Movies At Random – The Godfather: Part II

“Hyman Roth always makes money for his partners. One by one, our old friends are gone. Death, natural or not, prison, deported. Hyman Roth is the only one left, because he always made money for his partners.”

Picture it. Sicily, 1901. After suffering the death of his father and his brother, young Vito Andolini watched his mother shot dead after she begged for young, “dumb-witted” Vito’s life to Don Ciccio.  The boy travels on a boat to New York City, and young Vito Andolini from Corleone becomes Vito Corleone.

The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo 

As acclaimed as the 1972 original is, the second part of the saga may be even better. Serving as both a sequel and a prequel to THE GODFATHER, the movie splits its time between young Vito Corleone’s rise to power in the early part of the 20th Century and his son Michael’s attempts to expand into Nevada, California and Cuba in the 1950s. Coppola’s continuation of the Corleone story is a compelling look at the lengths some men will take to rise to power, and what men will sacrifice to hold onto that power.

Years after he took over after the death of his father in the first movie, Michael is still dealing with the ramifications of taking out his enemies at the end of the first movie. His promise to his wife, Kay, that the Corleone family would finally go legit got harder to keep – or easier to ignore – with every decision Michael made. He couldn’t even trust his own blood to back him up. His sister, Connie, uses him for money, still smarting from Michael having her first husband killed. And Fredo? Fredo broke his heart by working with guys who were trying to have him killed.

It’s heartbreaking watching the Corleone family implode. Al Pacino’s performance as Michael, the subtle expressions betraying the difficulty he’s having keeping his cool in the wake of business and betrayal, carries the movie and keeps you invested in his struggles.

Just as vital to the film is Robert De Niro’s performance as a young Vito Corleone, finding his way through the Italian neighborhoods of New York City in a young 20th Century. De Niro brilliantly plays on Brando’s performance as the elder statesman of the Sicilian family. De Niro’s turn as a young Vito defines the character just as much as Brando’s two years earlier. While most just think of the character as the older, wiser patriarch from part 1, De Niro’s take is just as important and just as defining here, if not more so. It’s no surprise he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role (making him and Brando the only pair of actors to win an Academy Award for portraying the same character).

The Godfather: Part II is a beautifully film that adds to the Corleone story from the first movie, and it’s usually a film I watch every year at Thanksgiving, when the films are marathoned on TV (since I don’t care about football). I’d probably watch it more often if it wasn’t so long. At 3 and a half hours, it’s easily the longest film I’m likely to watch for a very long time.

But it’s totally worth it.

That’s all for this edition. The poll for the next round is still up, so make sure to vote on what comes next! Info on the movies in the poll can be found HERE, and you can vote on our Twitter page.