Requiem for a Heavyweight

The extraordinary stage actor John Cazale made just five movies, but all were nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards. It wasn’t a coincidence; he was eminently capable of hanging with heavyweights. A longtime pal and peer of Al Pacino, Cazale’s hangdog performance as the weak brother, Fredo, in The Godfather so impressed Francis Ford Coppola that the director expanded the character’s role in the sequel (to heartbreaking effect), and cast the actor as Gene Hackman’s assistant in The Conversation. Cazale was already gravely ill with bone cancer when he shot The Deer Hunter with fiancée Meryl Streep, and was just 42 when he died a few months before its 1978 release. Tonight’s tribute brings filmmaker Richard Shepard (The Matador) to town with his interview-packed short, I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale, followed by a rare screening of the raw, riotous, and riveting Cazale-Pacino collaboration Dog Day Afternoon. Sure, movie stars drive ticket sales and magazines and late-night talk shows, but character actors are essential to great movies.
Thu., April 16, 7 p.m., 2009

 
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