May 20, 2014

The List: The Godfather Edition, Part I

For the next few days, I will be doing an unofficial official The Godfather Week here on The Paxton Configuration. I don't plan on this being a blogathon, per se, but I will be posting a lot about this wonderful trilogy I had the pleasure of revisiting lately. So, if you hate The Godfather, you'll probably want to stay away for the next week or so.

All right, so, without further ado, onto The List, Godfather Edition, Part I. In this four part column, we'll be looking at my Top 20 favorite scenes from the Godfather Trilogy, with commentary. Here is #20-#15:

#20. Like Father, Like Son (The Godfather Part III)

*the original video was taken down by Youtube so some of what I mention in the below commentary is missing.

Why It's Cool: Joe Mantegna's Joey Zasa may be a bit hammy but he is built in the tradition of media mobsters like Bugsy Siegel ... the kind of guys you'd share a beer with shortly after a contract killing. But Zasa (and his ear) are no match for Sonny Corleone's offspring Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia, in an Oscar nominated turn). Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) may not really need tough guys ... but he kind of likes this tough guy.

Plus, Pacino, never the tallest actor, just dominates Zasa with a look and the expectation of violence when he questions those that say, "fuck Michael Corleone".

Best Line: "Temper like his father". -- Michael

19. The Birth of the Godfather, Part 1 (The Godfather, Part II)

Why It's Cool: The young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro, in his first Oscar winning role) completes part one of his rise to power ... by eliminating the local thorn in his side, Don Fanucci. And he dispatches him with such brutality that his frosty manner makes him all the more menacing, and the reason why he would become the powerful Don he was meant to be.

Best Line: Uh, do gunshots count as lines? How about that brutal echo of the gun blast down the hallway after that extra shot in the mouth?

18. Dread (The Godfather, Part III)

Why It's Cool: Some of the best moments in the trilogy are with Pacino's Michael and Diane Keaton's  Kay, a damaged relationship that is stuck in an endless circle of lies and agony. It isn't just enough that Kay grew to dread Michael ... what really hurts is how Michael became Kay's horror. And when she, nearly unwillingly, admits the children still love Michael, he coldly says, with double meaning, 'we can build on that', indicating the circle of pain will not end anytime soon, even with the best intentions.

Best Line: "But you became my horror". -- Kay

17. (Almost) No One Fucks with Moe Greene (The Godfather)

Why It's Cool: The guy who built Vegas is simply shocked someone would try to buy him out so disrespectfully. But as big time as Moe Greene is, he doesn't quite understand how much bigger Michael Corleone is. He'll find out, of course. But Moe Greene gets to walk away this time, pride intact.

And, almost in response to Fredo's (the late John Cazale) need to please everyone, Michael gives him a warning he, well, didn't quite take to heart.

Best Line: "You straightened my brother out?" -- Michael

16. One Last Time Together (The Godfather, Part II)

Why It's Cool: The second Godfather film ends on an interesting note: showing a flashback to a surprise birthday dinner for Vito Corleone. This is after seeing all the events of the first two films, so the change in mood is pretty shocking. For one, you see Sonny (James Caan) breathing, but still a hothead. You see a young Michael, anything but ambitious and, if anything, rebellious.

You see noble family man Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) being the most loyal even though he is not blood. You see a meek Connie (Talia Shire), long before she became an abused wife, a world trotting hussy, a subservient sister and, later, a cold killer on par with Michael. And, well, there is loving, just-wants-to-please Fredo.

The scene comes at such a contrast to the death and destruction that has taken place for six plus hours, yet acts as a unique post-film foreshadowing (if that makes sense) to that death and destruction to come. Yet, it also serves as a breather from the pain ... a reminder that this was once a relatively innocent brood.

Best Line: "Mikey, you got to understand. Your father has plans for you ... " -- Tom

15. The Birth of the Godfather, Part 2 (The Godfather, Part II)

Why It's Cool: Revenge can wait ... oh ... 15-20 years, right? In the opening of the Godfather, Part II, we see Vito Corleone's brother and mother killed by Don Ciccio. This, after hearing Ciccio killed Vito's father too. Once thought too dumb to exact revenge, Vito takes his time, slowly gaining friends and building an empire, until he has the perfect opportunity to revisit the site of his mother's murder and, despite the age and weak memory of Don Ciccio, gives the man one of the most brutal deaths in the trilogy. It was three hours in the making, but we see Vito go from running victim to conquering hero (?).

Best Line: " ... and this is for you". -- Vito

1 comment:

  1. Personally when it comes to Coppola I prefer "Apocalypse Now" at least story-wise, largely because every time I've tried to watch "The Godfather" I got lost in the million different plot threads and lost track of the thousand different characters making it very confusing when a guy in a fedora and suit got whacked and I wasn't sure who it was.

    Of course, that said, if nothing else I can at least appreciate "The Godfather" on a technical level even if I personally didn't enjoy it, if only for Marlon Brando's great performance and the really impressive period detail.


Just making sure you're not Skynet ...