John Cazale was cinema's ultimate "other guy." He was never the lead, never the star attraction, but if you're a fan of naturalistic, empathetic acting, you could not take your eyes off him when he was onscreen. Between 1972 and 1978 he appeared in a string of five films, and each of them was nominated for a best picture Oscar — and then he died at age 42, a victim of cancer. That's him as the weak-willed and fatally flawed Fredo in both installments of The Godfather, and that's him again assisting Gene Hackman in The Conversation, and there he is again breaking your heart with his sweetly slow-witted portrayal of Sal in Dog Day Afternoon. Director Richard Shepard interviewed Cazale's friends (Hackman, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino) and lovers (Meryl Streep) to create a tribute to the man some thought was the greatest actor of his generation. I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale screens as part of the Webster Film Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 16, in Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu /filmseries). All five of Cazale's films will screen in the next six weeks, in chronological order; The Godfather plays this Friday through Sunday (December 17 through 19) at 7 p.m. The documentary is also screened every Thursday in January at the same time and place. Admission is $5 to $6.
Thu., Dec. 16, 2010