antoinette Kray
as `Jesus Loves Me'
Gwen Van Dam
as `Jeannie'
John Armstrong
as `Happy Birthday'
Eleanor Gould
as `Normandy'
Carinthia West
as Susanna
Rhonda Parker
as Margaret
Joseph Boley
as Minister
Judith Lowry
as Stuart's grandmother
Joseph Hardy
as `Shanghai Lil'
K.C. Townsend
as Barmaid
David Rowlands
as Stuart Jackson
Reta Shaw
as Annie
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Critic Reviews for Husbands

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (4)

Few films capture with such life-affirming wonder the despair, hatred, and incomprehension that drives the sexes together and apart.

Full Review… | May 3, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

It is almost unbearably long. It is a narrative film without any real narrative, and although it is a movie about three characters, those characters are seen almost exclusively in terms of their limiting relationship.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

John Cassavetes' Husbands is disappointing in the way Antonioni's Zabriskie Point was. It shows an important director not merely failing, but not even understanding why.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

This 1970 film is John Cassavetes's most irritating, full of the male braggadocio and bluster that mar even some of his best work. But it's impossible to dismiss or shake off entirely.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Highly uneven, painfully drawn-out, deeply sincere, wildly misogynistic and at times agonisingly tedious. It is also intermittently brilliant, with moments of piercing honesty.

Full Review… | September 30, 2012
Observer (UK)

Cassavetes was a masterful anti-Hollywood director who probed human failings until he reached right under the skin.

Full Review… | September 28, 2012
London Evening Standard

Audience Reviews for Husbands

Far more effective in my opinion on showing the impact of death on the male psyche. The wanderings of the three husbands is revealing and far too realistic.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

If you love the experimental work of John Cassavetes, you may really enjoy this film. However, you may not. His skill for creating an atmosphere of creativity and psychological exploration should never be denied. And, his skill as a thoroughly unique voice in American Cinema should never be disputed. All of this does not mean he didn't sometimes make an off-step. HUSBANDS, is for me - an off-step. There are some magical moments -- particularly for Peter Falk, but those moments are separated by dated and rambling overtly quirky scenes that go no where of any real interest. And, unlike most of his films this transgressive bender goes too far beyond the reach of reality. It seems excessive to spend over two hours with these three men just to drive home a point about the societal restraints that prevent male friends to actually grieve over the loss of one of their best friends and to mourn the passing of their youth. The theme is over-worked and muddled by subplots of one bad marriage and a never fully explored sexual ambiguity of another. But, I'd much rather watch a Cassavetes off or miss-step than mediocre turns by other filmmakers.

Matty Stanfield
Matty Stanfield

I know Cassavetes' style is an acquired taste, and pushes the boundaries of cinematic narrative devices (thereby attracting lots of detractors), but I find his work to generally be sharply observational and endlessly fascinating. Husbands (his first of many collaborations with Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk), though, marks a point in John's career where his style reached and erroneously rammed up against its logical conclusion. His scenes take time to develop -- here, they take too long; he promotes the small idiosyncrasies in people to inform and push along his character development -- here, the moments are too small and tedious; he loves showcasing the suburban malaise of middle-aged men -- here, their plights are void of proper context, thus rendering their tumultuous behavior meaningless. And then there's Cassavetes' emphasis on improvisation. Most of the time, he uses it to great effect -- here, it seems like on more than one occasion, the silence exists not to punctuate a piece of dialogue, but to meander while the actors think of what to say next. Interestingly enough, Cassavetes decided to cast himself as the third friend, a role that is closest to a mediator, a relatively gentle middle ground between Gazzara's pent-up-to-the-point-of-explosive rage and Falk's snarky overconfidence. Together they are meant to convey some sense of stranded masculinity, caught in the crosshairs of the encroaching ethos of counterculture love and their perceived need to remain stoic and impenetrable, but they just come across as childish. I know Husbands is supposed to be his critique of unchecked masculinity and the misogyny that accompanies it, but as a time capsule rendition of men being boys, the film certainly has an inherent intrigue, but it is not one of Cassavetes' strongest films.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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