I just watched a documentary on John Cazale the other day. This man only made 5 movies. 3 of them won Best Picture (The Godfather 1 AND 2 and The Deer Hunter), while the other two (The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon) were both nominated. Years later, archival footage of Cazale was inserted into Best Pic-nominee The Godfather: Part III. No other has ever managed this feat. And Cazale did this without ever earning an Oscar nomination himself (though he WAS nominated for a Golden Globe for his supporting turn in Dog Day Afternoon).
Much of the love for Meryl Streep (his former fiance and Deer Hunter co-star) came from when she spent day after day with Cazale in the hospital up until the day he died. What a wonderful lady.
Anyway, what is your favorite Cazale PERFORMANCE? Not film….performance, rather. I think his best performance was in The Godfather: Part 2, with Dog Day Afternoon coming in at a close 2nd. The best FILM he ever did was certainly THE DEER HUNTER. yah yah yah…I know…it’s not the holy grail that is The Godfather. That was a good film…a bit slow, though…and don’t get me started on The Godfather: Part 2. Yah, the performances were great (even though I still don’t really like what De Niro did in the film…), but the editing was atrocious (not nominated for Oscar) and the staging behind that flashback scene with the murder of the mobster and a young Vito running away was patantly obvious and wooden.
Anyway, have at it.
Cazale was a very effective, memorable character actor. I couldn’t possibly single out one of his performances as “best.” I’d say they are all equally accomplished.
I couldn’t even pick one film as his “best.”
Is that particularly unhelpful? Well, Cazale only appeared in five feature films–but they are all classics that hold up well to repeat viewings. He didn’t appear in any bad movies at all, unlike many of his contemporaries who are still working today.
Also watched the Cazale documentary (I Knew It Was You), very touching and definitely worth checking out (and only 39 minutes in length).
Quite a shame that this talented actor was never nominated for an Oscar, despite his great contributions to cinema, and even more of a shame what other great roles we missed out on.
For me, his best performance would have to be his role as Sal in Dog Day Afternoon.
John Cazale was one of the best character actors ever, and despite having five classic films on his resume, I can’t imagine what great work we could’ve gotten from him had he not been taken away from us so quickly.
It is hard to choose one great performance. He should’ve received a nomination for DOG DAY AFTERNOON and he would’ve fought for my vote along with another snubbed character actor that year: Robert Shaw in JAWS.
So I’ll vote for his work in DOG DAY AFTERNOON.