Category Archives: James Caan

Blu-Ray News #311: The Killer Elite (1975).

Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Starring James Caan, Robert Duvall, Arthur Hill, Bo Hopkins, Mako, Gig Young, Burt Young

Imprint is bringing Sam Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite (1975) to Blu-Ray in December. It’s not prime Peckinpah, thanks to the set being thoroughly dusted with cocaine, but James Caan and Robert Duvall are excellent (come to think of it, the whole cast is) and the action scenes bear Sam’s touch. Philip Lathrop’s cinematography really shows off San Francisco (it doesn’t look like that anymore, sadly).

The picture’s a bit confusing at times, as one double-cross after another piles up. But I’ve always liked it, and I wish Sam and Caan had worked again under better circumstances.

While the American Blu-Ray from Twilight Time included Sam’s Noon Wine (1967) done for television, this one promises an alternate cut of The Killer Elite. Since the unravelling of many of Peckinpah’s films almost always included mishaps in editing, it’s always interesting to see various cuts. Of course, Imprint is loading the set up with plenty of other extras, from commentaries and documentaries to still galleries and Jerry Fielding’s score isolated.

Don’t let my listing of the picture’s problems dissuade you (my big word of the day). As a Peckinpah nut and huge fan of Caan’s 70s work, it’s easy to recommend this one.

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Filed under 1975, Bo Hopkins, DVD/Blu-ray News, Imprint Films, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sam Peckinpah, United Artists

RIP, Paul Sorvino.

Paul Anthony Sorvino
(April 13, 1939 – July 25, 2022)

Paul Sorvino has passed away 83. He was a terrific actor, widely known for Goodfellas (1990) and Law And Order.

He was wonderful in William Friedkin’s The Brink’s Job (1978, that’s him with Peter Falk), one of the most criminally-overlooked films of the 70s, as I see it. He shined in an ensemble cast that included Peter Falk, Warren Oates, Gena Rowlands, Peter Boyle and Allen Garfield.

But he was always good. Take a look at The Gambler (1974) with James Caan, Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) and The Rocketeer (1991). And he was a hoot as Lips in Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990).

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Filed under 1978, James Caan, Peter Falk, Warren Oates, William Friedkin

RIP, James Caan.

James Edward Caan
March 26, 1940 – July 6, 2022

James Caan is without doubt one of my favorite actors. From Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1966) to Thief (1981), he cranked out one terrific movie after another. He passed away yesterday at 82.

To me, James Caan pretty much OWNED 70s cinema. The Godfather (1972). The Gambler (1974). Freebie And The Bean (1974). Rollerball (1975, above). The Killer Elite (1975). Harry And Walter Go To New York (1976). A Bridge Too Far (1977). And the largely-forgotten Slither (1973), still one of my all-time favorite films. He was great, and so intense, in action pictures, but he had a real flair for goofy, subtle comedy stuff, too.

In more recent years, Caan had a wonderful Twitter account, often sharing a photo from, or thought about, one of his pictures. I’m gonna miss you, Mr. Caan.

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Filed under 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, Howard Hawks, Howard Zieff, James Caan

RIP, Bo Hopkins.

William Mauldin “Bo” Hopkins
(February 2, 1938 – May 28, 2022)


Bo Hopkins has passed away at 84. He’s one of my favorite 70s character actors, thanks to pictures like The Wild Bunch (1969), The Getaway (1972), American Graffiti (1973), White Lightning (1973) and The Killer Elite (1975, with James Caan, above). He was also terrific on The Rockford Files.

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Filed under Bo Hopkins, James Caan, Sam Peckinpah

RIP, Sally Kellerman.

Sally Clare Kellerman 
(June 2, 1937 – February 24, 2022) 

Sally Kellerman, who most folks remember as Hot Lips Houlihan in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H (1970), has passed away at 84.

She’s hysterical in one of my all-time favorite films, Slither (1973, above) with James Caan and Peter Boyle. If you haven’t seen it, by all means do. It’s a perfectly goofy 70s movie, and she pretty much steals the picture as Kitty Kopetzky.

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Filed under 1973, James Caan, Robert Altman

Blu-Ray News #335: Rollerball (1975).

Produced and directed by Norman Jewison
Starring James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn, Sir Ralph Richardson

I love Rollerball (1975). It’s one of my favorite science fiction films of the 70s, coming from the glorious period when James Cann was knocking one movie out of the park after another. (That’s just my opinion, mind you.)

It’s one of those pessimistic future things where the world is run by corporations and people’s pent-up anger is channelled into the sport rollerball, a deadly combination of hockey, football, motocross and roller derby. When Houston’s Jonathan E (James Caan) becomes a superstar with more power than the corporations are comfortable with, they try all sorts of tricks to encourage him to retire — including rule changes to make rollerball more dangerous than ever. But that makes people love Jonathan even more. (The world being lorded over by giant corporations used to be science fiction, but it’s getting less science fiction-y by the day.)

James Caan and the Houston rollerball team.

It’s also one of those have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too movies that pushed its anti-violence message by being really, really violent. Here, it kinda works. And man, it sure is rough along the way.

Caan is terrific, John Houseman is really creepy, Sir Ralph Richardson has a short, very weird scene, but the great Moses Gunn almost steals the movie as Caan’s trainer and friend. They say the actors and stunt men had a good time shooting the rollerball scenes and actually continued playing between takes!

Rollerball is coming to Blu-Ray from Scorpion Releasing later this month, and I’m really excited about it. It’ll have a killer lineup of interviews, commentaries, trailers, etc. But the star player will be a new 4K restoration, something I think the film richly deserves. (My old DVD was terrible.) Highly, highly recommended. Jonathan! Jonathan! Jonathan!

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Filed under 1975, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Caan, Norman Jewison, Scorpion Releasing, United Artists

RIP, Allen Garfield.

Allen Garfield
(born Allen Goorwitz; November 22, 1939 – April 7, 2020)

COVID-19 has claimed a great character actor, Mr. Allen Garfield.

He’s in some key 70s films, like Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) and Altman’s Nashville (1975), along with The Candidate (1972), Friedkin’s The Brinks Job (1978) and The Stunt Man (1980). And he’s got a great part in one of my all-time favorites, Slither (1973, above).

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Filed under 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, Francis Ford Coppola, James Caan, Richard Rush, Robert Altman, William Friedkin

RIP, Paul Koslo.

Paul Koslo
(June 27, 1944 – January 9, 2019)

I just learned that one of my favorite character actors of the 70s, Paul Koslo, passed away back in January. He’s in so much great stuff: The Omega Man (1971), Joe Kidd (1972), Mr. Majestyk (1974, above), Freebie And The Bean (1974), The Drowning Pool (1975) and Rooster Cogburn (1975), to name just a few. How many actors could say they locked horns with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Paul Newman and James Caan?

Every movie he was in was better for his presence.

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Filed under 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, Alan Arkin, Charles Bronson, Charlton Heston, Clint Eastwood, James Caan, Paul Newman

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 (1974) 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…”

James Caan with a VW Thing doubling as a Kubelwagen.

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