THE WRATH OF CAAN

That’s Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, screaming out his rage and frustration at his nemesis, Kahn Noonian Singh, played wonderfully by Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

But isn’t it also true that the Wrath of Khan and the wrath of James Caan, the actor, and all or most of Mr. Caan’s characters, stand as equals in the arena of rage and acrimony and violent entitlement?

In Star Trek II, Khan’s thirst for revenge against Captain Kirk, who exiled him to a planet out in the boonies, Ceta Alpha V, that could barely support life (at least in the movie version) knows no boundaries.  And when the chance finally arrives for him to seize vengeance, he does so with a ruthlessness for which Genghis Khan, the ancient warlord from whom he adopted his title, would no doubt squeeze out one or two proud tears.

I suppose it doesn’t matter that the initial crime of attempting to take over The Enterprise (among other things) got him there. Or that he, at least in the TV version, was even given a choice, and chose the planet himself. Those in dire need of court-appointed lifetime anger management courses never remember that part, do they?

Among some of the most famous and some of my favorite lines encapsulating James Caan’s career as an often criminal, sometimes just fiercely individualistic bad boy, but always, always angry, straight-talking tough guy are:

Frank:  My money in 24 hours, or you will wear your ass for a hat.

Cassandra: Tell me the truth. Have you ever… made it with one of us?

Detective Sykes: No… unless I got drunk and somebody didn’t tell me.

Cassandra: Mmm. A virgin! I find that very arousing. You sure you haven’t?

Detective Sykes: Um… there’s lots of things I haven’t done; that’s not real high on my list. No… you know… don’t take it personally. I’m a bigot.

Sonny: What’s the matter with you, huh? What am I going to do? Am I going to make that baby an orphan before he’s born?

The Big Man: Shoot them and burn down the town.

Daphne: You better do as you’re told, Jonathan. That’s all I have to say.

Jonathan: Are you threatening me?

People even invited Mr. Caan to share his now-famous tough guy persona in later years in several comedies. In this one, he’s a priest who used to be a boxer who takes offense to Adam Samberg and is about to kick the crap out of him:

Father McNally: My father…beat me every day with a rake. But you don’t hear me smack-talking him here in the house of the Lord.

And one of my absolutely favorite roles of his…ever. A hilarious holiday movie you should not miss!

Walter: I don’t care where you go. I don’t care that you’re an elf. I don’t care that you’re nuts. I don’t care that you’re my son. Get out of my life. Now!

Hey, even a cheerful, naive elf who comes out of nowhere, claiming he lives with Santa Claus at the North Pole and is also Walter’s (30-something) son, doesn’t escape the gruff attitude of one of Hollywood’s most beloved, brazen and macho individuals to grace the silver screen.

Even with all that, another line from Roller Ball summarizes, for me, the aura of James Caan’s persona. Though he and Khan share powerful wraths, a line of temperance often runs beneath James’ story lines:

Frank: It’s like people had a choice a long time ago between having all them nice things or freedom. Of course, they chose comfort.

Though his characters vibrate with anger, resentment, and charming thuggery, a little bit of this Roller Ball credo always seems to be tucked into every role he brings to life: the (generally) down-to-earth guy who sometimes gets pushed to the limit by circumstances, will always tell you the truth and will fight for the underdog and for what he believes to be true, regardless of his potential doom. CAAANNNN !

I know I’ve left out a bunch of his roles. Feel free to list any of your favorites.

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29 thoughts on “THE WRATH OF CAAN

    • Hahaha. Where the hell did YOU come from?! Thanks for the reference. Completely forgot about that one! God, there’s so many……

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  1. My top three James Caan movies are – 1. MISERY (1990) 2. THE RAIN PEOPLE (1969) and 3. BULLETPROOF (1996).
    In this clip, you know James Caan is about to take things up a notch when the glorious toupee comes off at the one minute 15 second mark. The “Step into my office chump” line at 53 seconds isn’t bad either.

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    • Aw, yeah. I was too young when Brian’s Song came out and then somehow never saw it later. Weird. But it’s a real nostalgic favorite of lots of folks…

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  2. Hi there! Everyone’s bringing up movies I never saw. Such a wealth of them. I’m glad he’s still active and didn’t decide, like Daniel Day Lewis, “I’m done.” Still have a grudge against Mr. Lewis for depriving us of us of his talent forevermore, lol !!

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  3. I remember him, but its quite a long time I haven’t seeing him on a movie, I am just looking at his Wiki page, and his last film is from 2021, surprisingly for me, since he is 82 by now!
    I should see more movies, but hardly do now.
    Nice post Stacy.

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    • Well, I think you should see more movies, B.H., but only because I love them so much. My love of movies has nothing to do with your ambivalence toward movies, lol. Thanks for looking that up! I’m a terrible James Caan host: I didn’t even know about a movie in 2021.

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      • It’s not that I don’t like movies, as a child and a young man I lived on the old theaters watching movies, I used to collect the tickets stubs, and save them just to count them every year, at one year I remember had 272 tickets! And on my day Friday to Sunday they will show two new releases, at town we had five different theaters, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, they will had old movies, and instead of two features will be three movies! Plus Sunday matinees, you got no idea how many movies I saw, from American, to Italian, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, UK, Australian, and anybody who would do a movie it will land at our theaters, from Argentina, India, Brazil, most of the times at school, instead of going home early in the afternoon we will end at the old theaters, tickets were very inexpensive, like .40 cents a piece. Today its that my time even if retired it’s full with things I got to do, and take care, like my blog, and books, family, taking care of home, cooking, shop, and all the little things, that are part of my routine, in my life, needless to say I go to bed late, even if I do not sleep but six hours, at most. But yes I watch a movie once in a while in HBO, Netflix or even YouTube.🤷‍♂️

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      • Yeah, I gotcha, B.H. That makes perfect sense. Life intrudes and many of the things we used to do for pleasure fall away due to time constraints. BTW–I consider myself a movie fan, but you COMPLETELY outdid me, going by your reporting here. There was no way I ever saw over 200 movies in one year! Not even close. Or such variety, I might add. Like, especially growing up, I don’t remember films from other countries even being OFFERED where I lived in the San Fernando Valley. Maybe they were…? But I wasn’t attuned to them…? So, props! As far as movie-watching goes. Seems like you’ve seen enough to last a lifetime. So now if you see them once in a while, good enough. Hey, if you can find it, one movie that’s probably worth your time for those rare moments you now have to see them is Don’t Look Up with Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lawrence. Very funny, ironic, and sadly true. 🙂

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  4. Yeah, famously stated like Cher and Celine Dion, he’s like, “I’m retired.” I think the Phantom Thread was DDL’s last one. Which was very weird, but enjoyable.
    Thank YOU for stopping by. Hope you and yours are well!

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  5. Yes, I did watch movies to last me a lifetime, I got a little divorced from seeing movies for a period of seven years, when I worked at Hotel resorts, with no movies around simply by the fact there were no towns around with movie theaters, or TV for that matter, since I needed a shortwave radio, to be in contact with civilization, and videos and CD, did not even existed, yes I am that old.
    Until I returned to civilization and went back to theaters, then moved to LA, and lived near the Vista theater right at the Y where Sunset and Hollywood Blvd., and I had near me, also those theaters in Hollywood near me, then come video rentals, but by that time, and later when I got Netflix by mail, I will arrive home so exhausted from work that most movies will put me to sleep, and would not even finish them!
    Well now I got you to recommend me good movies, and do not waste time with bad ones!😉

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  6. Well, I’m pretty much that old, too, B.H., so we’re in the same boat, lol.
    Hey, during what years were you living near Sunset and Hollywood? Were you there between 1991 and 1996? ‘Cause were living off of Highland and Franklin then and were ALWAYS walking over to the movie theaters in that area. We probably passed one another at some point!

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  7. Possibly, I arrived to LA in1986, and lived near there, just half a block North from Santa Monica blvd. And then moved to Altadena and lived there until 89, then moved to Pacific Palisades with one of my Exes, for about five years, but move back to Los Angeles after we broke up, at an apartment in Lexington Ave north of Santa Monica blvd near Hollywood, for a couple of years, then moved a few blocks from the Vista theater, until I left LA in May 2016 for good after retiring, gentrification got me out, too expensive to live in LA today. I miss it, but I will have to go back to work, and that I don’t want to do.🙄

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    • Well, it sounds like you were near Santa Monica and Hollywood after the ’90s, like into the 2000s, so we were over the hill by then in the Valley and rarely came to Hollywood. We probably DID pass you, though, at least once, lol. It’s kind of funny to think about. “Do you know that that complete stranger passing in that car will one day become a kind of pen pal of yours?” “Yeah, right, when pigs fly!” Truth is stranger than fiction, lol. And I hear you about gentrification. We’ve been a victim of it too!

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  8. Ironically, we did not met in Los Angeles, but here online reading each other’s blogs, in a way computers were a game changer, and shortened distances, with people around the World, I got a flag counter and just today I have readers from 21 countries all over the World, and the five continents from Australia to Latvia, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, and many other countries,, but as usual, the US, and India toping the numbers, strange 12 from Croatia! it’s a small world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s AMAZING, B.H., all of your readers. That’s really impressive! Even 12 from Croatia, huh? It IS a small world. And the best part is you’re dishing out good vibes and love, not anger and bad mojo. 🙂

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  9. I am reader since young age, but writing a novel, or a big project like writing a book, not inclined yet to, so my blog my only valve to be creative, is to write small pieces, from whatever comes to my mind.
    Thank you for your kind opinion.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I didn’t hear jack sh** on the news yesterday about this. I know he’s “just a celebrity,” but, man…
    he left us a lot of movies and a lot of memories. And 82 ain’t all that old either. Booooooo.
    Thanks for the heads up, Glen.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ll have to see that in honor of his passing…which I only found out about through Glen of Scenic Writer’s Shack, because apparently his death barely made a blip in the news. 😦

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