DVD review: "I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale"
“He became whoever it was he was playing,” Pacino testifies. “… He got so much from the delving into things. It was a lesson in itself. I think I learned more about acting from John than anybody.”
Boston-born Cazale was already an award-winning New York stage actor when he made his feature film debut in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” in 1972 as Fredo, the weak link in the Corleone crime family, impressing the director enough to cast him in the haunting 1974 crime drama “The Conversation” and expand the role of Fredo in “The Godfather Part II” that same year.
The title of the documentary, of course, comes the infamous and unforgettable scene in “Godfather II” when younger brother Michael Corleone (Pacino) hisses “I knew it was you, Fredo!” as he plants the kiss of death on Fredo’s face.
Pacino persuaded director Sidney Lumet to cast Cazale in a role written for a 19-year-old in 1975′s “Dog Day Afternoon,” and director Michael Cimino, knowing the actor had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, cast him in 1978′s “The Deer Hunter” against the wishes of the studio, which was fearful Cazale might die before filming was completed. He was that much in demand by that time, but his life and film career were cut tragically short when he passed at age 42 in March 1978.
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