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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

The Godfather: Part 2 (1974) ft. Braden Ganter


What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: The evolution of two men within the Corleone crime family. One on the rise and his journey to becoming the Don, and the other fixated on cementing his place as the Don by eliminating all rivals.


Plot Summary: The saga of the Corleone family continues with two parallel storylines. The first follows the continuation of Michael Corleone’s control of the family and the family’s criminal interests. The second, in flashbacks, follows Vito’s life from Corleone, Sicily to America and on his journey to becoming the Godfather. Both stories tell of compromise, betrayal, and corruption by power, but the dichotomy is in which story seems congratulatory and which seems like a tragedy.


Cast:

  • Frances Ford Coppola (Director/Writer)

  • Mario Puzo (Co-Writer)

  • Al Pacino as Michael Corleone

  • Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen

  • Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone

  • Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone

  • Oreste Baldini as young Vito Corleone

  • John Cazale as Fredo Corleone

  • Talia Shire as Connie Corleone

  • Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth

  • Michael V. Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli

  • G. D. Spradlin as Senator Pat Geary

  • Richard Bright as Al Neri

  • Gastone Moschin as Don Fanucci

*Recognition:

  • The Godfather: Part 2 was wide-released on December 20, 1974.

  • Although The Godfather Part II did not surpass the original film commercially, it grossed $47.5 million in the United States and Canada, was Paramount Pictures' highest-grossing film of 1974, and the seventh-highest-grossing picture in the United States.

  • It currently holds a 96% among critics on RT, a score of 90 on Metacritic and is listed as one of their must-see movies, and a 4.5 out of 5 average on Letterboxd.

  • The Godfather Part II was featured on Sight & Sound's Director's list of the ten greatest films of all time in 1992 (ranked at No. 9) and 2002 (where it was ranked at No. 2. The critics ranked it at No. 4)

  • On the 2012 list by the same magazine, the film was ranked at No. 31 by critics and at No. 30 by directors.

  • In 2006, the Writers Guild of America ranked the film's screenplay (Written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola) the 10th greatest ever.

  • In 1999, it ranked No. 7 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the "100 Greatest Movies of All Time", and #1 on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest Movies of All Time on TV and Video".

  • In 1999, The Village Voice ranked The Godfather Part II at No. 31 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list, based on a poll of critics.

  • In January 2002, the film (along with The Godfather) made the list of the "Top 100 Essential Films of All Time" by the National Society of Film Critics.

  • In 2017, it ranked No. 12 on Empire magazine's reader's poll of The 100 Greatest Movies. In a earlier poll held by the same magazine in 2008, it was voted 19th on the list of 'The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time'.

  • Many believe Pacino's performance in The Godfather Part II is his finest acting work, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was criticized for awarding the Academy Award for Best Actor that year to Art Carney for his role in Harry and Tonto. It is now regarded as one of the greatest performances in film history.

  • In 2006, Premiere issued its list of "The 100 Greatest Performances of all Time", putting Pacino's performance at #20. Later in 2009, Total Film issued "The 150 Greatest Performances of All Time", ranking Pacino's performance fourth place.

  • The Godfather: Part 2 was nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Actor (Pacino), Supporting Actor (Gazzo and Strasberg), Supporting Actress (Shire), and Costume Design.

  • The film won Best Picture, Director (Coppola), Supporting Actor (De Niro), Adapted Screenplay (Puzo and Coppola), Art Direction, and Dramatic Score.

  • This film is the first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II remain the only original/sequel combination both to win Best Picture.

  • Along with The Lord of the Rings, The Godfather Trilogy shares the distinction that all of its installments were nominated for Best Picture; additionally, The Godfather Part II and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King are the only sequels to win Best Picture.

  • The Godfather: Part 2 was recognized by the American Film Institute on the following lists:

    • 1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – #32

    • 2003: AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:

      • Michael Corleone – #11 Villain

    • 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

      • "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." – #58

      • "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart." – Nominated

      • "Michael, we're bigger than U.S. Steel." – Nominated

    • 2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #32

    • 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10 – #3 Gangster Film and Nominated Epic Film

Did You Know:

  • Francis Ford Coppola considered bringing Marlon Brando back to play Vito Corleone as a young man, convinced that he could play him at any age. As he worked on the script, though, he remembered Robert De Niro's exceptional audition for The Godfather (1972) and cast him without offering the part to Brando.

  • Robert De Niro spent four months learning to speak the Sicilian dialect of Italian in order to play Vito Corleone, and lived in Sicily for three months. Nearly all of the dialogue that his character speaks in the film was in Sicilian.

  • When little Vito arrives at Ellis Island, he is marked with a circled X. Ellis Island immigrants were marked with this if the inspector believed the person had a mental or physical defect.

  • Hyman Roth's character is loosely based on real-life mobster Meyer Lansky. Lansky, who at the time of the film's release was living in Miami, reportedly phoned Lee Strasberg and said, "Now, why couldn't you have made me more sympathetic? After all, I am a grandfather."

  • Francis Ford Coppola had a horrible time directing The Godfather (1972) and asked to pick a different director for the sequel, while taking the title of producer for himself. He chose Martin Scorsese, who the film executives rejected. Thus, Coppola agreed to direct the film, with a few conditions.

  • Though it claims to be based on the novel by Mario Puzo, only the scenes about the young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) have any basis in the book. Only one chapter in the book is devoted to Vito's youth and young adulthood. The story revolving around Michael (Al Pacino) and the family in Las Vegas is entirely unique to the film.

  • Marlon Brando was scheduled to return for a cameo in the flashback at the end of the film but, because of the way Paramount Pictures treated him during The Godfather (1972), he did not show up for shooting on the day the scene was filmed. Francis Ford Coppola re-wrote the scene without Vito, and it was filmed the next day.

  • James Caan asked that he be paid the same amount of money to play Santino 'Sonny' Corleone at the end of the film in the flashback as he was paid to do The Godfather (1972). He got his wish.

  • Danny Aiello's line, "Michael Corleone says hello", was completely ad-libbed. Francis Ford Coppola loved it and asked him to do it again in the retakes. Aiello later claimed (on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast) that, due to being nervous about working with Coppola, he didn't hear himself when he said the line and, to this day, has no idea why he said it.

  • Originally, it was supposed to be Clemenza who agrees to testify against the Corleones. According to Francis Ford Coppola, Richard S. Castellano (who was the highest paid actor in The Godfather (1972)) wanted to write his own lines and wanted a large salary increase. Consequently, his character was replaced by Frankie Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo), who received an Oscar nomination for the performance. But according to Ardell Sheridan, Castellano refused to regain the fifty pounds required to for the role due to health reasons, so Coppola decided to replace him rather than have a thinner Clemenza.

  • Lee Strasberg came out of retirement to play Hyman Roth after a specific request from Al Pacino. He was unwilling at first, but agreed to do it after a forty-five-minute meeting with Francis Ford Coppola's father, Carmine Coppola.

Best Performance: Francis Ford Coppola (Director/Writer)/Al Pacino (Michael)

Best Secondary Performance: Francis Ford Coppola (Director/Writer)/Robert De Niro (Vito) /Lee Strasberg (Roth)

Most Charismatic Award: Robert De Niro (Vito)/Lee Strasburg (Roth)/John Cazale (Fredo)

Best Scene:

  • Vito's Family History

  • Senator Geary

  • Failed Hit on Michael

  • Michael Visits Roth and Pentangeli

  • Hit on Pentangeli

  • Cuba

  • You Broke My Heart

  • Vito Kills the Black Hand

  • Vito's Sicillian Revenge

  • Pentangeli's Testimony

  • Kay's Abortion

  • Hail Mary Fishing

  • Corleone Family Dinner

Favorite Scene: Vito Kills the Black Hand/Corleone Family Dinner/Hit on Pentangeli

Most Indelible Moment: Corleone Family Dinner/Hail Mary Fishing


In Memorium:

  • Vin Scully, 94, American Hall of Fame sportscaster (Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers)

  • Heather Gray, 50, American television producer (The Talk, The Tyra Banks Show).

  • George Bartenieff, 89, German-American actor (Hercules in New York, See No Evil/Hear No Evil, Cookie).

  • Pat Carroll, 95, American actress (The Little Mermaid, The Danny Thomas Show, Caesar's Hour), Emmy winner (1957).

  • Nichelle Nichols, 89, American actress (Star Trek, Truck Turner, Snow Dogs).

  • Mary Alice, 85, American actress (Fences, A Different World, The Matrix Revolutions), Tony winner (1987).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Michael Corleone: My father taught me many things here - he taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.


Hyman Roth : I don't trust a doctor who can hardly speak English.


Michael Corleone: What do you want from me? Do you expect me to let you go? Do you expect me to let you take my children from me?


Michael Corleone: I don't feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.


Michael Corleone : He's has been dying from the same heart attack for the last twenty years.


Michael Corleone: I saw a strange thing today. Some rebels were being arrested. One of them pulled the pin on a grenade. He took himself and the captain of the command with him. Now, soldiers are paid to fight; the rebels aren't.

Hyman Roth: What does that tell you?

Michael Corleone: They could win.


Michael Corleone: If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.


Michael: I have my own plans for my future.


Michael Corleone: I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!


Kay Corleone: Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn't a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that's unholy and evil. I didn't want your son, Michael! I wouldn't bring another one of you sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael! It was a son Michael! A son! And I had it killed because this must all end!

[Michael's eyes begin to bulge]

Kay Corleone: I know now that it's over. I knew it then. There would be no way, Michael... no way you could ever forgive me not with this Sicilian thing that's been going on for 2,000 years.


Senator Pat Geary: I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself. You and your whole fucking family.

Michael Corleone: We're both part of the same hypocrisy, senator, but never think it applies to my family.


Fredo Corleone: I'm your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over!

Michael Corleone: That's the way Pop wanted it.

Fredo Corleone: It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!


Senator Pat Geary: I want your answer and the money by noon tomorrow. And one more thing. Don't you contact me again, ever. From now on, you deal with Turnbull.

Michael Corleone: Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.


Tom Hagen: When a plot against the Emperor failed... the plotters were always given a chance... to let their families keep their fortunes. Right?

Frank Pentangeli: Yeah, but only the rich guys, Tom. The little guys got knocked off and all their estates went to the Emperors. Unless they went home and killed themselves, then nothing happened. And the families... the families were taken care of.

Tom Hagen: That was a good break. A nice deal.

Frank Pentangeli: Yeah... They went home... and sat in a hot bath... opened up their veins... and bled to death... and sometimes they had a little party before they did it.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9.5

Impact/Significance: 8.5

Novelty: 8.83

Classic-ness: 9

Rewatchability: 8.08

Audience Score: 9.45 (92% Google, 97% RT)

Total: 53.36


Remaining Questions:

  • How does Michael know so quickly that it's Roth behind everything?

  • Was the hit on Pentangeli aborted on purpose?

  • Why did Michael kill Fredo?

  • Did Tom know about the abortion?

  • Who opened the drapes?

  • Which is the better movie: The Godfather or Part 2?

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