We came home for lunch one day this week and stumbled across HBO's documentary "I Thought It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale." Very, very good.
You most likely recognize Cazale as Fredo from The Godfather movies. What we didn't realize until the documentary, was how incredibly short, yet unbelievable, Cazale's movie career was. He only made 5 movies before dying of cancer at the age of 42. But man, if you're only gonna get 5 in, he picked a hell-of-a-five to do:
-The Godfather II
-Dog Day Afternoon
-The Deer Hunter
We never knew Cazale was Meryl Streep's fiance until watching this film. After watching, it's hard not to wonder, had he lived, if Cazale and Streep would not now be considered the First Couple of Acting. Dog Day was Cazale's last film. In fact, he died before it was released. In the documentary, Streep talks about, while he's never admitted it, that she believes De Niro personally secured the bond on the then uninsurable Cazale so he could be in the film. That pretty much sums up what his fellow actors thought of Cazale.
In fact, after watching the film, it was hard for us not to wonder how much of Pacino's success had to do with Cazale. For it was his movies with Cazale that have made Al's legacy. Pacino has said, "All I wanted to do was work with John for the rest of my life. He was my acting partner."
Although Cazale never received an Academy Award nomination, ALL FIVE of his films were nominated for Best Picture and THREE of them won. In all, his films garnered 40 Academy Award nominations. At only 40 minutes, the doc flew by, leaving us wanting more. A feeling we suppose is common when it comes to Cazale.
Check HBO's schedule to see when you can catch it.