Sunday, July 28, 2013


Continuing the discussion of Entertainment Weekly's Top 100 Films of All Time, we turn to the #2 film on the list which is, of course, THE GODFATHER.
Now, The Godfather is one of those almost perfect films.  It excels in all facets of its production and I would have no argument with calling it the greatest film of all time.
I'm currently reading a book called Five Families by Selwyn Raab about the history of the Mafia and it really brings home to me how good and authentic The Godfather really is.
But its more than that.
The Godfather is a film about a Mafia family and about a family in the Mafia and that's what makes it so profound from a story aspect.
And when you add that it is superbly directed, acted, shot, and scored, The Godfather emerges as a superior film that has to be seen to be believed.
However, I was recently perusing through a book in B&N called The Greatest Movies Ever by Gail Kim & Jim Piazza and they rank The Godfather as the greatest movie of all time...
they also rank The Godfather Pt 2 as the greatest movie of all time.  Both movies at the #1 position on their list.
Uh.. NO.
First of all, you can't do that when making a best of list.  You can't put two movies as your #1 movie of all time.  That's at best indecisive and at worst cowardly.
When making a best of list, you have to make decisions and the biggest decision of any such list is your choice for the #1 position.
And secondly, what is this fascination with The Godfather Pt 2?  To me, it is a vastly inferior film when compared to The Godfather.  I've seen this film many times and although it features a great performance from Al Pacino, I think it just doesn't measure up.
My main complaint about the movie is that it doesn't make sense.
We all know that Fredo betrayed Michael but what exactly did he do?  Did he open the curtains in Michael's bedroom?  Did he let the shooters onto the estate?  Did he kill the shooters after they bungled the assassination attempt?  What did he do?  There is that scene where Fredo's wife freaks out and goes yelling hysterically into the night and is admonished by Fredo but what did she see or hear?  Its never explained in the movie.  All we find out is that Fredo knew Johnny Ola who worked for Hymen Roth and if you are not paying close attention, you will miss that little tidbit of information as its said in a very off-hand way. 
Not too mention all the lies that Michael tells everyone which further confuses the viewer.  He tells Tom one story, Pentagelli another, Fredo another, and Hymen Roth another.  Its all very confusing. 
And then you have the whole Pentangelli story which is sorta confusing with the appearance of the Rosatto brothers who claim to strangle him on orders from Michael ("Michael Corleone says hello") but they're not working for Michael (by the way this episode in the movie is based on a real event that took place in the late 60's in the Columbo family war known as The Gallo War as the Gallo brothers tried to seize control of the family and were discovered garotting a rival in a bar by a cop who was passing by).
Also, the whole flashback story about young Vito Corleone, while interesting, doesn't match up with the present-day story that is happening to Michael.  The two stories don't connect up and there are some mysteries in the flashback story also.  The biggest one is the scene where Fanucci gets his throat cut by two hoods in an alley which is witnessed by Vito.  Now, I've read the book, The Godfather, so I know what's going on in this scene because the reader is privy to Vito's thoughts, but in the movie, we have no idea what's going on and its never mentioned again in the movie.  That's sloppy film-making.
And lastly, the end of the movie (where everyone is killed) is not as effective as in the first movie (and sending Rocco to kill Roth in an airport, only to be killed himself doesn't really smack of a triumphant endeavor or a smart move on Michael's part to sacrifice his most important capo) and by this time, we are definitely not cheering for Michael as we are in The Godfather.
In The Godfather, we are firmly in Michael's corner and even though he reveals himself to be ruthless, because of the script, we identify with him and view him as the hero and savior of his Mafia family but at the cost of his personal family as exemplified by his lying to Kate and the closing of the study door in the final scene of the movie.  Pure brilliance.
A great movie on every level.

P.S.  If you are wanting more Godfather stuff, I would recomend reading the original novel by Mario Puzo although in one of the few cases, the movie is actually better than the book.  Also, you might want to check out the two continuation novels by Mark Winegardner, The Godfather Returns and The Godfather's Revenge which continue and expound upon both the original novel and both movies.

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