The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Reviewed on 2011 February 9
This is Coppola’s follow-up to The Godfather, and one of the rare cases of the sequel being as well-crafted as the original.
The title screen with a brooding Michael Corleone (Pacino, of course) quickly fades to 1901 Corleone, Sicily, where we see what made young Vito Andolini (Oreste Baldini as a child and Robert DeNiro as a young man) ultimately morph into Don Vito Corleone. Michael is running the crime family business, picking up the Vegas end of things where Moe Green left off, nosing into politics and trying to wash a veneer of legitimacy over the syndicate stuff. The life is taking its toll on the family, with Fredo’s (John Cazale) pathetic marriage and Connie’s (Talia Shire) tension with the family and assorted men on her arm. Meanwhile, Michael tries expanding into Cuba.
The non-linear storyline, weaving back and forth between Michael Corleone and Vito as a young man, makes this one of the best movies of the ’70s, if not all time. Coppola tinkered with the formula enough to keep it fresh but he kept what works. Just as The Godfather had a nod to Appalachia with the Corleone summit and parallels the real mob spread to Vegas, this hints at Valachi squealing at the Mafia hearings and touches on the fall of Cuba. The acting from DeNiro, Pacino and the rest of the crew is its usual A-game stuff, and with the exception of the amazing opening of the first Godfather, with Bonasera intoning “I believe in America” and which few things can touch, the script is the same caliber as the first Godfather.
Four Chocolate Morsels.