In acting circles, the late John Cazale was a respected character actor even before he played Fredo in The Godfather and its first sequel and Stan in The Deer Hunter.
Adam Yauch’s Oscilloscope has acquired the lauded 39-minute HBO Cazale documentary I Knew It Was You for North American DVD distribution. Directed by Richard Shepherd, the film examines the life of the under-appreciated actor who worked with the likes of Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, who are interviewed in the film, along with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Rockwell and Brett Ratner, one of the film’s producers. Streep, Cazale’s fiance, threatened to quit The Deer Hunder when the producers didn’t want to hire Cazale, who was dying of cancer during the filming. De Niro paid to insure him for the film when nobody else would.
The film aims to bring overdue recognition to Cazale, who despite his short resume of five best-picture nominees (he died before the release of The Deer Hunter) had a major influence on those who knew and worked with him. Pacino says in the documentary, “I learned more about acting from John than anybody.” Enough said.
The film was produced by Ratner and Stacey Reiss, premiered at Sundance 2009 and aired on HBO on June 1, 2010. Its DVD release is set for the pre-holiday season this year. Here’s the trailer: