Our video this week is John Cassavetes‘ comedy/romance/slice-of-life drama Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) in its entirety. Timothy’s cameo near the beginning of the film, verbally sparring with Moskowitz (Seymour Cassel) is justifiably famous. It’s only about 5 minutes long, but it’s one of Tim’s best and most unforgettable performances.
As we saw in Shadows, [John] Cassavetes conflates the actors’ acting strategies with the characters’ interactional strategies. As actors, Tim Carey (Morgan) and Val Avery (Zelmo) take refuge in identities that have been worked up and packaged into predictable, mechanical routines before their scenes even begin, much as the characters they play do in their lives. [Seymour] Cassel gives us acting as improvisatory collaboration. As an actor, Cassel discovers his purposes as he goes along in the same way Moskowitz does as a character. Carey’s and Avery’s forte, as actors, is their ability to hold forth and dominate a scene with the power of their personalities; Cassel’s is his ability to listen, to respond to, to interact with another person. It’s not accidental that Seymour’s (and Cassavetes’) ultimate putdown in the film is to say that someone “has no sense of timing.” Timing is something that involves more than one person. To care about timing is to care about relationship.
Yikes, better late than never! Our pic for what is left of today (sorry about that, folks) is another look at Bert, the affable purveyor of the best chili in town, from the Columbo episode “Dead Weight.” It was first broadcast on October 27, 1971.
Timothy and Peter Falk were not the only John Cassavetes alumni to appear in this episode. The great Val Avery is also here, but unfortunately the three of them do not share any screen time together. Bert definitely deserved his own series, I must say.