This Is a Blog: I Love Supporting Actors: John Cazale

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Love Supporting Actors: John Cazale

You know, this guy:
Notable Roles:

Fredo Corleone - "The Godfather" (& Part II & sort of in III)

Stan - "The Conversation"

Sal - "Dog Day Afternoon"

Stan (a different one) - "The Deer Hunter"

Why He's Awesome:

Except for a random TV apperance, that is his entire filmography. Before dying of cancer at 42, Cazale made his mark as a supporting actor in 5 of the most enduring classics of the 1970s. Cazale was the supporting actor every director wanted. He worked with Francis Ford Coppola 3 times, Sydney Lumet, and Michael Cimino. All 5 of his films were nominated for Best Picture, and 3 of them made the AFI Top 100, oh yeah, and 2 of them were Godfather films. He went toe-to-toe with Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Marlon Brando. Finding success in his thirties, Cazale died without making a bad movie, without giving a bad performance, and without burning out.

In most of his roles, he would just show up, do his thing, and move on. No one remembers "Dog Day Afternoon" because of the other bank robber. In "The Deer Hunter" he lies in the shadows of De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken. Even in the first "Godfather," he's just one of a ridiculously talented ensemble.

It's really in "The Godfather: Part II" where he starts to emerge as a force to be reckoned with. Fredo comes out of the background and morphs into a major figure in the story. Cazale takes a character who could easily have been a high functioning Sling Blade and layers into the performance complex motivation and difficult emotion. A common character in movies today is a fool played not as a fool but a man who is single-mindedly convinced he's smart (Derek Zoolander, Ron Burgundy). In the '70s, though, Cazale was able to take this simple character and imbue him with traits we now take for granted in such characters.

The tragedy of Fredo depends so much on an actor with the skills to convey the meaning behind his betrayal. A talent like his is rare and it was lost way too soon. His life is a story of if-onlys. If only he had been discovered earlier in life... If only he could have acted for decades instead of mere years... Luckily, he was able to leave his mark in the time he had.

You'd Be Surprised to Learn:

Al Pacino referred to him as his "acting partner," and Meryl Streep called him her "boyfriend" (because he was).

Check out his imdb page.

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Anonymous Tietie007 said...

I saw his last picture, The deer hunter, I'll die just after !

October 12, 2011 at 2:25 AM  

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