Category Archives: James Caan

Blu-Ray News #138: Freebie And The Bean (1974).

Directed by Richard Rush
Starring Alan Arkin, James Caan, Loretta Swit, Jack Kruschen, Mike Kellin, Paul Koslo, Linda Marsh, Alex Rocco, Valerie Harper

Warner Archive has announced Freebie And The Bean (1974) for an upcoming Blu-Ray release. Some will probably ask why.

This highly un-PC movie, which switches from violent action flick to comedy almost frame by frame, divides film fans more than about movie I can think of (those that even remember it). Many hate it for the reasons I just listed. Me, I love it — partly for those same things.

But there’s more to it than that. It’s a master class in vehicular stunts — they tear up a lot of cars in this thing, and it always looks like actual pedestrians are in real peril. It’s got both Alex Rocco and Paul Koslo in it. Alan Arkin is as good as ever, and James Caan was on a real roll at this time — The Godfather (1972), Slither (1973, a personal favorite), The Gambler (1974), The Godfather: Part II (1972) and Rollerball (1975).

Laszlo Kovacs (behind camera) shooting Arkin and Caan on a construction crane.

What’s more, the Blu-Ray will give us a chance to really appreciate Laszlo Kovacs’ Panavision San Francisco photography, which takes us to places you don’t see in more scenic SF films like Vertigo (1958), Bullitt (1968) and What’s Up, Doc? (1972). It’s a great-looking, gritty movie. And, in my opinion, it’s a thousand times better than the cop/buddy movies that came later, like those Lethal Weapon things. I can’t wait to see it in high definition.

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Filed under 1974, Alan Arkin, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Caan, Laszlo Kovacs, Richard Rush, Warner Archive

Making Movies: A Bridge Too Far (1977).

Bridge Too Far HS

I was lucky enough to attend a special screening of A Bridge Too Far (1977) here in Raleigh, North Carolina, when it first opened. I was 13. The guy James Caan played, Staff Sergeant Dohun, was there — and he was not happy that Caan dropped an F Bomb in one scene.

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Plastic commandoes ready to litter the bridge.

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Watching and waiting — something that happened in both 1944 and 1977.

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(Sir) Michael Caine (as John Ormsby Evelyn ‘JOE’ Vandeleur) and director (Sir) Richard Attenborough.

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Shooting the harrowing sequence where Robert Redford (as Major Julian Cook) and his men cross the river in flimsy assault boats. “Hail Mary, full of grace…”

I’ve always had a soft spot for A Bridge Too Far. It’s one of the last truly epic war movies, with a few jaw-dropping scenes here and there. And it was a huge moviegoing experience for me. Cornelius Ryan’s book is terrific, too.

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Filed under 1977, Gene Hackman, James Caan, Making Movies, Michael Caine, Richard Attenborough, Robert Redford, Sean Connery

RIP, Alex Rocco.

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Alex Rocco
February 29, 1936 – July 18, 2015

Alex Rocco is one of my favorite 70s character actors, appearing in a couple pictures I really love: Slither (1973) and Freebie And The Bean (1974). Of course, he was also Moe Green in The Godfather (1972). He passed away on Saturday.

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Rocco only has one scene in Freebie (both images here), as a DA who tells James Caan and Alan Arkin they don’t have enough evidence (and that they’re idiots), but he’s hysterical — and Caan and Arkin have to work hard to keep up. I love those goofy 70s comedies.

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Filed under 1972, 1973, 1974, Alan Arkin, James Caan

Blu-Ray News #22: 1941 (1979).

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Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring (in more or less the order I could remember them) Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Elisha Cook, Jr., Dub Taylor, Dan Aykroyd, Robert Stack, Ned Beatty, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eddie Deezen, Nancy Allen, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Dick Miller, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Susan Backlinie, Lionel Stander, Sam Fuller, Bobby Di Cicco, Perry Lang, John Landis, Penny Marshall, Treat Williams, Wendie Jo Sperber, Lucille Bensen, James Caan

Is there a movie you like more because everyone else seems to hate it? For me, that’s Steven Spielberg’s 1941 (1979), a movie I dearly love and will lift up till the day I die. But saying that, I also understand, and even agree with, many of the complaints about it. Sure it’s big, it’s loud, it’s stupid, it’s disrespectful — and those are all completely positive things in my book.

It’s also coming to Blu-ray in May as a stand-alone disc (it was already part of a snazzy Spielberg set) — with both the two-hour theatrical cut and the longer, expanded thing. I’ve always preferred the theatrical version — I feel it has a better rhythm to it, even though it offers less Slim Pickens, Dick Miller, etc. Speaking of those guys, how could a movie that boasts Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Elisha Cook, Jr., Dub Taylor, Dick Miller, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee and Toshiro Mifune not be a treasure?

1941 is also the movie that made me really realize there was some guy named John Milius that I needed to learn more about.

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Filed under 1979, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Caan, John Milius, Steven Spielberg, Warren Oates

DVR Alert: Tonight On TCM.

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Three great 70s road movies, tonight on Turner Classic Movies.

Howard Zieff’s Slither (1973, below) remains one of my favorites films. Richard B. Shull has a great couple scenes before the credits.

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Filed under 1971, 1973, Gene Hackman, Howard Zieff, James Caan, Steven Spielberg, TCM