All of a sudden this documentary is the movie that I absolutely have to see at Sundance or afterwards.
(John) Cazale had a brief, meteoric career, dying of cancer at 42 in early 1978, before “The Deer Hunter” made it to theaters. A solitary artist who honed his craft in off-Broadway stage productions, Cazale was the kind of intense perfectionist who’d probably be making his living in Sundance films. So it’s appropriate that the first documentary about the actor is premiering at Sundance this Friday (at 8:30 a.m. at the Library Center Theater) in the U.S. Documentary Shorts competition category. Directed by Richard Shepard, the writer-director of “The Matador” and “The Hunting Party,” it’s called “I Knew It Was You,” after a memorable line of dialogue from “Godfather II.” The film is a must-see, if only to soak up Cazale’s devotion to his craft, as well as watch interviews Shepard did with nearly all of the actor’s most important collaborators, notably Pacino, De Niro, Hackman, Francis Coppola, Sidney Lumet and Meryl Streep, who fell in love with Cazale after playing opposite him in a 1976 production of “Measure for Measure” and took her part in “The Deer Hunter” largely to be near Cazale, who by then was already battling cancer.