17. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
My expectations were pretty high going into this one. A lot of people swear that this is best movie ever made, even better than the first one. I once heard someone describe it as having the best screenplay ever written. This film is so well-regarded it hurts. And unfortunately it was pretty underwhelming. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, because I did. It was good, just not Van Johnson good.
Most of the reviews I read offered much ballyhoo about the seamless transitions between Michael Corleone’s life in the present and Vito Corleone’s life in the past. But at times I found it very clunky. It would just sometimes happen out of nowhere, and there didn’t seem to be a connection between what was going on in past and present. Come on Coppola at least gimme some heavy handed symbolism man.
It seemed like it was almost an arbitrary decision to incorporate Vito Corleone’s story into the film. Somebody was probably like “hey lets get Robert De Niro to play that guy Brando played in the first one”. I think the Don Corleone sequences would have worked better in the context of the first film, as they would coincide with Michael’s own entry into the underworld.
I can’t help but think that Leone’s “Once Upon A Time In America” did the whole multiple time-frame thing so much better. Everything just went smoother, and being that it was only one character’s life being dealt with it just made more sense to tell his story with flashback sequences. Plus it has Robet De Niro too.
What I did like about the film was that it made me feel gangsta once again. It’s well acted and fast paced. Plus the sequence described below is pretty much the greatest shit ever:
Frank Pentangeli has made a deal with the FBI to testify against Michael, believing he was the one who organized the attempt on his life. At the hearing in which Pentangeli is to testify, Michael arrives accompanied by Pentangeli’s brother Vincenzo, brought in from Sicily, whose surprise presence causes Frank to recant his previous statements about Michael. When Pentangeli is pressed, he claims that he just told the FBI what they wanted to hear. With no witness to testify against Michael the committee adjourns, with Hagen, acting as Michael’s lawyer, loudly demanding an apology.
Vincenzo is pretty much awesome. He says nothing, does nothing but show up and look indifferent, and then he leaves. But he is so badass, the personification of intimidation.
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film 8/10 simply because I gave part 1 a 9, and I didn’t like this one as much. But really the only fault I have with film is just the clunkier aspects of the screenplay, which to be honest is a pretty small detail.