Netflix Watch Instantly Adds Five Films From John Cassavetes [Criterion On Netflix]

Netflix has once again added several films available in the Criterion Collection, to their streaming “Watch Instantly” line-up. While their additions over the past few months have been few and far between, they have nevertheless been consistently great choices.

Over the past few days they have been adding the various John Cassavetes films that are available in the “Five Films” box set, save the documentary “A Constant Forge.” You can now watch Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night through their web interface, or through their various other devices (Roku boxes, the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, or select Blu-ray players).

With Redbox ramping up plans to implement a streaming service, Netflix continues to show it’s dedication to expanding it’s library of important films available at a minimal cost to it’s customers.

To see all of the Criterion Collection films available on Netflix Watch Instantly, check out our dedicated page to the service here, where we list all of the films, and link to each.

Which films in the Criterion Collection, not currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly, would you like to see added? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

I’ve linked the cover images to their corresponding Netflix pages, and the titles to their respective Criterion pages. Have fun watching some of the most important and influential independent films of the twentieth century!


John Cassavetes’ directorial debut revolves around an interracial romance between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light-skinned black woman living in New York City with her two brothers, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. The relationship crumbles when Tony meets Lelia’s brother Hugh (Hugh Hurd), a talented dark-skinned jazz singer struggling to find work, and discovers the truth about Lelia’s racial heritage. Shot on location in Manhattan with a cast and crew made up primarily of amateurs, Cassavetes’ Shadows is a visionary work that is widely considered the forerunner of the American independent film movement.


The disintegration of a marriage is dissected in John Cassavetes’ searing Faces. Shot in high-contrast 16 mm black and white, the film follows the futile attempts of captain of industry Richard (John Marley) and his wife, Maria (Lynn Carlin), to escape the anguish of their empty marriage in the arms of others. Featuring astonishingly powerful, nervy performances from Marley, Carlin, and Cassavetes regulars Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel, Faces confronts suburban alienation and the battle of the sexes with a brutal honesty and compassion rarely matched in cinema.

A Woman Under The Influence

John Cassavetes’ devastating drama details the emotional breakdown of a suburban housewife and her family’s struggle to save her from herself. Starring Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands (in two of the most harrowing screen performances of the 1970s) as a married couple deeply in love yet unable to express that love in terms the other can understand, the film is an uncompromising portrait of domestic turmoil. The Criterion Collection is proud to present one of the benchmark films of American independent cinema’”a heroic document from a true maverick director.

The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie

John Cassavetes engages film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays gentlemen’s club owner Cosmo Vitelli, a man dedicated to pretenses of composure and self-possession. When he runs afoul of a group of gangsters, Cosmo is forced to commit a horrible crime in a last-ditch effort to save his beloved club and his way of life. Suspenseful, mesmerizing, and idiosyncratic, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a thought-provoking examination of desperation and masculine identity.

Opening Night

Broadway actress Myrtle Gordon (Gena Rowlands) rehearses for her latest play, about a woman unable to admit that she is aging. When she witnesses the accidental death of an adoring young fan, she begins to confront the personal and professional turmoil she faces in her own life. Featuring a moving performance by Rowlands (and with some scenes shot on stages with live audiences reacting freely to the writing and performing), John Cassavetes’ Opening Night exposes the drama of an actress who at great personal cost makes a part her own.


  • These movies have been removed. I was lucky, I didn’t know who John Cassavetes was until a couple months ago a decided to watch shadows. Then I typed his name into Netflix and watched all 5 of the films that were there and was overwhelmed by his talent and especially by his wife’s perforamces. For two days I was captivated. I had discovered a director that I had missed growing up, he was passed my era, and I was delighted. I just checked netflix randomly today, and it seems all the criterion films have been removed. The only ones remaining are ‘Gloria’ and ‘Tempest’. I am quite sadened because I have friends that I am sure I have not yet been able to coax into watching some of the others such as ‘A woman under the Influence’ or ‘Opening Night’. I did not know that Netflix EVER removed movies. This is in Canada. I don’t know what the status is State side.

    Big Cassavetes fanm signing out.

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