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 massive and externalize a personality’s interior workings (he does quite a bit 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 means to convey delicacies of feeling wasn’t a singular reward, however, in his most interesting roles, it labored contrapuntally along with his swaggering physicality and the implied roughness telegraphed by his Bronx-and-Queens-cultivated accent. He appeared like a troublesome, a delinquent, a foul, probably harmful man, even when his higher characters had been generally extra difficult. As Caan’s popularity 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, turning into one of the defining faces of New Hollywood.
It might come as a shock simply how massive Caan was within the Seventies, significantly if you happen to’re actually solely aware of “The Godfather.” Two years after Coppola’s movie blew up, in an essay on “The Last Detail” that consecrated Jack Nicholson as a serious 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 popularity 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,” but it surely 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 depart, immediately turns into concerned with a good-time broad (a wonderful Marsha Mason). They’re unfastened and humorous and horny, and collectively create a uncooked, unpredictable, memorable romance. Given how aggressively male-dominated so many 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.”