Produced by Brett Ratner and directed by Richard Shepard, I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale is a 40-minute HBO documentary on John Cazale that every one of those fans should see.
Featuring extensive movie clips of Cazale’s best moments, and packed with fantastic interview segments, I Knew It Was You (the title is a line from The Godfather Part 2, of course) is a long overdue retrospective on one of the best actors of the 1970s — and while the short film will undoubtedly appeal to those who already know and love Mr. Cazale, it also works as an excellent introduction to a performer that every film fan should get to know. Those interviewed include directors Francis Ford Coppola and Sidney Lumet, and co-workers of Cazale like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss, John Savage, Olympia Dukakis, Carol Kane, and his former fiancee, the wonderful Meryl Streep. (I guess Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino was not interested in participating, which is sort of a shame.)
Also on board is film historian Mark Harris, who offers some great insights, as well as “current” actors like Sam Rockwell, Steve Buscemi, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, all of whom have some very specific praise for John Cazale’s acting chops. Throw in a few touching thoughts from John’s brother and some personal friends, combined with a fast-paced but informative look at Cazale’s early life and his theater work, and the result is a superlative little documentary that wouldn’t be more effective at twice the running time. It’s a sweet, sincere, and entirely fascinating look at an actor we should all miss from time to time.
By Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg)
Al Pacino talks about his acting partner, John Cazale: “I learned more about acting from John than anybody.”