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still from Misery (Rob Reiner, US 1990)

Misery – in memoriam James Caan

In memoriam James Caan: Misery

After a break in the 1980s, James Caan made his comeback in the adaptation of Stephen King’s thriller Misery. Renowned author Paul Sheldon is held hostage by a fan. Caan died on 6 July 2022 aged 82.

poster Misery (Rob Reiner, US 1990)

Author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) became rich and famous for writing a series of Victorian romance novels revolving around the Misery Chastain character. He now wishes to write more serious, literary work. En route to his writer’s retreat he finds himself in a severe snowstorm, crashes and is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in an Oscar-winning role), one of his most fanatical fans, who completely takes over the author’s life.

Oscar nomination Misery marked the return of James Caan (1940 – 1982) the actor who became famous as Sonny Corleone, eldest son of mafia don Vito Corleone in The Godfather. Although Sonny, the irascible older brother of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) died in a hail of bullets, Caan was nominated for the Oscar for Best Male Supporting Actor.

James Caan was always associated with his role in Coppola’s mafia flick, but was in actual fact a multitalented actor with self-deprecating humour who could just as easily star in B-films like Freebie and the Bean (1974), Eraser (1996) or Viva Las Nowhere (2001).

Physically imposing Born in Brooklyn to a Jewish family, Caan studied economics, played American football and garnered attention for his role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People (1969). Caan played the ‘past it’ football player ‘Killer’, a role that suited Caan’s tough, physical appearance and its underlying anger and aggression down to the ground.

With leading roles in Rollerball (1975, Norman Jewison), Thief (1981, Michael Mann) and supporting roles in spectacles including A Bridge Too Far (1977, Richard Attenborough) and Elf (Jon Favreau, 2003), Caan proved to be an actor at home in almost every genre from action to comedy and from science fiction to suspense.


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Rob Reiner

Production year



114 min.







still from Misery (Rob Reiner, US 1990)
still from Misery (Rob Reiner, US 1990)
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