Why The First Film James Caan Directed Was Also His Last


In an interview with the New York Times from back in 1981, Caan talked briefly about his directorial efforts, and had plenty to say about the people who couldn’t get on board with his vision. “Sometimes, of course, you work hard, get rave reviews, and the rewards are not forthcoming,” he said. ”I spent two years of my life doing it, and some jerk at United Artists — who’s been fired, thank God — said, ‘This picture isn’t commercial.’ Well, it wasn’t. There were no sharks.” Caan is of course referring to the boom in “Jaws” films and “Jaws” rip-offs following Spielberg’s smash-hit, which made studios desperate to capture the magic once again.

”Plus I had to listen to speeches like, ‘I’ve been watching rushes for 40 years, and you have to do so and so.’ ”I’d say, ‘everything’s changed in 40 years. Peanut butter’s changed in 40 years. What are you telling me?’ ”I mean, the guy put music into my film when I wasn’t there. I said, ‘I don’t want music, I’m shooting a cinema verite kind of thing, so why the hell is the Fifth Symphony coming out of the candy store, all of a sudden?'”

Caan declared that he would never direct again because, “everybody wants to do ‘Rocky Nine’ and ‘Airport 96’ and ‘Jaws Seven’ and you look and you listen, and what little idealism you have left slowly dwindles,” and he stayed true to his word. Caan never snagged a seat in the director’s chair, and we were left with a mediocre action drama that clearly wasn’t in line with his original vision following producer input.

May his memory be a blessing.