With his thick neck and trapezoidal torso, Caan seemed just like the athlete he performs, however little in regards to the efficiency in “The Rain People” is apparent. It’s a heavy position — 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 definitely might go huge and externalize a personality’s inside workings (he does loads across the eyebrows), and Kilgannon has his outsize moments. Yet 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 present, 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 seemed like a troublesome, a delinquent, a nasty, doubtlessly harmful man, even when his higher characters had been generally 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 sort and expectation, changing into one of the defining faces of New Hollywood.
It could come as a shock simply how huge Caan was within the Nineteen Seventies, notably in case you’re actually solely accustomed to “The Godfather.” Two years after Coppola’s movie blew up, in an essay on “The Last Detail” that consecrated Jack Nicholson as a significant star, The Times’s Vincent Canby additionally named Caan as one of the 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 Last Detail,” Caan was repping the Navy in “Cinderella Liberty” (1973).
I like “Cinderella Liberty,” nevertheless it hasn’t been canonized like “The Last Detail,” written by Robert Towne and directed by Hal Ashby. But “Cinderella” deserves love, partly as a result of Caan is terrific in it as a sailor who, throughout an unplanned go away, out of the blue turns into concerned with a good-time broad (an excellent Marsha Mason). They’re free 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.”