Along with his thick neck and trapezoidal torso, Caan seemed just like the athlete he performs, however little in regards to the efficiency in “The Rain Folks” is clear. It’s a heavy position — Killer is the story’s sacrificial lamb — but Caan, working with Coppola, imbues the half with a delicate, persuasive innocence that doesn’t patronize the character or sanctify his incapacity. As an actor, Caan definitely may go large and externalize a personality’s inside workings (he does loads across the eyebrows), and Kilgannon has his outsize moments. But what makes the character work is the poignant impassiveness that conveys simply how brutally life has hollowed him out.
Caan’s potential to convey delicacies of feeling wasn’t a singular reward, however, in his best roles, it labored contrapuntally together with his swaggering physicality and the implied roughness telegraphed by his Bronx-and-Queens-cultivated accent. He gave the impression of a troublesome, a delinquent, a foul, doubtlessly harmful man, even when his higher characters have been typically extra sophisticated. As Caan’s repute grew (he was a longtime favourite of this paper’s movie critics) and a spread of roles opened as much as him, he performed to and towards sort and expectation, turning into one of many defining faces of New Hollywood.
It could come as a shock simply how large Caan was within the Seventies, significantly when you’re actually solely conversant in “The Godfather.” Two years after Coppola’s movie blew up, in an essay on “The Final Element” that consecrated Jack Nicholson as a significant star, The Instances’s Vincent Canby additionally named Caan as one of many period’s different younger notables alongside Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Caan’s frequent co-star, Robert Duvall. There are totally different causes Caan’s repute dimmed within the ensuing a long time; for one factor, whereas Nicholson was solidifying his fame as a sailor in “The Final Element,” Caan was repping the Navy in “Cinderella Liberty” (1973).
I like “Cinderella Liberty,” but it surely hasn’t been canonized like “The Final Element,” written by Robert Towne and directed by Hal Ashby. However “Cinderella” deserves love, partly as a result of Caan is terrific in it as a sailor who, throughout an unplanned depart, all of the sudden turns into concerned with a good-time broad (a wonderful Marsha Mason). They’re unfastened and humorous and attractive, and collectively create a uncooked, unpredictable, memorable romance. Given how aggressively male-dominated so many Seventies classics have been, it’s price remembering that Caan was good with girls in additional methods than have been hinted at in “The Godfather.”
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