The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.
When the aging head of a famous crime family decides to transfer his position to one of his subalterns, a series of unfortunate events start happening to the family, and a war begins between all the well-known families leading to insolence, deportation, murder and revenge, and ends with the favorable successor being finally chosen. Written by
J. S. Golden
In the scene where Vito is being returned home via ambulance, a pale yellow 1947 Lincoln Convertible is also shown. It is supposed to be 1945 "almost 1946" according to Hagan. See more »
I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion. I gave her freedom but I taught her never to dishonor her family. She found a "boy friend," not an Italian. She went to the movies with him. She stayed out late. I didn't protest. Two months ago he took her for a drive, with another boy friend. They made her drink whiskey and then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her. Like an animal...
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Although Mario Puzo is given possessory credit at the beginning, and is credited as a screenwriter at the end, no credit is given to him on-screen as author of the original novel, even though that credit is given on the poster. This credit does appear in the second film, however. See more »
I am not a big fan of the sequels even the second is a big step down from this one. What a cast? Like an earlier reviewer said; REWATCHABLE!! Yes, I am Italian, not a Sicilian, and I have seen it hundreds of times. What a cast: Brando, Pacino, Caan, Duvall. Even the supporting cast is excellent with the film noir legend Richard Conte as Barzini. Puzo wrote such a rich, deep script. The characters suck you in and are so lifelike. Each brother is radically different from the other. Fredo, the mama's boy, the useless one who Michael kills off in the second one. Sonny, the human volcano, with a temper that has to be seen to be believed. Michael, the quiet and deadly one most like Vito but colder more ruthless. Michael was always outside the family looking in; he was held in contempt by the rest as the soft college boy who didn't want to get his hands dirty. This is the answer to the riddle of how he could kill Fredo, his own brother, later in the second one. Notice where he sits at the wedding, as far away from the family as he can get.
Events suck Michael into their world but he never is really in the family. We see his cruelty by the end of the movie as he slaughters the heads of the five families and his own sister's husband Carlo who fingered Sonny. The key scene for understanding Michael is the baby's baptism; watch the juxtaposition of the images with the words the priest is saying. As he renounces Satan he performs the very actions he is renouncing. Coppola was so good at using images to contradict words; it is really his signature. Pacino becomes the very image of Satan as he murders all those people while standing reciting the holy words of baptism renouncing the very deeds as he is performing them. What a work of art!! Only Francis Coppola could do this.
The film, to be fair to its critics, does gloss over the mafia a bit. We do not see old store owners shaken down with blow torches waved in front of their faces. I do think Puzo and Coppola do show the awful cost of the evil. Even here, Michael slowly transforms from a diffident outcast at the back of the family to a ruthless Don. It appears here that he is like Vito but that illusion is dispelled by his ruthlessness far exceeding Vito's. Michael because he was an outcast simply does not feel the bonds of family as Vito did. There is a coldness about him; he is like an iceberg. The movie is three hours long but it moves very quickly. The only parts that drag are the scenes of michael's exile in Sicily. It really is the story of the brothers and how radically different their fates are; Fredo is sent to Vegas where he becomes a weakling fop beaten up by Moe Greene, Sonny's temper ends up killing him like you always knew it would. Michael gets sucked in; there is always great resentment in Michael for the destiny he never wanted.
The second film shows Michael's estrangement from the family deepening. It culminates in him killing Fredo for putting him at risk. I always think it is important to see Michael as Puzo and Coppola paint him: a loner who protects himself ruthlessly. He really could care less about the family; he is all about power and control. Vito, for all his evil, cared and loved his family very deeply. Look, Fredo almost got him killed when Sollozo's men attacked, he fumbled and dropped his gun. Vito did not kill him; Michael was not so forgiving. It is a true masterpiece. I LOVE IT
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