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James Caan Dies at 82 - How to Stream His Best Films

Ben Bowman

James Caan was one of cinema’s great “macho” guys. Immortalized as the hotheaded Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather,” Caan would often bring that menace to other roles. That power got flipped on its head when he played the wounded, bed-bound writer in the 1990 thriller “Misery.”

Jon Favreau tells a great story about how he prodded Caan during the filming of “Elf.” When Caan wasn’t delivering enough in a needed scene, Favreau walked up to him and whispered, “You’re James f—-ing Caan.” Favreau stepped back behind the camera and Caan raised his game.

What’s also notable is how close Caan came to starring in some major hits. He turned down roles in “MASH,” “The French Connection,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Blade Runner,” “Love Story,” and “Superman.”

Here’s how to watch the best films of this one-of-a-kind actor.

The Best of James Caan

  • The Godfather

    March 14, 1972

    Spanning the years 1945 to 1955, a chronicle of the fictional Italian-American Corleone crime family. When organized crime family patriarch, Vito Corleone barely survives an attempt on his life, his youngest son, Michael steps in to take care of the would-be killers, launching a campaign of bloody revenge.

  • Elf

    October 9, 2003

    When young Buddy falls into Santa’s gift sack on Christmas Eve, he’s transported back to the North Pole and raised as a toy-making elf by Santa’s helpers. But as he grows into adulthood, he can’t shake the nagging feeling that he doesn’t belong. Buddy (Will Ferrell) vows to visit Manhattan and find his real dad, a workaholic publisher (James Caan).

    If you love this holiday treat, check out Netflix’s “Movies That Made Us” to learn more about the making of this modern classic.

  • Misery

    November 30, 1990

    Novelist Paul Sheldon crashes his car on a snowy Colorado road. He is found by Annie Wilkes, the “number one fan” of Paul’s heroine Misery Chastaine. Annie is also dangerously unstable, and Paul finds himself crippled, drugged, and at her mercy.

  • Brian's Song

    June 22, 1979

    Based on the real-life relationship between teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and the bond established when Piccolo discovers that he is dying.

  • The Gambler

    October 2, 1974

    New York City English professor Axel Freed outwardly seems like an upstanding citizen. But privately Freed is in the clutches of a severe gambling addiction that threatens to destroy him.

  • Funny Lady

    March 15, 1975

    Famous singer Fanny Brice has divorced her first husband Nicky Arnstein. During the Great Depression she has trouble finding work as an artist, but meets Billy Rose, a newcomer who writes lyrics and owns a nightclub.

  • Rollerball

    June 25, 1975

    In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

  • Bottle Rocket

    February 21, 1996

    Upon his release from a mental hospital following a nervous breakdown, the directionless Anthony joins his friend Dignan, who seems far less sane than the former. Dignan has hatched a hair-brained scheme for an as-yet-unspecified crime spree that somehow involves his former boss, the (supposedly) legendary Mr. Henry.

  • Mickey Blue Eyes

    August 16, 1999

    An English auctioneer proposes to the daughter of a mafia kingpin, only to realize that certain “favors” would be asked of him.

  • Alien Nation

    October 7, 1988

    A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine.

  • The Killer Elite

    December 19, 1975

    Mike Locken is one of the principle members of a group of freelance spies. A significant portion of their work is for the C.I.A. and while on a case for them one of his friends turns on him and shoots him in the elbow and knee. His assignment, to protect someone, goes down in flames. He is nearly crippled, but with braces is able to again become mobile. For revenge as much as anything else, Mike goes after his ex-friend.

  • A Bridge Too Far

    June 15, 1977

    Operation Market Garden, September 1944. The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines.

  • Thief

    March 27, 1981

    Frank is an expert professional safecracker, specialized in high-profile diamond heists. He plans to use his ill-gotten income to retire from crime and build a nice life for himself complete with a home, wife and kids. To accelerate the process, he signs on with a top gangster for a big score.


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