John H Cazale ♦ 12th August 1935 – 13th March 1978

A sincere tribute ought to celebrate an artist’s life or career for the right reasons. It should come from the critic’s heart and not only salute a performer’s work when the opportunity arises in some key date, like an actor’s birthday or the anniversary of one of his films.

THE GODFATHER, James Caan, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, John Cazale, 1972It is perfectly plausible that many (perhaps, most) people wouldn’t have a clue about who John Cazale was – or is, since his movies are still with us, and will be for any forseeable future. Why celebrate Cazale’s career at all? And why now? After all, there are not significant anniversaries related to his life or the five films he made.

The Godfather (1972), Francis Ford Coppola

The Conversation (1974), Francis Ford Coppola

The Godfather – Part II (1974), Francis Ford Coppola

Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Sidney Lumet

The Deer Hunter (1978), Michael Cimino


john-cazale-the-conversationThe reason lies with these five 1970s American masterpieces, all nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Picture. The tapestry of themes (immigration, crime, technology, surveillance, gambling, greed, gender, family, friendship, the Vietnam War) recurring on those classic movies explain America like no history book can.

..Critics’ Picks: The Conversation © The New York Times.

john-cazale-the-godfather-part-iiIt is an indisputable fact that the more films an actor makes the greater the chance of bad movies. However, such truism does not – must not, in fact – contradict the notion that what really matters is not the ratio of good films to bad ones he or she has, but how good and important are the ones that count. Naturally, an artist must be judged by their ability to produce works of art worthy of preservation.

..What an Entrance!… What a Presence! ♦ Dog Day Afternoon Credits.

john-cazale-dog-day-afternoonIf the artist in question is Meryl Streep, Al Pacino or Robert De Niro – all very much capable of immortalizing complex characters through subtle and nuanced performances, then it is immaterial how many movies they make, because a handful of films are enough to place them in the pantheon. John Cazale as a great among greats had the distinction of a perfect career.

Like the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was also fearless in his choice of roles, Cazale was one of the greatest character actors of all time. Always pushing the leading actors to further depths, Cazale’s perfectionist approach to acting and presence ought to become landmarks in the history of the medium. As mentioned by his friends in the short documentary about his career, I Knew It Was You, Cazale had a valuable vulnerability about him. He wasn’t afraid to show us fear, anxiety, insecurity, weirdness – universal weaknesses that embarrasses most of us.

..∗ There is no intention to breach copyright with the film’s exposure in the blog, as it is presented here exclusively for educational purposes. ∗


john-cazale-the-deer-hunterNothing left to say but thank you Fredo, Stan, Sal and Stan because this is this and this ain’t something else. You can handle things! You’re smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… Maybe see you in Wyoming! The last words have to come from the person closest to him to the very end, the three-time winner of the Academy Awards, Meryl Streep: ‘He was such a special human being and a uniquely talented actor.’


February 2017. ooooo ooooo ooooo ooooo ooooo ooooo ooooo Ricardo Pizzeghello.