That’s right, the god damn GODFATHER. I mean, what is there even left to say about THE GODFATHER? Well, I’ll tell you.
Bear with me though, I’m about to mention Steven Seagal again. Yesterday I was reading Seagal’s entry on wikipedia when I came across a section talking about the field of Seagalogy, mentioning me as the inventor and linking to a separate entry just about me. I couldn’t believe it. After all I’ve been through – getting rejected from the Online Film Critics Society, being hated by the newsies on Ain’t It Cool for years, failing to stop the Iraq war and even, as you can see above, watching GARFIELD – after all that struggle, here I am, acknowledged in reference material, and described as a “noted internet film critic.”
Can you believe that? Noted.
Obviously I was proud but I also felt something nagging at me. A little hole inside that I fooled myself into believing would go away on its own. A deep dark secret. When you are a noted internet film critic, you have certain standards to live up to that you don’t worry about as much before you’re noted. But I was noted. So I knew I had to do something, something I should’ve done a long time ago. Watch the fucking GODFATHER.
You heard it. That’s no joke. I never saw THE GODFATHER until last night. Not even once. How did this happen? It’s hard to say. I do live in America which, in my opinion, is on the planet Earth. Which pretty much means for sure I should’ve seen this movie before. Where was I? What cave was I living in? Well the truth is, even people living in caves have seen THE GODFATHER. Are you telling me bin Laden doesn’t have THE GODFATHER and SCARFACE on his shelf? Of course he does.
There are just some things that cannot be explained. Why do men have nipples. What is the sound of one tree clapping in the forest. Who would win between Superman and Freddy. X-Men and Capote. Dr. Dolittle and Lawrence of Arabia. Oh, I haven’t seen LAWRENCE OF ARABIA either by the way. I probaly shouldn’t have brought that up though.
But you know what, a man is allowed to make mistakes and as we travel on this great journey called life we will, I don’t know… we will do some kind of metaphorical journey thing. And in this case that metaphorical journey thing is watching THE GODFATHER last night. So get over it man, I’ve seen it now. Leave me alone.
Today is a new beginning. I feel like I finally learned how to read or something. I finally get it. I know what they’re talking about with this [SPOILER] horse head business. And this [SPOILER] “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.” I didn’t know they were gonna keep saying it over and over again like “may the force be with you” or “I’m getting too old for this shit.” But I finally know what the big deal is about this Francis Ford Coppola. It seemed kind of weird before because I saw part of that movie JACK on cable and it didn’t seem that good. But now I get it.
I probaly don’t need to tell you why this movie is [SPOILER] a masterpiece. Obviously Brando is incredible with that voice and everything. And when he [SPOILER] gets shot and ends up all sick and has that crazy James-Brown’s-mugshot-hair that was cool, I didn’t know about that because you just see people imitating him in his office. You don’t see the crazy hair.
And James Caan and Robert Duvall of course. And Al Pacino. I seen SCARFACE and CARLITO’S WAY but it never really occurred to me that he already did a movie where he makes the journey to the top of a criminal empire. I don’t know how believable of a transformation it is but he does a great job of going from innocent college boy war hero explaining his family to Diane Keaton to cold-hearted criminal mastermind lying to Diane Keaton about his family and shutting her out of his office. Earlier he’s calling his own brother “sir” and trying to distance himself from the family business. But then his father gets shot and he starts coming up with these ideas and there’s that shot where he sits down and states his plan and the way he’s sitting in that chair you know he’s turning into his dad.
Also, maybe you noticed, the cinematography is pretty good. anybody noticed that? I liked that.
One thing that’s great for an ignoramus like me, the most famous stuff of the movie happens in the first half hour, so after that I really didn’t know what was gonna happen. And even the horse head business, I knew what was coming obviously but that was a great sequence. I love the upbeat music and oppulent mansions in Hollywood, and how all the studio head’s servants are black. And I like how Duvall is mostly played as a lawyer who keeps his hands clean but as far as we can tell he must’ve snuck into the stable at night, sawed a horse’s head off, carried the bloody thing into the mansion, tip-toed into the guy’s room without waking him up and snuggled it into bed with him. How’s that for getting tucked in, motherfucker? I wonder if he was giggling as he snuck out of the mansion? Probaly not, he seems like a pretty serious guy.
A little trivia about that scene, by the way: it was not in the original script. It was actually how Marlon Brando got the part, by threatening the head of the studio. So Coppolla and Robert Duvall improvised those scenes as an S.O.S. to the outside world. Help, this crazy man is forcing his way into our movie, and he’s got some weird thing in his mouth to make him mumble. But then Brando’s performance turned out so good that they just decided to let bygones be bygones. I think that’s what happened, I saw it on E! True Hollywood Stories or something. I might be remember something wrong, or making up the whole thing, but it is probaly somewhat true, in a sense.
One thing I didn’t expect was how lovable the Corleone family are. I mean they do some bad things obviously but the way the movie presents it you automatically side with them in everything. Most of the bad stuff happens from people coming at them, and they’re just striking back. Plus, that opening at the wedding with the Don listening to everybody’s requests, he seems like a pretty decent guy doing a pain in the ass job. I mean all he wants to do is go enjoy his daughter’s wedding, but he has to sit here in this office and promise favors to everybody.
And when he tells the first guy that “the day may never come” but he might ask a favor of him some day, obviously you assume that’s trouble. A Faust type deal. So it’s a big surprise later on when we learn that this guy is a mortician and the favor is for him to do a good job on Sonny’s body. He doesn’t have to lose his soul, he just has to do his job. In movies and in real life, mafia people are trouble. But here they’re pretty good people to know.
The people who are not lovable in the movie, though, are the women. I gotta say, most of the women characters in the movie are obnoxious. Diane Keaton’s not that bad, but she’s kind of dumb, and a sucker for coming back to Michael Corleone all these years later if she doesn’t want any part in a criminal empire. Appolonia (is this the same gal Prince used to hang out with?) is annoying and although she’s kind of cute I don’t really buy that she “could tempt the Devil himself.” If the Devil said “you know, it’s tempting,” he was probaly just being polite. Especially since the lady has no nipples! Did you see that? She takes her clothes off and she looks like a damn Barbie doll. That freaked me out.
It’s kind of funny how Michael leaves Diane Keaton, gets married, his new wife gets blown up, then he comes back to Diane Keaton and as far as we know he never even mentioned the other wife to her. She’s blown up now, what’s the point in discussing it. Anyway much worse than Diane and Appolonia is Talia Shire as Sister Corleone. Obviously you feel bad for her getting roughed up, and the scene where Sonny beats the holy living shit out of her husband is pure delight. But in the beginning of the movie Vito mentions how he spoiled his kids, and this applies to Sister too. She’s a fucking brat. Most of her screen time is spent pouting or crying or throwing dishes or defending her dirtbag husband. So you don’t have a whole lot of connection to her other than feeling sorry for her.
Also, I gotta call out the babies. The babies in this movie are always fucking crying. Come on, babies. Learn some god damn manners.
But despite weak characters for the women and babies, this is a great fuckin movie that managed to live up to decades of hype. And I think it’s funny how there are these movies that are universally acknowledged masterpieces, but then nobody ever wants to make or watch movies like that anymore. People don’t want to watch 3 hour movies. They don’t want cameras to move slowly. And they gotta get some techno in there. You call this movie exciting? Where is the fucking techno? Too slow. Booooooring. I got places to be. shoulda been an hour shorter then it woulda been good. I mean, I understand that it’s a great movie but what if I have to pee.
Of couse, a million movies imitate all the superficial aspects, the mafia stuff that’s become cliche, but they don’t really try to make a movie like THE GODFATHER. Maybe they’re just being realistic – not many people could pull off a movie that good. But still. Let’s see some striving, people. True greatness has been proven possible. You’ll never get it unless you try. Take it from a noted internet film critic. I believe in you.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.