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The Museum of the Moving Image is about to honor a Hollywood star who grew up about 10 blocks from its main venue.

The James Caan Film Festival will present 12 blockbuster hits starring the Sunnyside-raised actor between May 19 and May 28.

After coming of age in an apartment building near 41st Street and Skillman Avenue in the 1950s, Caan got his first movie roll in 1963. Since then, the P.S. 150 graduate has played tough guys, big talkers, charmers, and heartless killers in more than 70 movies, winning countless awards and garnering a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Good-looking and athletic, he has defined masculinity while obtaining the nicknames “Shoulders,” “Killer Caan,” and even “The Jewish Cowboy.”

All the movies in this celebration were selected as per a survey of Caan’s greatest performances, and most are presented in 35mm. They include collaborations with such legendary directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Howard Hawks, and Rob Reiner and such accomplished actors as John Wayne, Nicolas Cage, and Anne Bancroft. Here’s the schedule.

  • Thief (May 19 at 7 p.m. and May 27 at 2 p.m.) is about a Chicago man who wants to quit his life of crime after one final heist. However, his friend has other plans.
  • El Dorado (May 20 at 1:30 p.m.) stars John Wayne as a gunslinger who teams up with an alcoholic sheriff to defend a Western town against a greedy rancher and his hired guns. It’s Caan’s first major role.
  • The Rain People (May 20, 4:30 p.m.) has Caan as a football stud who hitches a ride with a young married woman who is fleeing adulthood and responsibilities. Sensual tension ensues.
  • Cinderella Liberty (May 20, 7 p.m.) is about a sailor on a land respite in Seattle. He falls in love with a part-time prostitute who lives with her precious young son. The sailor seeks stability, while the woman’s life and psyche unravel.
  • Brian’s Song (May 21, 2 p.m.) brought Caan his first big amount of fame. He plays a Chicago Bears running back with a terminal illness. His rival on the team becomes his best friend.
  • The Killer Elite (May 21 at 7 p.m.) is a conspiracy thriller. Caan plays an agent for a private security firm affiliated with the CIA. After being double-crossed and critically shot by his partner, he has to save a Chinese anti-communist from marauding ninjas.
  • Rollerball (May 26 at 7 p.m.) is a dystopia in which the world’s most popular sport is a roller derby death match.
  • Misery (March 27, 4:30 p.m.) is an adaptation of a Stephen King novel in which Caan is a famous author rescued from a snowy car crash by a fan. After nursing him to health, the fan becomes sadistically unwilling to let him go.
  • The Yards (May 27 at 7 p.m.) is set in Caan’s childhood neighborhood, Sunnyside, and depicts New York City’s working class strivers and schemers.
  • Slither (May 28 at 2 p.m.) is a road-trip action comedy. Caan is a car thief trying to go legit after a stretch in prison. His friend dies in his arms after tipping him off about a large stash of stolen cash.
  • Honeymoon in Vegas (May 28 at 4 p.m.) is a comedy with Caan as a corrupt, middle-aged tycoon who hustles a weekend away with a beautiful young woman as collateral for her commitment-phobic boyfriend’s gambling debt.
  • Bottle Rocket (May 28 at 6:30 p.m.) is a comedy about three aimless friends who scheme up low-level burglaries looking for fame and notoriety.

Tickets are $15.

Top image of “Rollerball” courtesy of Park Circus/MGM


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