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Length:2 Hours 1 Minute
Cast:John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, John Adames, Buck Henry

No less emotionally charged than his indie breakthroughs Shadows and Faces, Gloria (1980) sees maverick director John Cassavetes shaking down and melding two well-established genres -- urban shoot-'em-ups and mismatched couples. The director's wife, Gena Rowlands, gives a white-knuckle turn as Gloria Swenson (a sly Sunset Boulevard nod), whose dilapidated glamour and sheer toughness are apparent from one of her first lines, "I don't like kids. I hate kids, especially yours." Naturally, when the neighbors are slain by the Mob, she takes unwilling custody of their Keane-eyed kid, Phil (John Adames). Trouble is, Swenson is an ex-chorus girl with a history of shady dealings, and the Mob is right on their tail. Although chock-full of narrow escapes and gut-wrenching twists of fate, the film's focus remains stubbornly on the gnarls of the mother-son relationship and on Rowlands's dazzlingly real characterization, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Few women in the movies come as tough as Rowlands's Gloria. And there are few moments in film as exhilarating as when Gloria remembers how to use a six-shooter, complete with a cigarette dangling from her lip. Eddy Crouse

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