Along with his thick neck and trapezoidal torso, Caan appeared just like the athlete he performs, however little in regards to the efficiency in “The Rain Folks” is clear. It’s a heavy function — Killer is the story’s sacrificial lamb — but Caan, working with Coppola, imbues the half with a refined, persuasive innocence that doesn’t patronize the character or sanctify his incapacity. As an actor, Caan actually may go large and externalize a personality’s internal workings (he does rather a lot 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 capacity 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 tricky, a delinquent, a foul, probably harmful man, even when his higher characters had been typically extra sophisticated. As Caan’s fame 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 kind and expectation, turning into one of many defining faces of New Hollywood.
It might come as a shock simply how large Caan was within the Nineteen Seventies, notably in the event 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 Occasions’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 fame 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 really like “Cinderella Liberty,” nevertheless it 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 go away, abruptly 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 Nineteen Seventies classics had been, it’s value remembering that Caan was good with ladies in additional methods than had been hinted at in “The Godfather.”