Sunday, 28 October 2012

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1974: John Cazale in The Godfather Part II

John Cazale did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Fredo Corleone in The Godfather Part II.

In the Godfather Saga every actor who played a son of Vito, even his step son, received an Oscar nomination except for John Cazale who played Fredo. Just like in the group of brothers Cazale is the forgotten and mistreated brother, he is not considered smart like Michael, or tough like Sonny, he is seen more like a nothing. This is unbelievable though as Cazale is good in the first film even if his part that is rather limited, but he takes what he did in the film and is amazing in Part II.

It is quite strange that Cazale was completely forgotten for this film as there most certainly was a Godfather love fest by the academy, and it received three nominations in Supporting Actor. Where they honestly more impressed by Michael V. Gazzo in the same film, that seem very unlikely. Was it that he also gave a good, but less substantial performance in the Conversation the problem. Well the way his performance was in that best picture nominated film would only help his chances for this film. His snub is a true head scratcher.

In his early moments Cazale suggest the pathetic nature of Fredo, as he is unable to control the woman who has come with him, establishing his weakness. There is also perhaps a bit of naivety that Cazale has in his interactions with Michael in these early scenes. Cazale shows that Fredo really has  failed to fully grasp how much really Michael has changed, and views him as far somewhat still as his kid brother, and no longer as the cold man he has become.

One thing great about Cazale is he is never afraid to show that Fredo really is stupid. He certainly never overplays this lack of intelligence, but brings it to life without fault. In fact Cazale shows Fredo's lack of intelligence as the sad truth behind his downfall. In his phone call at night suggesting what Fredo did to Michael, Cazale is excellent portraying his complete lack of understanding of the situation as well, but as well as bringing to life the piercing guilt and fear over what he has done.

Cazale's strongest moments though all come when he directly interacts with Michael. Firstly in his small moment where he talks to Michael, and attempts to hide his guilt in an attempted hit against Michael, well showing what is a genuine love for Michael he does has as well. Cazale though shows that Fredo really is a jumble of emotions, and cannot really properly control them at any time, such as in this scene where he tries to really talk to Michael, but is unable to get over what he done either.

His single best scene though is when he finally describes to Michael why he did what he did. Fredo did not do it for anything truly malicious, but Cazale honestly portrays he wanted something something for himself, and to be able to have something that would allow him to be something other than the forgettable dumb brother. Cazale is completely heartbreaking in this scene becuase he does not show his anger toward Michael from any ambition of an evil man, but just from a sad child who wanted more.

This a truly tragic depiction of a character, and it certainly is one of the most powerful ever portrayed. Cazale gives a flawless performance here, that is only ever is genuine. His performance stays honest as he never does seem to try to steal the spotlight as Fredo, as that would be incorrect to the character, yet he manages to do it in his own quiet and very moving fashion. This is simply one of the greatest most poignant supporting performances ever given, and the fact he was nominated is one of the biggest mistake in the Academy's history.

11 comments:

Maciej said...

Poor Cazale. He starred only in Oscar-nominated pictures but was snubbed on every occasion.

RatedRStar said...

great actor, maybe because he wasnt considered a heart throb ( I think he is kinda sweet looking in a gothic rockstar way) or perhaps because he is a low key actor which might have been why he was never nominated, in which case what did you make of him in The Conversation.

RatedRStar said...

what rating would he have got.

Louis Morgan said...

He is good like always in the Conversation. The role of Stan is rather limited, but he plays it as well as anyone could. I would give him at least a 3.5.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Cazale was phenomanal. As for The Conversation, my favorite supporting performance in that film was actually Harrison Ford, who despite his small screen time, was appropriately intimadating and slimy.

Louis Morgan said...

I agree Ford was very good.

RatedRStar said...

speaking of slimy small performances Louis, what did you make of your best actor king (F. Murray Abraham) in his small role in Serpico.

RatedRStar said...

he didnt get too much to do in Serpico but I thought his reaction of Pacino being shot was a great shot.

Louis Morgan said...

Oh he was better than anyone could have possibly have been in that role.

RatedRStar said...

Is there any performances at all that F. Murray could be considered for? because it would be nice to see him crop up on this blog again rather than just his only awesome work in Amadeus.

Louis Morgan said...

Unfortunately I am not aware of any, I really wish he'd get a plum role again.