It’s kind of interesting to find out how many people in show business never really graduated from college even if they attended, but James Caan apparently fell in love with acting at one point and decided that this was the life he wanted. As he’s said though a lot of his improv ended in violence, which isn’t too hard to believe really since he’s had a lot of violence-prone roles in the movies. After all he’s been one of the noted tough guys of the big screen for a long time now and despite being almost into his 80s he was still seen as kind of a tough guy in the movie That’s My Boy with Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. This seems to have been his thing for a long time now and he’s pretty good at playing a hotheaded character given that he has the right growling voice and size for it since he’s not so physically imposing he towers over people but he’s not insanely short either.
Here are the five best movies from his career.
Vincent Canby of The New York Times covered the story on this movie quite a while back and went on to describe how Rollerball had become a solution to war as the issues of the world had finally settled on a game that was insanely violent and could and did result in fatalities after a while. The downside of course is that the game also sought to stifle the need for individualism since the corporations that owned the teams were bent on domination at nearly ever level. Jonathan was meant to retire, to just take the payout and disappear after a while, but instead he chose to fight, and in a no holds barred final game he was the last man standing when the first and only goal was scored.
4. Funny Lady
It makes a big difference when someone doesn’t want to be doing what they’re doing and in this movie, a sequel to Funny Girl, Barbara Streisand initially didn’t want to step back into the role and pretty much threatened that it would take litigation to get her back since she was already under contract to make one more movie. When she read the script however it became evident that she liked what she saw and wanted to do it. The part of Billy Rose saw a lot of auditions come and go and a lot of people caught wind of a good number of names that could have played the part. In the end though Caan got the nod and the rest, as they say, is history.
3. The Gambler
It’s amazing how well one can hide a gambling addiction, at least until the loan sharks come calling and there’s nowhere you can hide from them. Axel seems like a well-adjusted individual on the outside, someone that his family and students think of as a good person and someone they can rely on. But when it’s revealed that he has a serious gambling addiction and that he simply can’t stop it makes his family and his girlfriend question him in a big way that makes a person wonder how anyone sticks with someone that can blow thousands on a game of chance as though it’s not that big of a deal.
There is a certain danger when it comes to simply killing off your best character as some fans tend to go above and beyond when it comes to the love they show for a favorite series. Calling Annie Wilkes psychotic is being kind since the woman freaks out when she reads that Misery Chastain, Paul’s main character, has been killed off, and proceeds to torment Paul until he agrees to write Misery back to life. Despite being as crazy as a loon Annie is also extremely cautious and does whatever she can to keep Paul sequestered in the guest room of her home, at least until she drops her guard and Paul manages to end her by smashing a typewriter on her head.
1. The Godfather
Sonny would never have made a good Don, that much is a fact. He’s just too hotheaded and isn’t about to listen to reason when his blood is up, and it actually takes an unconventional suggestion from his younger brother Michael to get him to back down for a moment. As it turns out though it might have been better had Michael stayed in the states and kept his hands clean, since the slow but steady dissolution of the Corleone family started from the moment Michael picked up a gun and joined the family business. Sonny’s death scene was something of a shock to some folks, but in retrospect it couldn’t have ended any other way for him.
James Caan is a living legend, without question.