I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale (2009)
Directed by Richard Shepard
How do you make an impact in Hollywood in less than a decade? John Cazale did, with just five feature films in just over 6 years. Director Richard Shepard has mainly worked in television, winning an Emmy for his work on Ugly Betty. For this film he took on something far more challenging. This 2009 documentary takes a bold and beautiful look at this amazingly talented actor. Along the way the film is blessed with some wonderful footage and great interviews.
John Cazale is best known for his portrayal of Fredo in the classic trilogy The Godfather. During his career he starred opposite Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon, Gene Hackman in The Conversation, and Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter. Those are just some of the big names he starred with, but John Cazale is not a footnote in these films. He was more than a supporting actor with a receding hairline. He was more than the sidekick or the other son. In these movies he seemed to carry the weight of the emotional content on his shoulders. This created a depth from which the other stars seemed to pull from in their own work.
The true beauty of this documentary comes with the interviews done with Al Pacino and Meryl Streep. These interviews are emotional for the actors as they discuss not only his acting career, but also their friendships and relationships. I was particularly impressed the Streep, who seemed very open about the relationship she had with Cazale, something she’s not been willing to do previously.
This is a wonderful short documentary, filled with great insights and a powerful story. If you’re familiar with John Cazale this will be a great look into who he really was. If not, you’ve probably seen his work and now you can learn more about his life and career. If you get this on disk, make sure to watch the extended interviews and bonus content. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.