Tuesday, July 17, 2018

An Offer You Can't Refuse

The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire
Released: March 24, 1972

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola (lost to Bob Fosse for Cabaret)
Best Actor - Marlon Brando (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Al Pacino (lost to Joel Grey for Cabaret)
Best Supporting Actor - Robert Duvall
Best Supporting Actor - James Caan
Best Adapted Screenplay - Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola (won)
Best Costume Design (lost to Travels With My Aunt)
Best Editing (lost to Cabaret)
Best Sound (lost to Cabaret)

*It should be mentioned that the score by Nino Rota was originally nominated, but was deemed ineligible and was replaced by the score from Sleuth. This was because Rota had already used portions of this score for a 1958 movie called Fortunella. *

The Godfather Part II
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Lee Strasberg
Released: December 20, 1974

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola (won)
Best Actor - Al Pacino (lost to Art Carney for Harry and Tonto)
Best Supporting Actor - Robert De Niro (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Lee Strasberg
Best Supporting Actor - Michael V. Gazzo
Best Supporting Actress - Talia Shire (lost to Ingrid Bergman for Murder On the Orient Express)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola (won)
Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (won)
Best Costume Design (lost to The Great Gatsby)
Best Score - Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola (won)

The Godfather Part III
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Sofia Coppola
Released: December 25, 1990

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (lost to Dances With Wolves)
Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola (lost to Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves)
Best Supporting Actor - Andy Garcia (lost to Joe Pesci for Goodfellas)
Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (lost to Dick Tracy)
Best Cinematography (lost to Dances With Wolves)
Best Editing (lost to Dances With Wolves)
Best Original Song - "Promise Me You'll Remember" by Carmine Coppola and John Bettis (lost to "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man") by Stephen Sondheim for Dick Tracy)

***Spoiler warning for all three movies***

I'm going to say something that might anger a lot of movie aficionados: I don't care for most movies from a certain era. This "era" includes from the inception of film making to the sixties. Now I'll be the first to admit that I haven't seen many movies from these decades (you may notice that many of the movies I review are from the eighties, nineties, aughties, and whatever the heck you call this decade), so perhaps it's not fair for me to make that judgement. But every time I watch (or try to watch!) a movie from the distant past, I have such a hard time getting into it. There are a few exceptions to this. I really liked Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and 12 Angry Men (1957). And even though I'm not gaga over Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and Citizen Kane (1941), I can appreciate their places in pop culture relevancy. I actually came to appreciate Tiffany's a lot more when I tried watching My Fair Lady (1964). I couldn't even finish that one! All About Eve (1950) is another one I couldn't finish. I've seen Casablanca  (1942) and eh. I wasn't impressed. Yeah, it gives us that great line, but I really didn't see the big deal. (I'm just really asking to be murdered by a cinephile, aren't I?) And there are other movies from this era that I've seen that I don't care for. Oh! How could I forget? I really don't like one of the most beloved movies of our time, The Wizard of Oz (1939). It's been more than a minute (or a decade or two!) since I've seen it, but I think my dislike for this film is inherited from my mom who hilariously hates this movie (she said she had to watch it a lot when she was a kid and in turned started to hate it) and also, I lived in Kansas when I was a kid/teenager so I have heard many of the stupid jokes about "I don't think you're in Kansas anymore."Ugh! Everyone who ever said that to me thought they were being SO CLEVER! So yeah, now I've probably pissed off a lot of people....but don't worry, you'll be getting some good news in a bit.

You're probably wondering where the '70s fits into this (actually, you're probably wondering when I'm going to start the damn review!) as I don't count it among the decades of filmmaking I don't care for and I also haven't reviewed too many movies from that decade. Well, I hope to change that soon. As much as I hate '70s fashion (bell bottoms? ugh!), '70s music (disco? It's the WORST!), and '70s decor (orange shag carpet? Whoever thought that was a good idea?), I think the '70s has some great films and to me, that's the first decade where I truly love the majority of the films (and even though I haven't seen as many movies from the '70s than from the '80s til the present, I have seen many more films from the '70s than from any before it). Obviously you have the rise of Steven Spielberg and Jaws (1975) which is considered the first blockbuster and you have Star Wars (1977) which, while I don't really care about those movies, has been one of the biggest franchises of all time, if not the biggest. Already I've just named two movies and already this decade is way more impressive in terms of filmmaking than any decade before it. Oh, and let's just add The Godfather and it's sequel (1972, 1974) and it pretty much cements the '70s as the first truly great decade in film history. That's okay if you don't agree with me, but rejoice, film aficionados and cinephiles! You don't have to kill me! I love The Godfather movies! (Well, the first two...the third was okay, but we'll get to that later). 

Seeing as all three movies are either almost three hours long or over three hours, it took me about four days to get through all of them, but it was an engrossing experience as I knew I was in the thralls of what is considered to be two of the best movies ever made in the history of film (and the third one was still pretty enjoyable for what it is). It was like finding the Holy Grail of movies. I'm not saying this is my new favorite movie, but wow! It was so good! I was just in awe watching them. I get why people love these movies and rave about them. I get why they've won so many accolades. I get why the first one is ranked #1 (or 2 or 3) on many Best Movies Of All Time lists. The only movies that ever seem to get ahead of it on these lists are Citizen Kane and/or Casablanca, and like I've mentioned before, I don't much care for those films. The American Film Institute ranked it the second greatest movie of all time behind Citizen Kane.

Yes, believe it or not I had never seen The Godfather trilogy. I admit, the length was a big factor in that. I just never had time to really sit down and watch all of them and knowing they were all around three hours just seemed like a huge chore, but I was able to find time to set aside a couple hours each day to watch them. I also wasn't sure if I would like them. I'm not the biggest fan of the mafia/mob genre. Besides Goodfellas(which I really love), I really haven't seen many films depicting it. I watched The Sopranos (and I could tell it was very influenced by The Godfather), but it was never a favorite show of mine. Hell, I still haven't seen the last season to this day! I was very aware of The Godfather in pop culture history, how could you not be? It has been parodied countless times in other movies and TV shows. (Zootopia comes to mind). I was very aware of the horse head scene and I knew "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse" (which is the second most iconic movie line after "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind according to AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes). It also gives us the well-known mantras "It's not personal, it's business" and "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer", although I don't think they originated from the films or the 1969 novel  by Mario Puza the first film is based on, but I'm sure it helped make them popular. It also helped popularize the phase, "sleeping with the fishes."

The first movie opens with Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), the head of one of the Five Families, a powerful New York mob family granting requests on this, the day of daughter's wedding. He has a cat in his lap who is just loving the pats and scratches and belly rubs its getting from the Godfather. We meet the Corleone family. There's oldest son, Santino, who goes by Sonny (James Caan); second oldest son, Fredo (John Cazale); youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino); and youngest, his daughter, Connie (Talia Shire). Oh, and he's also married to a woman named Carmela, but she's pretty much a non-factor. In fact, I had to look up her name. She has a couple scenes in the movie. We also meet Vito's lawyer and adopted son, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). I did not recognize Duvall at all...I knew he was in this movie and kept looking for him and just figured he had a small part and I just missed it, but no, he's a major character and it wasn't until after I looked him up that I realized who he was!

Michael brings his girlfriend, Kay (Diane Keaton) to the wedding. I knew Diane Keaton was in this movie, but I did not recognize her at all! Yeah, this movie came out 46 years ago, but I have seen Annie Hall and that was released a few years after this one and she looks like Diane Keaton in that. I'm used to Diane Keaton looking like...Diane Keaton and I did not recognize her at all! It wasn't until I was well into the movie and had already seen the other two women in the movie who clearly weren't her as they were both Italian and dark-haired, that I realized the young fair-haired woman we were introduced to early in the movie was indeed her! By the second movie, I do recognize her, although that could be because I'm already aware it's her!

So I already mentioned the infamous horse head scene but I was NOT expecting it to happen so soon! Something like that, I thought for sure there would be a build-up to it, but no, it happens just a little over half an hour into this nearly three hour saga! The poor horse was killed because of some Frank Sinatra wannabe named Johnny Fontane who sings at Connie's wedding and who all the girls and older women fawn over him like he's the Beatles or Elvis or One Direction. He wants out of his recording contract and his Godfather is able to make that happen. When a movie executive refuses to put Fontane in one of his movies, he wakes up to find his beloved $600,000 racehorse's head in his bed. I had always assumed the head was on the pillow next to his, but he wakes up to find himself in a pool of blood (a LOT of blood) and follows the trail to the foot of his bed where the head is and has the reaction I think anyone in his situation would have: he screams in horror and anguish. As horrible as this scene is in the context of the movie, I think the behind-the-scenes story is almost worse. First of all, it's a real horse's head. Ugh. Now I understand why the actor screamed like that! I would need years of therapy! I did not know about this until after I saw the movie. I just figured the horse head was donated to them after a horse died of old age or natural causes, but no...it's much worse than that. It's pretty horrific, actually. Probably just as horrific as you know, decapitating a horse after you kill it. Coppola got the horse head from a dog food company. Yes, there was once upon a time when they slaughtered horses for dog food. What the f*** kind of s*** it that? Not cool, Frank. As far as I know, that no longer happens, but you can bet I marched over to my cat's cat food to read the ingredients and was relieved to see the only protein listed was chicken. There is no way in hell you could film this scene in today with a real head, even if the animal had died of old age or natural causes. So yeah, pretty disturbing.

Despite playing the titular character, Marlon Brando wasn't in the movie very much. He's only in it for less than an hour. He gets shot early on in the movie by a drug trafficker named Sollozzo after he refuses to go into business with him. He survives the assassination attempt, but spends time in the hospital. After a corrupt cop named McClusky, who's on Sollozzo's pay roll, pops Michael in the jaw, Michael decides he's going to get revenge on them, and kill them. He also knows if they're not killed first, they're going to come after his father because they know he survived the assassination attempt.  There is a meeting set up under the guise of a truce because after the assassination attempt on their father, hothead oldest son Sonny had a hit put out on one of Sollozzo's allies. (There was a lot of plot to follow!) The only way to do this is find a hiding spot for his gun at the restaurant they'll be at since he'll be frisked beforehand. He's given advice from Sonny and Clemenza, his father's right-hand man on how the hit should go down. The advice he gets includes "two shots a piece in the head as soon as you come out" [of the restroom] and for him to drop the gun and "walk fast, but don't run." Clemenza is not amused when he asks Michael, "You shot them both, what do you do?" and Michael replies, "Sit down, finish my dinner." When he's at the restaurant, he's starting intently at the wine opener the waiter is using and I really thought it was going to come into play. Either he wasn't going to find the gun in the bathroom where they decided it would be hidden in a toilet tank and have to improvise with the wine opener or he was just going to snap and grab it from the waiter and puncture the men's necks with it. But that doesn't happen. When he goes into the bathroom, he finds the hidden gun, but instead of immediately shooting the men as he was directed, he sits back down at the table and I wondered if he had changed his mind. But no, as Sollozzo is talking to him, you can see the anger raging in him and he shoots them both in the head (and the police officer also gets it in the throat) and the table flips over. The waiter is standing right next to the table and blood gets all over his uniform and he just takes a step back, with his arms behind his back. It's very odd. He doesn't scream or look scared. The other extras in this scene just sort of slip out the back door while Michael briskly walks out the door.

The men he killed were connected to one of the other Five Families (and I'm sure somewhere out there, someone has a detailed family tree of these mafia families!) and he is taken somewhere he'll be (supposedly) safe. Picture it: Sicily, 1945. (How much do you want to bet Sophia Petrillo loves The Godfather?) He's staying there under the protection of his father's friend, Don Tammasino. He meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Apollonia and they get married. This has to be the smallest villages ever because after he sees her, he and a couple guys he was with go to an outdoor cafe and while they tell the guy who owns the cafe about the girl, we find out that she's his daughter and he's not happy they're talking about her like that! But through a translator, Michael wins him over and asks him if he can introduce him to his daughter. The marriage doesn't last very long as the bad guys have found out where Michael is and a car bomb that was intended for him, kills his first wife instead and he heads back to New York after being in Sicily for a couple of years. We never do see any fallout from her father. She could have easily been a forgotten character, but she is brought up in the third movie when Michael mentions her to his grown children. That's kind of a messed up thing to do. "Hey, kids, I was married to another woman before I married your mother, but she was killed. Otherwise, if she hadn't died, I would still be with her and you two would never exist." So yes, Michael ends up marrying Kay when returns to New York, but he doesn't approach her until he's been back for a year and they just sort of pick up where they left off, even though Kay had no idea where he was or that he was married. Their son, Anthony, is born a few years later.

Connie is married to an abusive man and Sonny beats him up. When it happens again (and there are  dishes being smashed and belts being lashed and furniture being turned over), Sonny heads out to help his sister, but ends up being shot at when he tries to go through the toll, but his car is blocked and he's unable to get through as the men riddle his car (not to mention Sonny himself!) with bullets. This was all a plot by one of the heads from one of the Five Families who got Connie's husband to wile her up so she would call Sonny for help and then they could trap and kill him. Of course Connie's husband will later be killed in retribution, making Connie none too pleased with Michael, who ordered the hit.

Vito, who is now recovered, calls for an emergency meeting between the Five Families and wants a peace offering. Because of this, Michael is able to return to the United States without fear of retaliation. The film will jump forward in time a few years without telling us. (They're much better about that in the second movie). All of a sudden, Marlon Brando is in old man make up and he's playing with his grandson in an orange grove where he will eventually keel over and die.  Oranges play a pivotal role in these movies: whenever you see one, a character will die or almost get killed in that scene or maybe a few scenes later. I have to admit, I honestly didn't notice it until the second movie, but when I went back and revisited some scenes, then I defintely noticed. Just keep your eyes peeled for oranges whenever you watch any of The Godfather movies (although, I swear in the third movie, sometimes there are oranges in a scene and nothing significant happens). Because of the deaths of his father and older brother, Michael is now the head of the Corleone household.

While I don't know which scene in The Godfather is the most iconic, I would have to assume it's one of the last scenes where Michael is at the church baring witness to his sister's baby being baptized while a multitude of murders are going on. Pretty much Michael is making sure he's turning on his foes before they turn on him. While the baptism is going on, we see the other heads of the mafia families being killed. Probably the most memorable death is that of one Moe Greene, the bespectacled Las Vegas casino owner who refused to sell his shares to Michael. He is shot in the eye (through the lens of his glasses) as he's getting a massage and a lot of blood spurts out. Pretty impressive how they did that. Although I have to give major props for the guy who died on the steps and rolled down them. That got a chuckle out of me.  That was some great acting there. The baby we see getting baptized is none other than future Oscar-nominated director Sofia Coppola (aka the director's daughter). She was only a couple weeks old when they filmed that scene and she was born in May of 1971, so that should give you a timeline of when the movie was filmed. I'm sure many people would agree that her performance in this movie is much better than her performance in the third movie...oh, we'll get to that in due time!

Time to move on to The Godfather Part II. Some people like the first movie the best, some people prefer the second to the first. Never is the third movie in this conversation. (Wonder if there's anyone out there who does like the third more than the first two?) While I think there are great scenes in the first movie, I think I may like the second a bit better because by this time I was more invested in the movie and I was more familiar with the characters. But then again, there are some great scenes in the first movie and you have that iconic performance by Marlon Brando. Yeah, this is tough. The second movie is the longest at three hours and twenty-two minutes. (The first one is three minutes shy of being three hours and the third one is ten minutes shy of being three hours. Dang, these are really long movies!) In a way, Part II is like watching two movies interwoven into each other: one starring Al Pacino and the other starring Robert De Niro. The movie is so long that there was actually an intermission break after two hours! Seriously, after the scene ended, this cue card came on that said "Intermission". I have never seen a movie have an intermission, not even Titanic which is the same amount of time (five minutes less!) and I saw that in the theaters three times! This movie is the first sequel to win an Oscar, something that won't happen again until 2004 when the third Lord of the Rings movie won.

It's 1958 Michael and his family are living in a lake house near Lake Tahoe in Nevada and his children are grade school age, young Anthony just having celebrated his First Communion. Early on in the movie, an assassination attempt it made on Michael when bullets come flying through his bedroom window as he's talking to his wife, who is in bed. Nobody is hurt, but Michael will spend the rest of the movie trying to find out who put out a hit on him.

A new major character is that of Hyman Roth, a Jewish investor and business partner of Michael's. He plays into Michael's father's mentality of "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." He is played by Lee Strasberg, who, I'll admit, I didn't know who that was, but after listening to some podcasts and reading about him, discovered he was a famous acting coach who taught acting method and some of his famous clients included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Paul Newman, and his co-star, Al Pacino. When we first meet Hyman, he's lounging on a chair with one leg draped over the arm of the seat. I have never seen anyone sit like this in the movies or in real life, but now knowing his background as a method actor, it all makes sense that he would think outside the box. Needless to say, there's some shady stuff going down with Roth. Michael thinks that Roth put the hit out on him, but when Roth tells him that he was a friend of Moe Green's and heard he had been killed, he did not worry about who put the hit out on him, and let it go, insinuating that Michael should do the same. Hyman has a hit out for Michael, but Michael's men kill him first. It turns out that Michael's only surviving brother (for now!), Fredo was the one responsible for the attempted hit on him. "I knew it was you, Fredo...you broke my heart." In Fredo's defense, he says he didn't know about that, but it's too little, too late. Michael has one of his men kill Fredo (a shot to the back of the head while they're fishing in a boat), but not until after their mother has died so she doesn't have to be alive to know about it.

Kay, who is pregnant with what Michael hopes is a son (why does he care when he already has a son?) has lost the baby in a miscarriage, but later, she will reveal to Michael something I think she should have taken to the grave: she tells him she didn't have a miscarriage, but rather an abortion because she didn't want to bring any more children into this family. Well, this makes Michael furious and he slaps Kay in an intense scene. They get divorced, not surprisingly.

There's a lot more things going on during the Michael storyline, including a Senate hearing investigating the Corleone family. Plenty of oranges and murders! While all these scenes are going on, we get some reprieves with the flashbacks to a young Vito Corleone. Yes, we get the Vito Corleone origin story. And it starts at the very beginning with him. We see him as a nine-year-old boy named Vito Andolini who lives in Corleone, Sicily. His father has been murdered by Don Ciccio (pronounced Chi-chi-oh!), the main mafia leader after Antonio Andolini insulted him. (Dang, don't insult Ciccio!) Vito's older brother vowed revenge, but also ended getting killed himself. Ciccio has his men fetch Vito because he wants him killed too. His mother begs for his life, telling the crime lord that the child never talks and isn't a threat, but Ciccio doesn't care. I have to say, that he's right. Sure, right now he's a weak nine-year-old kid, but as well know, he'll grow up to be one of the most powerful men in the mafia who will build an impressive empire. And, spoiler alert, he will get his vengeance on Ciccio. Just not right now. Cuz he's only nine. Mama Andolini distracts Ciccio and tells her son to run. He complies, but she is shot. With help, Vito gets on a ship and travels to New York. Because he doesn't talk, his last name becomes Corleone, the place of his birth.

When we see Vito later, he will now be a young man and he's played by Robert De Niro. He was thirty when he filmed this and he looks so young! Even if I didn't know he was in this movie, I would have recognized him. I grew up with '90s and '00 Robert De Niro, so I'm used to him being fifty and older in his movies (think Meet the Parents or Silver Linings Playback De Niro). He does a good job of adopting Brando's mannerisms from the first movie. All the Vito scenes are subtitled in English because the characters are speaking Italian. Vito lives in Little Italy (where else?) with a family that are distant relatives of his. This is where he meets Genco, who he will eventually start an olive oil company with called Genco Pura. (Mmm, olive oil). He gets a job as a grocer at Genco's father store, but understands when he has to be fired because a man named Fanucci, who has a lot of power and is able to get his way, wants his son to have the job. We see how Vito meets Clemenza and Tessio who are both important figures in the first movie and become important allies for Vito. They start an illegal operation and Fanucci gets wind of this and demand that Vito and his men cut him in for a profit or he will go to the police. Vito will hide in a dark shadow of Fanucci's apartment and kill him with a towel. Well, a gun wrapped inside a towel. Before Fanucci will meet his demise, he will grab an orange from a market. Should've gotten an apple, Fanucci.

Speaking of people who Vito will get his revenge on, remember good old Ciccio? He's a much older man, but he's still alive (for now) when Vito goes back to Sicily twenty-two years later under the guise of selling his olive oil to him. When the hard-of-hearing Ciccio asks his name, Vito replies, "Vito Corleone" and when he asks who his father is, he has to tell him twice that it's Antonio Andolini because Ciccio didn't hear him the first time. As he leans closer to tell him, he knifes him in the stomach, cutting him diagonally as he say, "And this is for you!" Yep, Ciccio was smart in wanting to kill Vito when he was a young boy so this wouldn't happen to him!

Time to move on to The Godfather Part III which came out sixteen years after Part II and is set in 1979. I was kind of surprised to find out it was nominated for Best Picture (even though it didn't win like the first two did) because whenever The Godfather trilogy is brought up, people HATE this movie and talk about how awful it is and how it can't be counted as a perfect trilogy because this movie brings it down. I do agree it's not as good and doesn't have the same pedigree as its predecessors, but honestly, I didn't think it was that bad. Of course, I was expecting for something really awful, but it was still an enjoyable stand alone movie. I think it has my favorite Al Pacino line from any of The Godfather movies which is, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" This movie came out the same year as fellow gangster flick, Goodfellas, also nominated for Best Picture. That movie was much better than this one.

While I didn't think the movie was as bad as everyone made it out to be, I did have to agree that Sofia Coppola was awful in it. This was something I also heard in regards to this movie, and hoo boy, they weren't lying. "Sofia Coppla was really good in Godfather 3," said no one ever. I totally blame this on the director, what was he thinking putting his eighteen (nineteen?) year-old daughter in this? I guess Winona Ryder was originally supposed to have the part, but she dropped out to be in Edward Scissorhands. While there were other actresses who expressed interest in playing the role, they were on a tight schedule and Sofia was the only one available...or something. I'm not quite sure about the whole story. Maybe Francis Ford Coppola had his father glasses on and his children can do no wrong in his eyes, but did he not see how awful his daughter was in this movie? Even Stevie Wonder could see that! Her voice and delivery are flat, she has no emotion, just everything about her acting is terrible. Well, I thought she was good in one scene, but I'll get to that later. (And you'll think I'm so mean!) I have enjoyed Sofia's movies she's directed, so she does have talent...acting just isn't it! I do feel bad for Sofia because she was so young and she got a lot of flak for this. That's gotta be hard. FFC is no stranger to casting his family in his movies. Talia Shire, who plays Connie in all three movies, is his sister.

I should probably mention that Sofia plays Michael and Kay's daughter, Mary. Yes, Diane Keaton is back too and they're still divorced, but on more friendly terms. There's this really creepy and icky subplot involving Mary where she falls for her cousin, Vincent (Andy Garcia) who is the illegitimate son of Sonny and a woman he hooked up with at his sister's wedding. They are flirting with each other and when they start making out with each other after what is supposed to be a sensual scene of him guiding her hands to make gnocchi (think Ghost with the pottery), I thought I had misunderstood the scene of them earlier where they're talking about "the old days" with their fathers and something else entirely had come out of their mouths or when they called each other "cousin" or "cuz", that was a term of endearment in Italian. I was thinking, THEY CANNOT ACTUALLY BE FIRST COUSINS AND MAKING OUT! THAT IS DISGUSTING! Seriously, I almost threw up in my mouth a little when they say, "I love you cous" and start kissing. By the way, how embarrassing would that be to have your dad direct you in a make-out scene?  I totally thought I had misunderstood this whole business of them being cousins! But, no, they ARE first cousins as her father points out (thanks for clearing that up, Al) later on. When Michael says, "He's your first cousin," she replies, "Then I love him first." GROAN. And, ewwww. Was this acceptable back in the '70s? Is this an Italian thing? I don't get it! While he does say it's a no-no since they are cousins, he seems more concerned that it's too dangerous, you know, since Vincent has family connections. Vincent does agree to stop seeing Mary and when we see that scene, are we supposed to feel sad they're not going to be together? Cuz I sure as hell don't! I don't care that's she boo hoo hoo-ing and sad. Girl, go meet somebody who isn't related to you and shares your blood! Ewww! Seriously, if I were in a movie where my character was in love with her first cousin, I would tell the director (especially if it was my own dad!), "Uh, you sure about this?"

Anyway...as with any Godfather movie, there are one or two (or three or four) death scenes, but some of them in this one are way over the top. One of the earlier ones feels like it came out of a Die Hard movie. Michael is in a fancy conference room with other mob bosses and a helicopter starts gunning them down from the ceiling...its quite ridiculous. One idiot dies cuz he's trying to get his lucky coat off a hook. Don't think that coat is lucky anymore. Of course the only people who get out alive are the two main characters. There's also an assassination attempt on Michael when the whole family (including Kay) are in Sicily to see Anthony (their son, remember) perform at an opera. Anthony has decided to be an opera singer for whatever reason. The opera is called Cavalleria Rusticana and it looks like the most boring opera ever. It looks very religious and long and weird and boring. Seriously, I wish someone would shoot me if I were watching that! It's not until after the opera when everyone is outside that Michael is shot at, but his shoulder is grazed and instead Mary gets hit in the chest and falls on the stairs. This is when Sofia has her best scene: when she's lying dead on the steps, not breathing. (Heh, I told you it was mean!) Michael gives a chilling reaction to his daughter's death. He later dies as an old man. Okay, the more I think about it, the more this movie isn't that great and I take back what I said about it being not as bad as I thought it was. It is pretty bad. Except for the one Al Pacino line I like.

So yes, while Part III brings the overall score of the Godfather movies down a peg, the first two movies are quite a cinematic achievement and I have to wonder what it would be like to see it in the theaters when it was released. 

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