Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image to host film festival in honor of late actor James Caan

Queens remembers late actor and Sunnyside resident James Caan
James Caan, whose roles included “The Godfather,” “Brian’s Song” and “Misery,” died Wednesday, July 6, 2022, at age 82. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

The Museum of the Moving Image’s Caan Film Festival will return in September to celebrate the life, career and legacy of late actor James Caan.

The festival will run from Friday, Sept. 16, to Sunday, Oct. 9, and will revisit the most iconic performances of Caan’s six-decade career such as “The Godfather,” “El Dorado,” “Games,” “The Gambler,” “Harry and Walter Go to New York,” “Cinderella Liberty,” “The Killer Elite,” “Thief” and “Elf.”

This is the fourth edition of the festival and the museum has chosen to honor the New York native, who died on July 6, over the course of four weekends.

Eric Hynes, one of the organizers of the festival, said that the museum felt it was important to honor Caan’s life and work.

“We had planned to wait a year before launching another edition, but James Caan sadly passed away earlier this summer, and we didn’t want to wait until next year to honor his life and work,” Hynes said.

Caan was a son of Jewish immigrants and the Bronx-born, Sunnyside-raised actor could have taken over the family’s meat delivery business, but instead, he played football at Michigan State before studying acting under Sanford Meisner during the explosion of New York talent in the early 1960s.

James Caan in “The Gambler” (1974). (Photo courtesy of the Museum of the Moving Image)

Cann appeared in films and on television throughout the decade but his big break came from his role in John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in Howard Hawks’ “El Dorado” in 1966. The actor auditioned for the part of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” but he was instead cast as his brother Sonny. This performance would net his only Oscar nomination.

Hynes said that the turnout should be strong because of a re-ignited interest in Caan’s career since his passing.

“I think turnout will be strong — as it’s been each time we’ve presented this series — but especially in light of the fact that fans of his work are eager to revisit the films since his passing, and younger folks are newly interested in his career. We’re also presenting most films in 35mm, making each screening that much more essential,” Hynes said.

One of the last films Caan starred in as the commanding patriarch was James Gray’s “The Yards” in 2000. The film was fittingly set in the actor’s hometown of Sunnyside, Queens, which is situated less than a mile from the Museum of the Moving Image.

The full schedule is available online at movingimage.us/series/caanfilmfestival. Tickets are $15 with discounts for seniors, students and children under 17. Advance tickets are available online.