James Caan was at a peak of early career anticipation when he impressed everyone as an up-and-coming Paul Newman in Mark Rydell's 1973 Cinderella Liberty. Indeed, Caan's low-key, self-effacing performance was equally warm and self-involved, in a way that only '70s anti-heroes could be, both a little detached while making one care. In Cinderella Liberty he plays John Baggs Jr., a US Navy sailor who takes a brief leave in Seattle and "wins" Maggie (Marsha Mason), a prostitute, in a pool game, then turns down easy sex when he discovers she has an 11-year-old son (Kirk Calloway) at home and a baby on the way. Instead, John ends up marrying her, but has to fight to keep her when tragedy intervenes. The script is well-written by Darryl Ponicsan, who adapted his novel of the same title, and Caan's co-stars--Mason, Calloway, Eli Wallach, Burt Young--are quite strong. Rydell's direction of the cast is a little more assured than his sense of atmosphere, but his vision of the seamy side of Seattle in the early 1970s still looks, in cinematic terms, deservedly like a popular touchstone. Special features include a running commentary by Rydell. --Tom Keogh
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