Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Epic Films - Crime

Part The Godfather II Movie Review

corleone coppola michael francis

1974 – Francis Ford Coppola –

Seldom is a sequel anywhere near as satisfying or well made as the original; this one is both—if it is a sequel at all. In fact, both movies may be regarded as two parts of the same enormous story: the founding, growth, and decline of the Corleone crime family. Not only does The Godfather, Part II tie into the original film, but it also tells two distinct but related stories of its own, the life of young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) and the middle years of his son Michael (Al Pacino).

Like a double helix, the stories entwine. In 1901, young Vito comes as a child immigrant to the U.S., fleeing violence in Sicily. The hopeful faces passing the Statue of Liberty, the confusion of Ellis Island, the security of a job as a grocery clerk all make the audience see young Vito in a sympathetic light. The sympathy only builds when Vito kills the neighborhood scourge Fanucci (Gastone Moschin). And who can blame a man for accepting a stolen carpet for his beloved wife and babies? But the viewers are caught in a trap of their own (and Francis Ford Coppola's) making, for this is the foundation of a dual life of American success and calculated crime. As compassion grows for young Vito, interlaced scenes of Michael manipulating the mob in Cuba, Michael growing aloof from his wife and children, Michael lying before the Senate investigation of the Mafia turn the audience away from the legacy of the first godfather as we come to despise the second one.

Music, visuals, and stunning recreation of period sets and costumes are captivating. The performances are more nuanced than in The Godfather and thus are stronger. It ranks with Robert De Niro's best roles. Particular scenes linger in the memory, like the young Corleone family on the steps of a New York brownstone placidly watching a passing parade—completely unaware that their father has come late from murdering a man. And the final shot of aging Pacino alone, head of a family that no longer resembles one, is the picture of complete alienation.

In The Godfather Part III a profoundly lonely Michael still controls the “family business” but seeks forgiveness for the murder of his brother and tries to set his children's futures up securely. But fate takes from him those he loves, through the actions he began decades ago.

Cast: Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Diane Keaton (Kay Corleone), Robert De Niro (Vito Corleone), John Cazales (Fredo Corleone), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone Rizzi), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth), Michael V. Gazza (Frank Pentangeli), G. D. Spradlin (Senator Pat Geary), Gastone Moschin (Fanucci), Bruno Kirby (Young Clemenza), Francesca De Sepia (Young Mama Corleone), Dominic Chianese (Johnny Ola), Troy Donahue (Merle Johnson), Oreste Baldini II (Boy Vito Corleone) Screenwriter: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo Cinematographer: Gordon Willis Composer: Carmine Coppola, Nino Rota Producer: Francis Ford Coppola, Gray Frederickson, and Fred Roos for Paramount MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 200 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1974: Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction/Set Decoration, Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Picture, Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Original Dramatic/Comedy Score; Nominations: Actor (Al Pacino), Costume Design, Supporting Actor (Michael Gazzo, Lee Strasberg), Supporting Actress (Talia Shire); Directors Guild of America Awards, 1974: Director (Francis Ford Coppola); National Society of Film Critics Awards, 1974: Director (Francis Ford Coppola); Nominations: Cinematography; Writers Guild of America Awards 1974: Adapted Screenplay Box Office: $28.9M.

Once Upon a Time in America Movie Review [next] [back] The Godfather Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or