CASSAVETES/FALK/GAZZARA/CAVETT

Here’s a 1970 Dick Cavett show featuring the above three actors doing an an appearance to promote Cassavetes’ then-new film ‘Husbands’. This excerpt is only about half of the segment (the rest is lying around in tatters somewhere on Youtube) but it’s enough to give you the general idea of strained mayhem. Before last nights atrocious Oscar moment between Will Smith and Chris Rock, I would have called this moment of celebrity disgrace the worst in television history. Now it doesn’t look quite so bad. At least three of the four participants are having ‘fun’–though at poor Dick’s expense. The first joke is for the three of them to remain monosyllabic or completely silent for as long as possible, leaving the interviewer high and dry. When drunkeness prevails and the actor-trio can’t quite carry this off, slapstick becomes the method of operation and lots of falling onto the floor ensues. Cavett remains game and witty (‘Now I know why I never joined a fraternity’ he says at one point). You know you’re in trouble when the normally inarticulate and stubbornly obscure Peter Falk winds up being the most voluble and–gulp–sincere exponent of the film, actually behaving like a talk show guest for a few moments. In spite of (or perhaps because of?) this I plan on watching ‘Husbands’ tonight…either that or a replay of last nights celebrity disgrace. (At least that only took a minute. ‘Husbands’ runs two hours and five minutes). Perhaps this appearance was a bit more thoughtfully planned than it looks–it may, for instance, have been intended to give the audience a sense of what the movie was actually like and thus can be referred to now as a ‘performative’ appearance. Cavett has called this clip his least favorite moment in the history of his show. Sheesh…

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