03 April 2006

The story of John Cazale

    Every time I put my line in the water I said a Hail Mary, and every time I said a Hail Mary I caught a fish.
      Fredo Corleone
      The Godfather: Part II

Last night, we were watching the Godfather. It seems to be a fairly regular staple on cable channels like AMC and Bravo. Sharon observed that you never see the guy who played Fredo anymore. I always figured he drifted into obscurity after the Godfather movies. He didn't.

John Cazale, who played Fredo, had won numerous awards for his stage performances before his film debut in The American Way. In addition The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II, he appeared in The Conversation (also directed by Coppola) and Dog Day Afternoon (a performance that earned him a Golden Globe nomination). He was engaged to Meryl Streep, who was his co-star in The Deer Hunter.

That would be his final film, however. At the same time he was filming, he was dying of bone cancer. The studio, upon learning of his illness, wanted to remove him from the film. Streep fought to keep him, threatenning to quit. He completed the film, but died the same year.

Most of these details come from his IMDB biography.


Chris A. said...

I was just thinking about John Cazale the other day (probably because I got the new DVD of Dog Day Afternoon)... I'm glad to see somebody else giving him some attention.

A great actor, undoubtedly with the highest quality ratio of anybody you could name -- five feature films to his name, all nominated for Best Picture, with three wins. Even when he appeared in archival footage for Godfather III -- nominated for Best Picture. One of the most amazing careers, and one of the saddest stories.

Rob S. said...

And if you've never seen The Conversation, be sure to check it out. It's a heckuva good movie.

There's also a nice Reel Reviews podcast review of it if you do a little digging at reelreviews.com.