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Mystery & Suspense movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola

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On Godfather Part II

  • Jul 22, 2003
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Is this a prequel or a sequel? In some ways, both. What we have here is a film which provides essential background information about Vito Corleone who later became a crime family don (played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather) and a continuation of the saga as Michael succeeds his father as don and proceeds with plans to involve his family only in legitimate enterprises. One of the several reasons that Coppola received an Academy Award for best director and The Godfather Part II received an Academy Award as best film is his brilliant use of cross-cuts. (Obviously, they were eliminated in the made-for-television The Godfather Saga in 1977 which rearranges the two films' narrative within a chronological order.) My own opinion is that this film is the equal of The Godfather but they are, stand alone, masterpieces. Special credit is due cinematographer Gordon Willis who uses sepia-tone to present what seem like almost home movies of young Vito and his family...but then, when shooting events at Lake Tahoe compound and in Cuba, the action is presented with a contemporary look.

The focal point of much of the film is the relationship between Michael and Hyman Roth (Strasberg) as they develop their partnership in Cuba. The negotiations are juxtaposed, indeed intertwined with Michael's strained relationship with his older brother Fredo (John Casale). Almost but not quite lost in all this are Michael's deteriorating relationships with his sister Connie (Talia Shire), Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), and eventually with just about everyone. As the film ends, Michael is alone in just about every possible way.

As to my favorite scenes, there are several which include Michael's conversation with Roth on the balcony (during the celebration of Roth's birthday) when Michael shares his recent experience on a street in Havana, later when he confronts insecure Fredo with betraying him (Michael) and the Corleone family, and when Tessio (Abe Vigoda) approaches Michael during the burial of his father and later when Tessio appeals for his life, and even later when Michael looks out the window of his compound on Lake Tahoe, perhaps recalling happier moments in his past. When Michael offered to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey, he began a rite of passage after which he was ordained (if that's the right word) to a fate his father never wished for him. When this great film ends, Michael seems empty...without any redeeming humanity...resigned to accept what he felt required to do and is therefore somehow fulfilled.

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More The Godfather: Part II reviews
review by . June 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****       I think what makes Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather" films so intriguing is the fact that the mobsters portrayed within the film's story are not beaten down merely by business and deals. They are often brought down by temptation, love, violence, power, and admiration. These needs make the mafia characters more human than they probably need to be. I like these characters a lot; several of them are "classic gangster figures". Yet they all have …
review by . August 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
THE GODFATHER was cinematic perfection, a film without flaw, considered by a great many to be the greatest film of all time. There are just as many who believe its sequel - or, more appropriately, its "continuation" - is even better. About 3/5 of THE GODFATHER: PART II is set in 1958, when Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) has taken over his father's crime syndicate. The other 2/5 revolve around young Vito Corleone (played by Robert De Niro), his arrival in America and his start as a young Mafioso. The …
review by . August 10, 2006
The GODFATHER trilogy needs no introduction. THE GODFATHER, released in 1972 and based on Mario Puzo's novel (at one time the bestselling novel of all time), is considered by many to be the greatest film of all time. It was directed and co-written by young Francis Ford Coppola, who did an absolutely outstanding job. Gordon Willis' unflinching and beautiful cinematography is superb, while Nino Rota's sweeping score is unforgettable. The cast is magnificent. Marlon Brando, in his signature role as …
review by . November 10, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
I would have given this movie 4 1/2 stars but not quite 5. It is a great sequel but pales in comparison to the first film. The continuation in the Michael Corleone saga is good but drags in places, especially towards the end. The Hyman Roth story is nowhere near as fascinating as the Solatzo/Barzini etc. from the first. The flashbacks to the young Vito Corleone was excellent but did not cover the depth that the book had (when does a movie ever equal the book?). Great actors! Pacino and De Niro actually …
review by . August 24, 2001
This is the only sequel to ever have achieved the same critical acclaim as the first movie in a series, with both I and II winning the "Best Picture" Academy Award. There were a number of features I enjoyed about this movie. The frequent "deep background" information was wonderful and well-done, incorporating the only major section of "The Godfather" novel to be missing from the first movie -- and showcasing Robert DeNiro as the young Don Corleone. I also enjoyed the historical connection with the …
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Robert Morris ()
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Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this movie


Francis Ford Coppola took some of the deep background from the life of Mafia chief Vito Corleone--the patriarch of Mario Puzo's bestselling novelThe Godfather--and built around it a stunning sequel to his Oscar-winning, 1972 hit film. Robert De Niro plays Vito as a young Sicilian immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York City's Little Italy. Coppola weaves in and out of the story of Vito's transformation into a powerful crime figure, contrasting that evolution against efforts by son Michael Corleone to spread the family's business into pre-Castro Cuba. As memorable as the first film is,The Godfather IIis an amazingly intricate, symmetrical tragedy that touches upon several chapters of 20th-century history and makes a strong case that our destinies are written long before we're born. This was De Niro's first introduction to a lot of filmgoers, and he makes an enormous impression. But even with him and a number of truly brilliant actors (including maestro Lee Strasberg), this is ultimately Pacino's film and a masterful performance.--Tom Keogh
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