Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, Diane Keaton, John Cazale
Have I Seen it Before: At 202 minutes, it is quite a commitment, and yet I make that commitment as often as I possibly can.
Did I Like It: What kind of sociopath would I be if I said no?
Of course, The Godfather Part II is a great film. There is no reasonable way to deny this, and I wouldn’t try to do so, even if I wanted to. What’s more, anything that could be written about this film has already been done so. It is a dense, rich meal of intrigue, tragedy, and machismo. Coppola’s output may have fluctuated fairly wildly with his fortunes in Hollywood, but when his story is done he will have still made several truly great films, and a couple of bottles of affordable, yet drinkable wine.
And so, on my twentieth or so screening of this film, I am mostly struck by little moments or feelings as the film unfurls.
Pacino’s unrelenting, patient ruthlessness. He is equal parts cautionary tale and towering example of not taking shit from anyone. It’s the final eerily quiet performance from the man before he started shouting in Dog Day Afternoon and has yet to stop. Actually, I suppose he starts #yellingpacino in this movie in a few scenes, primarily when confronted with the attack on his Tahoe compound and later when he is confronted with the fact that, despite his machiavellian perfection in ealing with the underworld, Kay Corleone (Keaton) sees right through him and will not abide his opportunistic evil.
James Caan’s cameo in the final scene, along with the pointedly unknowable absence of Marlon Brando. Paramount, Coppola, and Brando could not come to any sort of an accord to get him to make the small appearance, but if you ask me, Michael’s story is more complete if he is completely removed from his father for the runtime.
And speaking of tragedies with fathers, the small moment of this film that sticks with me forever is seldom written about, but for my money is the linchpin of not just the film, but the entire Corleone saga. The family boards a train leaving Sicily and Vito (De Niro) tells his youngest son to, “Say goodbye, Michael.” Can’t distill the series down more perfectly than that.