Movie Review: The Godfather Part 2 (1974) -- Classic Movies

The Godfather Part II (1974)
Original broadcast dates of this review: January 6-13, 1975
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PLEASE NOTE: This review may contain spoilers.

Movie director Francis Ford Coppola would have been a great painter. Since he decided to make his mark in film, his canvases turned out to be the screens in our movie theaters. (Now, we can view his work via DVD in our homes.) Coppola has literally painted this film epic in umbers, ochres, and deep pinkish tones. It’s “The Godfather, Part Two,” one of the best films I’ve ever seen.
In my opinion, this is a unique sequel, because it’s better than the original film. “The Godfather, Part Two” interweaves two stories. One involves the young Vito Corleone, played at an older age by Marlon Brando. First, we see him as a boy in Italy and subsequently as a young man in New York. The second story concerns Michael Corleone, Vito’s youngest son, the Godfather in 1958. The performance of Robert DeNiro crystallizes author Mario Puzo’s descriptions from the novel. Marlon Brando was bigger in star stature than the original role demanded, but he brought in the people for the first film. Now, DeNiro and Al Pacino render the story more human and understandable.
Director Coppola tells the two stores in alternation. In the first epoch, we see nine-year-old Vito’s early days in Sicily. A town feud ends with the violent death of his father, mother and older brother. Friends send Vito away in the night. He makes his way alone by boat to a new life in America.
Coppola captures the feeling of the early 1900s in New York City’s Italian district. It’s a thoroughly moving experience. In the modern story, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone faces his life as the new head of the family. He’s involved in gambling deals in the State of Nevada. Michael is a tragic character caught in a mix of revulsion and necessity. Michael’s life is a series of deals. The criminal part of his existence takes place in shadowy sequences. These are set amid the bright exterior glitter of the world of gambling. Michael’s role as husband and father are pressed into the background.
Finally, his wife leaves him. She admits that she aborted his second son rather than continue the bloodbath that began in Sicily. At the fade, Michael is alone with his dread and his double-deals. Al Pacino’s low-key performance is just a whisper. “The Godfather Part Two” is a giant of a movie. It runs three hours and twenty minutes. It is fascinating and unusual filmmaking. This is Ellen Kimball on Entertainment for WEEI Radio in Boston.
Thursday, November 26, 2009