“Forgotten Hollywood”- An Actor of Note…

Posted on July 7, 2022 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

“`Out of the 1960s, came a rugged type of actor, well-suited in Westerns and hard-boiled dramas. Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, James Garner and Steve McQueen come to mind. One of the very best was James Caan; a true movie star who shared his screen time with some of the very best in his generation, such as Marlon Brando, John Wayne, Al Pacino, Robert Mitchum, Kathy Bates, Robert Duvall and Billy Dee Williams. He is remembered as the hot-tempered Sonny in The Godfather; and as the dying football player in the remarkable teleplay, Brian’s Song.

“`Caan went to Hofstra University and sparked an unlikely and fortuitous friendship with classmate Francis Ford Coppola. Caan was accepted to New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, where he studied for five years. He began his career in television in 1961.

“`Caan guest-starred in Combat!, The Untouchables, Death Valley Days, Naked City, Dr. Kildare, Wagon Train, Ben Casey, Get Smart and The F. B. I. His film career began with a walk-on in Billy Wilder’s Irma La Douce. His big break came when Howard Hawks cast him in El Dorado. Caan’s 1971 television role in Brian’s Song proved to be so successful, he earned an Emmy nomination and became an instant matinee idol.  (He had turned down the part four times!)

“`In The Godfather, Coppola originally cast Caan to play Michael Corleone. Both agreed that Al Pacino was better suited to the role. Coppola really wanted his friend to be in the movie, so he moved him over to play Sonny. During the production, Caan began hanging out with actual Mafiosos. Like George Raft, he kept a close relationship with his mob friends for the entirety of his career. Pacino, Caan and Robert Duvall received Oscar nods for their sterling performances.

“`Caan co-starred in Cinderella Liberty, Freebie and the Bean, Funny Lady, Rollerball, Silent Movie, A Bridge Too Far, Comes a Horseman, Dick Tracy and memorable bits in Misery,Thief and Elf. He also had a flashback cameo in The Godfather Part II. During his peak years of stardom,  he rejected a series of starring roles that proved to be successes for other actors, including M*A*S*H, The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Kramer vs. Kramer, Apocalypse Now, Love StoryBlade Runner and Superman.

“`James Caan (above right) was eighty-two.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2022 at 6:12 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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