The Godfather (1972)
A few weeks back I had the pleasure of reviewing a film titled Captain Eo, which featured Michael Jackson as an intergalactic traveler who conquered evil with elaborate dance numbers. The film was directed by a chap named Francis Ford Coppola. On a whim, I decided to Google Coppola’s name to see if he had done anything previously, or if he just had beginner’s luck in creating the masterpiece Captain Eo. It turns out Coppola has had quite an extensive career. So this week I’ll be taking a look at one of his earlier films, The Godfather. One thing I can say about The Godfather is that it is not on the same level as Captain Eo.
For those who are unfamiliar with The Godfather, let me offer up this brief synopsis. This 1972 Best Picture winner focuses on the Corleones, an Italian-American family who are forced into the stereotype of being members of the mafia. The head of the family is Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) an old-school mob boss. When other families want to sell drugs in Corleone’s backyard of New York, he puts his foot down. Of course. he has no problem ordering the chopping off of a horse’s head to send a message to someone. Everyone has certain lines that they don’t want to cross, I guess.
After an attempt is made on the life of Vito, his son Michael (Al Pacino) is reluctantly brought into the business. Michael is a war hero who loves his family, but at the same time does not want to get sucked into the seedy underbelly of the New York crime world.
That, in a nutshell, is the story. Michael takes over the day-to-day operations of the family, which includes both committing acts of violence and, more often than not, ordering other people to do it for you.
This is a much beloved film. Entertainment Weekly named it the greatest film ever made. The American Film Institute named it the number-two film of all time. Well, once again, everyone but me is wrong.
Brando may have garnered a lot of praise during his career, but if this film is any indication of his overall body of work, I cannot fathom why. His dialogue is incomprehensible. I was constantly at a loss as to whether he was ordering a hit or ordering a sandwich. He had the verbal skills of a mime who had just suffered a stroke. Brando inexplicably was honoured with the Best Actor Oscar for his work in this film, but he declined to accept the award. Instead he sent Native America actress Sacheen Littlefeather to collect the award and make a speech about Hollywood’s misrepresentation of Native Americans. It’s a shame he didn’t send her to the set of this film to take over the role of Vito.
Pacino’s subtle performance has also been lauded by many members of the press. But who the hell wants a subtle Pacino? I want the screaming, maniacal Pacino from Scarface and The Devil’s Advocate. Every line of dialogue performed by Pacino should be shouted, not spoken. “I’D LIKE A GLASS OF TANG!” “MY FAVOURITE BASEBALL TEAM IS THE SAN DIEGO PADRES!” “DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE I CAN CATCH RE-RUNS OF THE 1980s SITCOM MR. BELVEDERE?!” Actually, I really would like an answer to that one.
There are only two things I enjoyed in this film. One is the legendary beating administered by Sonny Corleone (James Caan) to his sister Connie’s jerk of a husband. The other is the aforementioned severed horse head scene. Let’s face it – horses are bloodthirsty beasts that are just biding their time before they turn on us all. So you can pay your hardearned money to see a vicious beating and the decapitation of a farm animal… or you could go downtown on a Friday night and see these things for free.
I am going to make you an offer you cannot refuse. Avoid watching this film and you will be rewarded by having three extra hours to do something more enjoyable such as hand-washing your socks or organizing your pencils by height. Quite frankly, The Godfather is goddamn terrible.