If there’s one conversation I never grow tired of having, it’s the one about John Cazale’s cinematic straight flush. He acted in only five films under the direction of only three directors in his short career, before succumbing to cancer at age 42. His films were among the greatest made in what is easily my favorite decade of American cinema: The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972), The Conversation (Coppola, 1974), The Godfather Part II (Coppola, 1974), Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975) and The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino, 1978). All five were nominated for Best Picture Oscars, with The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and The Deer Hunter taking home the trophies. Though he starred in none of these films, he played a pivotal role in each.
Much has been said about him, but due to the short filmography, there are still so many questions left lurking in the minds of film lovers. Those are starting to get answered, as there was a great piece written about him in New York Magazine last year and I’ve just heard that Oscilloscope Laboratories just procured the rights to a new documentary directed by Richard Shepard called I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale (2010). Keep your eyes peeled for that as it hits art houses near you in the near future.