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The Great James Caan Is Gone, His Incredible Work Goes On

July 9, 2022

Alas almost all of us do not run crime “families,” or get “misery” personified, as two characters portrayed by the great James Caan, who died at age 82 days back, did in the two films, that begin most of his obituaries.

I state right off “The Godfather,” and “The Godfather: Part II,” do not need my seal of approval to be an all-time film, but gets it anyway.

Yet with Caan and in my case above, it is “The Gambler,” hardly mentioned in most talk after Mr. Caan died, that moved me the most.

Again we do not often face or live the extreme, but we all have to/ought to both look in the mirror and also find out what makes us do what we do, especially if it involves an addiction, as dangerous as compulsive gambling.

James Caan with help from a brilliant cast (Jacqueline Brookes who taught acting– an aside where is Evan Press and Mr. Caan might ask who is he and what is he doing in a remembrance of me?!–pulled off the need to find out “why you are doing it,” in extraordinary fashion, playing his “toweled off,” mother, who gives him the 44? K, dealing with a rude bank worker played by pre fame, James Woods along the way) gave a seminal performance, his look in the mirror a resounding, extraordinary finale that will always stay with me and has helped.

Of course one remembers and cites the first two Godfather pictures, his flashback, special appearance, complete with “your country is not your family,” (I add especially when it is about oil)–near “II’s” end, perhaps the most meaningful. (Please do not think I forgot “this man is taking it personally, to Al Pacino’s “Michael” as the latter intends and eventually does shoot the corrupt police captain, played so well by Sterling Hayden).

Caan gave us so much. I note “Chapter Two,” essentially playing the writer of it and so much else (I will add my post after Mr. Simon died at the bottom) Neil Simon having repartee, before a “blind” date with essentially actress, Marcia Mason, played by Marcia Mason.

Caan’s character lamented in the form of oh—-, Mason’s asked why, “The Yankees left a runner on third,” she capped it “now I really will not sleep.”

In capping it, and there is so much more, James Caan gave us and left us so much great work. He rarely left anyone on third or any base, as he drove in and to us so many great performances.


James Caan, pictured above.

Caan is cited in my remembrance of Neil Simon, below.

Remembering Neil Simon

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