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John Cazale
May 17, 2011 12:13 PM   Subscribe

I Knew It Was You: Before his tragically early death from lung cancer at the age of 42, John Cazale acted in only five films -- The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part Two, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter -- and each was nominated for Best Picture. Yet today most people don't even know his name. I KNEW IT WAS YOU is a fresh tour through his movies which helped define a generation. With Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Francis Ford Coppola, Sydney Lumet and Steve Buscemi. (documentary, 39mins)
posted by puny human (25 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
The relationship between Cazale and Meryl Streep, especially at that point in Streep's career -- well, both of their careers -- is just heartbreaking.
posted by Madamina at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The conversation is outstanding, one of the great conspiracy films of the 70s. It was just added to netflix instant, anyone who hasn't seen it should really do themselves a favor and check it out.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:17 PM on May 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was just thinking about Cazale the other day. Specifically the ironic "I don't want the cancer" line from Dog Day Afternoon.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2011


He was a hell of an actor. Glad to see him get his due.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:21 PM on May 17, 2011


Yeah, I never knew his name, but I always wondered what happened to the guy from Dog Day Afternoon. His performance in that movie, which I saw when I was way too young to see such things, was gut-wrenching, and really opened my eyes to the power and artistry of well-made film and great performances.
posted by Mister_A at 12:31 PM on May 17, 2011


The conversation is outstanding, one of the great conspiracy films of the 70s.

Not to detract from the post subject, but the opening scenes of The Conversation form a narrative showcase for the sound work of a young Walter Murch. The 70s were a golden era for independent, artful cinema in many respects.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The 70s were a golden era for independent, artful cinema in many respects.

Yeah, serious cinema. Sort of a transition period between the epic '60s films and the narrow-view '80s that, in my view, we a prelude to the mass-produced, blockbuster-billed shite that passes as art these days.

Cazale was definitely the personification of every character he portrayed, but I regret to think that today a person of his talents would probably be relegated to smaller roles as time wore on.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:47 PM on May 17, 2011


Thanks for posting--I had meant to see this at a film fest (I can't remember which), but I missed it. Cazale was so wonderful. I remember feeling cheated as I was learning about film growing up when I discovered he died so young. I had assumed that he was still with us and that I could go see his next film.

.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:58 PM on May 17, 2011


I second favorite character actor of the 20th. I hate to classify him as that had he lived...Just. Rockwell sums it up for me (my favorite actor)....yeah.

The talent of this scene was extraordinary. I auditoned for a role in Jacksonville and used that scene, my heart skipped a beat a few times and I got a lightheaded and headache later. i really would have loved to have seen him act on stage.

thanks for this puny human.
posted by clavdivs at 1:22 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'M SMART..."
posted by clavdivs at 1:23 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wonderful documentary. Full of information I didn't know about Cazale. I have a very numbed appreciation of aesthetic experiences, a lot like drinking really good wine and then being asked to describe it. I rarely, if ever, can even form a sentence about what I liked. For Cazale's work, the most memorable scenes from The Godfather 1 and 2 are a lot of the time involving Cazale, and I never could really put a finger on the subtle things he was doing. But that documentary helped a lot.
posted by scunning at 1:27 PM on May 17, 2011


When we finally watched the Deer Hunter for the first time a coupla months ago, my girlfriend schooled me gently but thoroughly after I thought I was clever for noticing the dude from Dog Day Afternoon.
posted by whuppy at 2:12 PM on May 17, 2011


Would it start a fist fight if I pointed out his appearance (via flashback) in a sixth Best Picture nominee?
posted by evilcolonel at 3:13 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 70s were a golden era for independent, artful cinema in many respects.


What I remember from growing up in the 70s was that clear demarcation between Movies for Grown Ups and Movies for Kids. Our parents would drop us at grandmas and go on double dates with other couples, often to a Restaurant for Grown Ups followed by a Movie for Grown Ups.
It was usually something like Serpico or Network or Marathon Man.

Being a kid that wished he was older from like Day One, I couldnt wait to grow up and be into more adult films like those, even going so far as to watch them when they hit cable and I tried to get in there and swim as hard as I could against the currents of adult thematic complexity that are hard to grasp when youre like 6 years old.

Then of course I finally turn 18 and its the early 90s and everything has gone to shit. Maybe Ill go see Speed.

In conclusion: booooooooooooooooo.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:36 PM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Love Cazale btw. Brilliant actor.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:41 PM on May 17, 2011


Whenever I go camping, when I get out in a canoe into the middle of a lake, I make some comment about feeling like Fredo out in that canoe in that lake in Vegas.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:43 PM on May 17, 2011


That was really good.
posted by Glinn at 5:06 PM on May 17, 2011


John Cazale had sad eyes.
posted by ovvl at 7:54 PM on May 17, 2011


Thanks very much for this.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:34 PM on May 17, 2011


Great post. Thank you for it, and reminding us what great acting can be.
posted by vac2003 at 2:01 AM on May 18, 2011


Wikipedia says he died from bone cancer, not lung cancer.
posted by readyfreddy at 4:26 AM on May 18, 2011


I see on Netflix as DVD but not streaming.
posted by stevil at 9:44 AM on May 18, 2011


I just watched it on netflix, stevil. Maybe i was watching their only copy ;-)
posted by modernserf at 10:10 AM on May 18, 2011


Related article
posted by stratastar at 1:17 PM on May 18, 2011


The lung cancer metastasized to the bones.
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:50 PM on May 19, 2011


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