D.J. Haza presents the next entry in his series of films to watch before you die…
The Godfather: Part II, 1974.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Starring Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Michael V. Gazzo and Lee Strasberg.
After watching The Godfather you simply must grab The Godfather: Part II and continue the story. The film consists of two parallel narratives running side by side as we follow Michael (Pacino) and his leadership of the crime family following on from the first film, but also the prequel to the first film and follows the young Vito Corleone (De Niro) as he arrives in America as an immigrant and builds his empire.
Following on from where the first film finished Michael moved the family out to Nevada and began work in the gambling industry of Las Vegas in order to make the family legitimate, but the same old issues still apply themselves. Michael has to deal with the threat from other crime families and organizations, corrupt officials and gangsters looking to muscle in on the Corleone family businesses. As Michael fights his battles in the courtroom and on the streets he has to unravel who is behind the treachery that threats his business before it’s too late.
Intertwined in Michael’s story is that of his father Vito, who arrives on Ellis Island as a child with ill health. As Vito grows into a man he lives with his wife Carmela and small child Santino in a tenement. Here he meets his friends Peter Clemenza and commits his first crime. Whilst working at a grocery store Vito learns of how Don Fanucci extorts protection money from local business and when he is asked to contribute Vito kills Fanucci and makes himself the respected leader of his community.
The Godfather: Part II was nominated for eleven Oscars and won six, including Best Director for Coppola, Best Supporting Actor for De Niro and Best Picture. After the original film’s success Coppola was given almost free reign to do as wished, but it still wasn’t without hiccups. Pacino refused to be in the film a short time before shooting due to issues he had with the script and Coppola spent an entire night rewriting it. Also, only a few weeks before the release, many critics had issues with the cuts between the parallel storylines and so Coppola and the film’s editors rushed to re-cut the film, but couldn’t finish it in time for it’s release and so some of the ending is poorly timed.
However, The Godfather: Part II is a film you must see before you die as it too is hailed as one of the greatest films ever made and possibly the greatest sequel ever made. It made popular in Hollywood the use of ‘Part II’ in a film title and Pacino’s role is regarded as one of the greatest performances of all time, with the Academy slammed for not awarding him the Oscar for Best Actor.