James Caan, the legendary Hollywood actor, died at the age of 82, but we must not forget the legacy he left behind. Kahn had a special talent for portraying emotionless and introverted men. He was a violent, angry and reckless actor who always stood gracefully and impressed the audience with his penetrating gaze. With curly blonde-brown hair and a charming face, you couldn't ignore him in any scene, Kahn was constantly turning heads. "The Godfather" not only cemented Kahn's status as a first-rate actor, but also placed him among the legendary actors of cinema history. Kahn played the role of Sonny Corleone, the hot-tempered and boisterous son of the family.
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Vito Corleone controlled everyone with his quiet speech, Michael was a sullen intellectual, Fredo was considered an insolent person who is the disgrace of the family and "Thomas Hagen" was considered the mastermind of the family. But Sunny? He would roll his eyes, lose control of his emotions, scream and sometimes act crazy. He said whatever came to his mind, he had a relationship with anyone he wanted, and when his enemies wanted to punish him so that it would be a lesson for others, it did not seem so difficult to make him angry. Sonny beat up Carlo Rizzi in one of the most realistic fight sequences in history. He wanted to scold Carlo for his behavior with Connie, and when it happened again, the dim-witted and moody Sonny never thought it was all a hoax.
You may not know that James Caan was originally hired to play Michael Corleone (the executives at Paramount liked him and They believed that "Al Pacino" is too short for this role). Can't even imagine that now, Kahn as Michael? It's like asking a German Shepherd to impersonate a Labrador Retriever. Fortunately, this wrong decision did not lead to Kahn becoming Sunny and he gave his all for this role. Kahn's role playing in The Godfather is so lasting that while watching him, you might think that Sonny is Kahn, he is playing his own role.
But in fact it is not. If you want to know how much of Sonny's characterization is the result of Kahn's efforts and imagination, you have to watch him in the drama that aired a year before The Godfather and reached more than 30 million viewers: "Brian's Song." He plays Brian Piccolo, a Chicago Bears quarterback who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and Billy Dee Williams plays his friend and teammate, Gil Sears. The story of this TV movie was not only about the fight against a dangerous disease, but also about the friendship between blacks and whites, so it is an important work like "In the Heat of the Night" from a cultural perspective. Kahn made Brian Piccolo a symbol of openness, a man who instinctively fights against the discrimination of the world around him.
James Caan's exaggerated behavior in the movies, which originated from his whimsy and warmth, was always energizing and attractive. He could excel in any short or long sequence. Just look at a few minutes of his performance in The Gambler, which was released two years after The Godfather (produced by Carl Reisz and loosely adapted from the famous short novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky). He plays the role of a university professor who becomes addicted to gambling; A man who is used to taking risks is as if he is at war with himself. "Axel Fried" is undoubtedly considered one of Kahn's most exciting roles.
He tried to find his identity as an actor in the 70s. He went to the path of romantic works and played the role of a sad sailor in "Azadi Cinderella" opposite "Marsha Mason". Then he appeared in another romantic-comedy movie called "The Funny Girl" alongside "Barbara Streisand". But the roles of "tough man" still call him: in "Deception and Between" he played the role of a hard-headed policeman, in "Special Killer" he was an assassin who is betrayed, in "Rollerball" he became a dystopian gladiator and In "Hidden Point" there was a divorced man who becomes a law enforcement officer on his own.
Most of these were flashy B-movies that were made better thanks to James Caan's performance. His resurgence should be considered "Thief" (1981), the first production of "Michael Mann" and one of the brilliant films of his artistic career. The film has a unique style and a modern take on the noir genre, but what sets it apart from its peers is Kahn's performance as a criminal seeking redemption. In the thief, he is not only a correct impression of It presents masculinity but also criticizes it at the same time. If we put aside the godfather, "Frank" is perhaps his best performance. Briefly Stepped into Blockbuster Valley, a gothic-comedy adaptation of the Stephen King novel in which he played a romance writer who is held captive by one of his crazed fans (played by the unforgettable Kathy Bates). . The film was a critique of celebrity culture in which Kathy Bates takes center stage with her hostile but polite demeanor, but it's James Caan who helps make the film a powerful drama with his calm and witty reactions. After that, he played a number of aging criminals, from The Manor to The Fence and Dogville. Even in an unorthodox comedy like "Elf", which the newer generations know him for, he was a serious person in the story; Will Ferrell's one-toothed and inconsistent father.
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Let's go back to his amazing performance in The Godfather; The film presented a clear and detailed picture of gangsters, but in fact, of all the characters in the story who may be close to a real gangster, it is Sonny Corleone who is the closest to the real examples. Despite this, our interest in this character is not due to his violence and stubbornness, but because of his awesomeness and generosity. According to "Francis Ford Coppola", the reason for the long sequence of Sonny's murder was that they had to be extreme in order to remove such a character from the story. And even then the viewers were hesitant, it seemed unbelievable that a man with this amount of fire and authority in his being was killed. In 1994, he pulled a gun on a rapper and was arrested. With the end of "New Hollywood" he fell away from the top, he made sometimes forgettable films and never won a major award, but even in his worst work he offers a wide range of human emotions and is sometimes startling. From now on, watching any of his past films will be a bitter reminder that we lost another outstanding actor in the history of cinema.