James Caan, who turned breakout roles as Brian Piccolo in "Brian's Song" and as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather into a 50+ year career, died Wednesday night. He was 82.
- KC's View:
I think it is fair to say that Caan - who amassed more than 130 acting credits in his career - was a very good actor who made some legitimately terrific movies: The Gambler, Rollerball, The Killer Elite, Thief, and, of course, Misery. It also has to be said that while he played a lot of thugs and gangsters, he wasn't afraid to sing - Funny Lady and For The Boys - and tap dance - in Kiss Me Goodbye. And he even directed - once - a movie called Hide In Plain Sight, which I personally think is underrated. While as he got older, he got smaller parts in not-so-great movies, he was always good and sometimes even great when he got the right material.
One of my favorite late Caan performances is almost impossible to find - he played an aging Phillip Marlowe in Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Robert B. Parker's "Poodle Springs for HBO. (An example of a movie that was better than the book … a subject I explore below in "OffBeat.") Here's the (somewhat hyperbolic) trailer: