Audioburst Search

50 Years Of 'The Godfather'


Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from discover who alerts you if they find your social security number on any one of thousands of risky websites. Alerts are free for card members just sign up online. Learn more at discover dot com slash free alerts. Limitations apply from WHYY in Philadelphia. This is fresh air. I'm David being Cooley in for Terry gross, leave the gun. Hey can only today. We celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Mario Puzo 's bestselling novel. The godfather he was the first to use the term godfather to describe the head of a mafia family, the more. I use it during the book, the more became what was so not a mafia uses everybody uses it, the word didn't exist. Also Francis Ford Coppola who directed the godfather films the studio wanted Coppola to screen test Marlon Brando for the title role. Coppola was amazed by Brando during the audition. But then he said all he's shot in the throat in story should talk like this throat right in front of my eyes. He transformed himself. Also, Justin Chang reviews, the new film, captain marvel that's all coming up on fresh air. This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Mario Puzo. The godfather a new addition has just been released with an introduction by Francis. Ford Coppola Coppola and Puzo co wrote the screenplays for all three godfather films. This is from the opening scene of the first one. Gentleman. He is the first time you the council the hell. Again, remember the last time that vitamin the house for a Cup of coffee. Even though my wife has gone mother child. But let's be Frank in the London. My friendship. In refrain to be meant that I didn't want to get into trouble. He phone. Is the mound. Come. A good trade, man. Good living. Please protect the juvenile court. Some long in the front like me. I come to me and say, I'm calling on the give me Justice. You don't know for friendship. It only linked to call me golfer. Said you come into my house on the day my daughters to marry the Neo asked me the murder money. Ask you just it's not just Donaldson the lie. Lie south again. She's not. How much pay? Luma said what have I done to make you take? Minnesota's was split for me. Come to me and -fensive and the scum of wounded Donna would be suffering. This very day. Butts has an honest man, like yourself should make enemies than he would become my enemies. And then they were saying. Be my friend. Some day. My never come out on your service. A lead. Except the Justice gift. I'm not as. That's. Give this to women. Aloma reliable people people that aren't going to be carried way when not murder spy on the. That's from the nineteen seventy two film. The godfather based on the novel by Mario Puzo, the book sold about twenty one million copies and inspired countless mob related novels movies and TV shows including HBO's the sopranos. Mario Puzo died in nineteen ninety nine age seventy eight Terry gross spoke with him three years earlier. He told Terry that many of the stories in the novel came from his childhood, you know, like the rug stealing scene to keeping the guns from the police. You know, the kind of stuff that happened in the family. Now, let's tell the story of the way it was told to you. Well, my brother who's older than me this guy through guns over the airway space between apartments, and my mother took them and held them form. And then he came and got back his guns, and he said, the would you like a rug? So she sent my brother over to get the rug, and my brother didn't realize the guy was still in the until he took out the gun when the cop came. So that's almost entirely in the book, and then the movie this little stuff like that. How did your mother feel about protecting? This guy's guns. Oh knows days. This is one that was very little kid that that was daughter is nothing, you know, like he was a neighbor and they wanted to do it. And you did it because you were frayed of him because you hope you know, too that he would help you out, for instance, the business about the dog being committed to stay in the apartment that happened to my family, my mother, I wanna get rid of the dog. So she went to the local guy respect, I don't even think they thought of them as criminals that will people that influence the way you would go down to you congressman, for instance, tell tell the doctor is it happening to movie land one my mother to get rid of the dog. And she didn't want to get rid of the dog. Who's gonna kick her out and? The local whatever he was never really understood what he was total inland. Not to do in one. Didn't do it. Did she do anything to pay respect to the local organized crime figures who who in part control the neighborhood? Wow. You have to remember that those figures are usually related by blood, you know, and were members of family. So you gave them presence if if you had a family member who was powerful, you know, you made sure that you gave him a present at Christmas. You know? Special occasion, which is not regarded as. Payoff in any way. For instance, my parents were up in Italy where since they were mostly little bit. When he had a letter the head to be read. They would go to the local priest to have the priest read it for them. But there would automatically bring a gift they'd bring in three or four eggs, or you know, chicken or something like that. It's a whole different relationship wasn't a bribe. It's a Mark of respect. It's not like they said, you gotta give me a piece of chicken. I didn't give me a negative. I'll read it for you. It was just understood in the same way the local neighborhood guys that had influence you gave them presence. What was the most difficult parts of adapting the novel into the screenplay? Was essentially. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was sense. Because it was the first time I've ever written the screenplay. So I didn't know what I was doing. You know, it's an came out. Right. And the story I tell is that after had one to kademi awards for the first few godfathers. I went out and bought a book unscreened didn't because I figured that. Learn you know, what it's about because of. Off the top of my head. And then I chapter book said studied godfather one is the motto of screen play. So. Stuck with the book? I'm wondering with the dialogue everything is. So not everything. But the the the characters who really have power are very euphemistic and their language. So they could be saying there could be giving you the message that they're going to kill you unless you follow their orders. But they'll be saying it in the nicest way, and of course, killing would never be mentioned. Everything's kind of beneath between the lines beneath the surface. What made you write the dialogue for these powerful? Violent people in that coded way. Does come from the way this assay Mafa, mafia operated, in fact. There's a funny story that English me came to live in Sicily, and he got a kidnapping note because they liked to collect the money for kidnapping you before they kidnap you. So they didn't have to go to the ball of kidnapping. No that was the way they operated, but this the mafia row this Englishman such a flowery note, he got paid him some sort of compliment he didn't realize they wanted like fifty grand off before they kidnap them. So the save everybody into trouble going through kidnapping. But it was very flower, your eminence, we love you. You know will do anything. Having trouble. Give us a call. You know? And and meanwhile. Just send us fifty grand. You've never had any trouble with anybody. But that's how they talk. That's where I got it from they will great believes in collecting money before doing the job. One of the most famous lines that you that you came up with was about making an offer you can't refuse. Does that line have its roots in mob Lor that you knew or no I made it up. I wrote memos on how you plant that line because I was sure would become a famous line. You know, I recognize the fact that would become one of those lines. People would always be using. So that was really. Show the Catholic constructed. Comes true. Please tell jogging. I saw you know one Johnny was first starting out. He was signed to this personal service country the big band leader. And as career got better. And better he wanted to get out of it. Now, Johnny is my father's godson. And my father went to see this band. Offered him ten thousand dollars to let Johnny go. The band leader said, no. So the next day. My father went to see him only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour. He signed release. For certified check at one thousand. Father made him an offer. He couldn't fuse. What was that? Luca Brasi held a gun to his head. My father shoot him that his brains or signature would be on the contract. True story. It's. Needy. S my family. Terry grows interviewed Mario Puzo in nineteen ninety six he died in nineteen ninety nine at the age of seventy eight we're celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Puzo novel. The godfather which was published fifty years ago this weekend. After a short break will hear Terry's interview. With Francis Ford Coppola, the director of the godfather films. This is fresh air. This message comes from NPR sponsor wicks dot com with wicks you can create your very own professional website. Choose a designer made simply or let weeks artificial design intelligence build your site for you with advanced design features. You can tell your story exactly the way you want. It's easy to start a blog and online store or create innovates, and you can share it all on social media in click. Get started now by going to wicks dot com. That's W I X dot com slash fresh air to get ten percent off today. We're celebrating the golden anniversary of the publication of the godfather. Now, let's hear from Francis. Ford Coppola who directed and co wrote all three godfather films, Terry gross spoke with him in two thousand sixteen you're invited to the movie by the studio by paramount it right? And he sat down and read the book in you. Right. I ready to. Eagerly, but barely finished it. And you almost didn't make the movie because you didn't really like the book and spite of the nice things he said about Mario Puzo. What didn't you like about the book? Well, I had thought from its title and intriguing logo and the name. Mario Puzo that this was a kind of Italian intellectual writer like kind of, you know, more obvious something, and it was going to be a piece about the subject of power. And while indeed it was about power, I found the book itself. More like a kind of bestseller attempt like nerve ING Wallace book with lots of people. Don't remember it. But maybe a third if not more of the book concerned, the this young woman, Lucy Manzini and her private anatomy problems and love affair with the doctor who fix them. And I just couldn't believe how how low class that was. But you know, but that was, you know, not included in the movie, and so it didn't didn't harm the remaining. Impart, which we all know, did you ever tell Mary Puzo your thoughts about the novel? Sure, he knew and you know, he had written a beautiful book called the fortunate pilgrim, which he felt was the best book of wrote which also was about immigrants, but it was very respected by writers. And it was a beautiful book, but it didn't make money and he needed yet. He, you know, like, so many Diane Mahia doored his children. They wanted to give his children some better life. And he wrote this hoping it could make a lot of money for them itself. And yeah, the Mariel Puzo novel. The godfather said in the seventies the movie part one is set starts out in the mid nineteen forties. Just after World War Two. Why did you want to change the time that it was set? I didn't change the time. That's the way the novels. The novel starts out. Exactly. I was very loyal to to the novel after I had derived what the movie would be and it was set in in in the forties. Michael at the wedding was in uniform still he had sort of broken. His father's heart a little by kind of signing up for the army as though he could be loyal to the country even beyond his loyalty to the father. So yeah, that was one of my first arguments with with the producers was I felt that should be set in the forties. They had wanted. And and really had a script. It said in the seventies. Yeah. And you know, why of course, if you make a movie during the contemporary period that the movies being made you don't have to have special cars. You don't have to have special costumes. You don't have to spend all of that money trying to create a period. Okay. So that was one of your first fights with the studio very big fight because they had planned to use the script. I mean the script had hippies in it because it was being going to be set in the seventies. And they wanted to shoot it in in Kansas City. In fact, they took me on a trip to look around at a talion neighborhoods in Kansas City. And I you know, I had done this study, which this book with discussing had laid bare was that the period of the forties and the the textures of the forties. And in fact, you'd go into a railroad station and see guys in uniform. And and it was like America on the on the the new beginning as it were was and that it was set in New York. I was very adamant and New York in those days when we shot had gotten a black eye of being very tough and not good place to shoot very expensive place to shoot. So studio was just had this young director who. Who was hired mainly because he was talion American, and they figured that would possibly be good in terms of saying well in talian made the film, and also I was had some claim as a screenwriter, and they knew the script needed to be worked on. So they figured they'd get a free rewrite out of it, which they did. And also, I was young and had no power. So they figured they could just boss me around which they proceeded to begin to do. In each scene in your notebook. You have a list of pitfalls, you might fall into and perhaps the most common one that you worried about is cliche. What were your some of your biggest worries about turning the material into cliches? Well, having been raised in the family of talian Americans who all of them were accomplished musicians, they weren't gangsta certainly, but but so much of the detail of life. What the bottle of Zet looked like the fact that they would sometime send that for Chinese food. I knew a lot of stuff through living with my my father, and my uncles, and my family that I use those details in the film, and and my fear was that, you know account. We're always talk elected the people like the Marx, brother, Chico Marx. And there were so many cliches related to us as as the culture of our family that I that. I certainly, you know, and also I knew that the talian American didn't speak with an Italian accent one of my big arguments with the studio was saying, well, you know, he wouldn't speak with he was be with a Brooklyn accent. It'd be more like Eddie Carbone in view from. The bridge. So I knew things just by having lived them that I could avoid cliches also wanted to avoid the dialogue sounding two guys and dolls -i. So what were your fears there? Well, just that, you know, Italian Americans were were always portrayed in the movies, even on stages certain way gangsters were and and I knew different because that was those what my those are my family. My my father was this the first flu of the NBC symphony. So he he was you know, certainly man of great culture and education. But you know, he he also the food aid. And what it was like in our home was was something I could borrow in an invest in the film to give it offensively the character Clemenza who is like very heavy that you're not only a heavy. He's fit. He weighs a lot. He's heavy. He like, he's the one who's cooking the sauce and the movie, and you write about him in your knows he has to be believable as the type that would be everybody's favorite uncle. But also killer. Did you have an uncle who resembled him in any way? I did I had they were twins and they both little heavy set. And they were the least accomplished of all the boys. My my grandfather sons were fine musicians and excellent engineers and the but the twins kind of where we're not. But they were the youngest and to us kids. We we love them because they we could always get them to take us to the movies. We could always full them into into driving somewhere, and they weren't like Clemenza in that they were favored uncles, but but also the funny thing note that is fun is that when I wrote the scene of Clemenza cooking. I can I can cook. So when I wrote the scene of of Clemenza describing. Had to make a tomato sauce with the which with the trick of meat sauce is that you put a tablespoon of sugar, but I said in the dialogue. I said, well, I you Brown some sausage. And then you baba and the note from Mario on the script said fantas gangsters don't Brown. Gangsters fry. So he so that's why Mario was he was always like, you know, correcting with notes on the page, and he was when will it's true, you know, gangsters would never say Brown. So casting Moreland Brown was just such a really really stroke and stroke of luck as euro, but to get him, and I wanna play Mary Puzo told me in nineteen Ninety-six when I interviewed him about casting Brando, but how Brando got cast in the movie. So can I play that for you? And then okay, this Puzder who wrote the novel, the godfather speaking with me in nineteen Ninety-six about casting, Moreland Brando. I'm the guy picked burn you did pick Brando. All sure I I wrote him a letter, and he called me up, and we had a chat, and then I tried to get paramount taken and they refused, and then director came on and picture. I took the director Francis Copeland. He managed to talk paramount into letting Brandon play the world, but was my day the class Branko, which caused me trouble bef-. Four finally got done. What did you say in your letter to Marlon Brando when you were inviting him to play the part? I think it was something like help they're going to kill. You're gonna kill me. They're getting cancer. I think it was dining Danny Thomas's. Thomas. Well, he was going to buy Paramount's we could play the ro at that time paramount wasn't really worth that much. And then he was very richest television. And I read an item he was going to buy Paramount Pictures, so we could play the godfather. So that scared me so much. I wrote a letter to though, I I knew some people who noon, so you know, I had an entree, and you gave me very good advice. He said no studio will hire me wait until you get a director and then talking to do and he's quite right. When I talked to the studio, they swatting never Heim Rando. Francis, Ford Coppola, you're the director, I suppose Puzo talk to you. And you made it happened. Can you pick up the story from there? Well, it's true that Mario had always liked the idea of brand of and you know, Mario was often Bayshore he was not really on the scene so much even a lot of my work with him was my sending him drafts in him writing notes. So although he had posed the idea of of the godfather being Brando. I don't even know if he told me that because I just was hit by a whole bunch of ideas from the studio, Danny Thomas was one Ernest borgnine. It was a whole bunch of ideas. Even Carlo Ponti was suggested. And Finally, I came down to the thing about the character of of that character was that, you know, you couldn't find anyone knew as we had done for all the other parts out. Pacino was totally unknown. Johnny Casale was. Bobby vowels wrote? He was a lot of new people got big parts. But like a man who is supposed to be in sixties couldn't be new and like had never been in anything before. Because what was he doing all those years? So finally with my colleague in casting fed Reuss, we said well who the two greatest actors in the world. So we said well Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando each one had a difficulty of for that part alleviate was British. He was perfect AG looked like he looked like one of the real guys, Genovese and Brando was only forty seven years old. He was extremely handsome as always had long, flowing, blond hair. And most important he had just been in some pictures. Notably one by the great Ponta Corvo called the burn. That was a huge flop. Tremendous financial flops. So the studio felt that Brando was supposedly difficult to work with sort of air responsible. You know would cause big delays. The film was on the budget for two and a half million dollars. You have to understand it wasn't like we throw money around and my decision to make it in the forties and have period cars and shoot in New York. But was already impacting the cost. That's one of the reasons why I was so unpopular, but they also hated my my casting ideas, they hated out but chino for the role of Michael, and they hated Marlon Brando for the role role of of the of the godfather, and I was told categorically by the president of Paramount's Francis says the president para pictures, I tell you here, and now Marlon Brando will never appear in this motion picture, and I forbid you to bring it up again. When he said, I forbid you bring it up again, I like feigned that I just fell on the floor on the carpet. And like, you know, as if you know what? And then I said, what am I supposed to do? If you tell me, I can't even discuss it. How can I be director? If if if the part, I think should be cast that you won't even let me talk about it. And I said all right. We'll we'll we'll tell you what this way one. If you will do the movie for free to if he will put up with he'll do a screen test and three if you'll put up a million dollar bond that he will in no way have any misbehavior that causes the, you know, the overrun of the picture budget. Then you can do it. So I said, I accept. You know? So at least they were saying if I did three things have a screen test. If I could get him to do the movie nothing, and if I could haven't put up a million dollars, which is absurd, but but at least I said, I accept meaning. Okay. Now, I can talk about it. So did he do the movie for free? No, I called him up, and I said to Marlin Marlin, you know, of course, this is an Italian American. You know, wouldn't it be fun? If we could do a little experiment and kind of improv and see what playing in the tie might be like that was my way to talk to an actor essentially asking for a screen test. But I didn't put it in those ways. And I knew that if I could do something with this little screen tests that was convincing the absurd idea of him doing it for nothing, although they didn't pay much more than I think they're paid him scale, which was insult-. And obviously the putting up a bond to prevent misbehavior. Was you know, sometimes, you know, you you, you you say you accept terms meaning that you just have a way to continue. So the important thing was to do some sort of a little screen test that I could get on tape in and show till all these executives. Sill you played this kind of little trick. And he did he did improv on or whatever on on on film for you. What did he bring to that? Audition that he didn't realize wasn't addition always heard the rumor that Marlon Brando didn't like loud noises, always wore things in his ears. So I took a couple of my colleague from San Francisco from this period of, you know, having a young filmmakers All Africa. And I told the ball to dress in black and no one was to speak. We do sign language, and so we descended on Marlins house early in the morning. He wasn't up and these Inge's went to different quantities and set up their cameras, and I also brought a whole bunch of Italian sausage and little talion cigars and prevalant and little things, and I put them in dishes around just without even saying what I was doing. And then the door opened they said he was going to wake up in the door open. Now came this beautiful man in Japanese robe with flowing blonde hair. And I'm shooting all of this and he came out, and he didn't talk very much. He, you know, he's he's Marlin was brilliant, man. And he. Just knew what was going on instantly. And he I remember he came in. He took his hair he rolled it up and made it sorta like a bun in the back in any took shoe polish in the made, a news mumbling the whole team, and he made the shoe polish and made his hair black, and then he put on the shirt that I had brought an I remember him folding, the Pell lillies, those guys always lapel always folded he said, and and right in front of my eyes with then he said, oh, he's shot in the throat in story. Somebody should talk like this throat, and he started doing that. And right in front of my eyes, he transformed himself into this character. And I I couldn't believe it. And then he started picking up the sausage in eating it. And he he just gravitated to the props and was using it to create a kind of talionis the way he did it and the whole time he was going like this. He was going. He wasn't saying anything which was funny because his phone rang. His this was his home this phone rang, and he picked up the phone. Who has called? What are they gonna think? But when it was all done I had this tape, and it was quite remarkable people were afraid in the studio that brand would be hard to work with. And he would create problems did happen. Not at all. He was he was a joy to you. You know, you don't talk allow tomorrow. And you sorta just give him like, I would take a cat and put it in his hands or I would have some Italian props or, you know, you don't direct him by talking about acting. What he likes to hear is make it more angry. They make it less angry make it sweeter. You know? He doesn't wanna have any acting kind of talk. But he he knows obviously what he's doing. And you know at had the the blessing of having the cast together for about three days. So all of the actors, we got together we had the first thing we did was to have dinner up in patsies restaurant arou-. The table with Marlene sitting women all met him for the first time sitting as the father, and I'll to his right and Jimmy to his left. Bobby on my sister tally with serving the talian food, and they did an improv together as a family, and when that was over they were family. To Steph cheeks that he'd look really Jolie. Yes. He said he wanted to look like a bulldog. So the studio didn't want you to cast Al Pacino in the role of Michael Corleones? So how did you that one? Well, the problem is that when I had known out a little bit before. So when I read the godfather book as I had him pictured in my mind. I saw him walking through Sicily with the tune shepherds with their shotguns. And I couldn't get that out of my mind. I couldn't see Ryan O'Neal who is what Paramount's first choice was. And I couldn't see Bob Redford. And of course, you know, it's true that Sicilians are often blonde blue eyed because of the French presence in Sisley for you know, over one hundred years, but I saw Pacino and I just wouldn't give up on him. And I began to realize that you know, that Bob Evans, who who was the chief executive, and you know, he he was very tough on me. But I have to say when I speak. He he's not without talent. He definitely is a man with talent this just that he's he wanted really a Michael that was better looking taller guy like him. I wanted Michael to be more like a southern Italian more. Like me Francis Ford Coppola speaking to Terry gross in two thousand sixteen more after a break. This is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message. Come from state farm, who's agents know that your car and home are more than just big purchases. They're a big part of your life. You put the time into making them your own. So now, it's time to protect them with your own personal state farm agents. Not only do they truly get you. But they'll be there for you. When you need them. And with over nineteen thousand agents in neighborhoods across the US, there could be one just around the corner. More at state farm dot com or one eight hundred state farm state farm here to help life. Go right. And this week on Latino USA wisdom into one all female immigrant attention facility in Texas and a specific case to ask how and why this system allows for sexual abuse of detainees to continue year after year. That's this week. I'm not the USA. Let's get back to Terry's 2016 interview with Francis Ford Coppola, so I want to ask you about the final scene of the godfather where Michael basically draws the line between what's business, and what's family came wants to know, if it's true that Michael kill Carlo his brother-in-law, his sister's husband, and Michael says, you know, not going to talk to you about businesses the line between family and business. But then he tells her just this once tell you lies to her and says, no, I didn't kill him. But that's been set up throughout the movie, if you even even the scene we discussed before when he goes to basket marry he's just this one time, I'll tell you. Something that I won't. Well, when he tells the story about your brains while the signature on the contract, he always limits at that. He he's telling her these things because he loves her. But that that will be the end of that that that she shouldn't ask them anymore. So at the end, you know, that is the final lie, and he closes the door on her. Watch into another room with a business meeting about to take place in in their home. Well, it's the meeting of him becoming on kissing his hand just as the door is closed and somebody else comes over one of his men comes over and shuts the door basically shuts the door on her. So the last shot we see is of his wife getting shutout. And it's really interesting place to end the movie, I don't think that's how the novel and mill novel ends with a scene that indeed we did shoot. Which is k going to church lighting candles for him. But hoping to save his soul. Yeah. You know? But but because that thread of don't ask me about my fam-. Don't ask me about my business. Don't ask me all tell you this. But I'm not going to tell him. He finally says to all right? I will answer. This just one time I will answer it. But then I won't ever again. And and she's did you kill him. And he says, no. He lies to her. And then the, and I just felt emotionally that when he that door gets closed on her just as the other what they call couple regimes kissing his hand that that would was the ending to go to her lighting candles was was was anticlimactic. So I ended there. Kind of like her because she loved him and she believed in him. And we like him a lot at the beginning. I mean in the sense that like he is not part of the killing. He's not connected to the business. He slowly becomes part of it. And we have to keep asking ourselves who is he becoming they're out the film, and how do we feel about him? I always, you know, when I make a movie, I always have to have a theme preferably in one word that I can get my when I made the conversation. The theme was privacy. When I made the godfather of the theme was succession, and I taught my children to try to know what that big theme is because a lot you you have to ask there, so many questions everyday, she have long hair short hair should she wear dresses Kirch it he have car o. Should it be a bicycle, and you, you know, the answer. So you just find them off. But once in a while, you don't know the answer. And that's when you say, well, what is the fem-? I remember in the in the conversation will we picking sort of trench coats for the character that Gene Hackman, and I didn't know which one I want to look too much like a detector wasn't really the tech. And then I said to myself, well, what's the female they said privacy. So that was one coat that was a plastic coat that you could see through. So I chose that. So your theme. In the case of godfather being succession. I would always know that as long as I was telling the story of the succession of was king at three sons, and one was very this one was very that. And blah, blah, I knew that what what I was doing. Thank you so much for talking with us about the godfather. Thank you so much for making the godfather and for insisting on the things that you wanted to make it as good as it is. Thank you so much for your wonderful program, which I enjoyed throat many years director and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola speaking to Terry gross in two thousand sixteen he's written a new introduction for the fiftieth anniversary edition of Mario Puzo. The godfather which was published this week. True. Business came is it true. Don't ask me about my biz. No. This one time. This one time aghast me about my face. Two. Nope. Three. Coming up. Film critic Justin Chang reviews, the latest superhero movie from the marvel universe, captain marvel. This is fresh air. This message comes from NPR sponsor Comcast business. The pace of business is changing. That's why Comcast business is moving beyond beyond connecting to helping you with technology that provides better experiences beyond network complexity two zero touch one box world from having the nation's largest gig speed network to solutions that exceed expectations. They're helping more businesses innovate in more places. Comcast business beyond fast, captain marvel. Starring reloaded is the female superhero opens today, captain marvel premiered in nineteen sixty eight comic by ROY Thomas, and gene Colan the movie features Samuel L Jackson in his recurring of injures role as shield agent, Nick fury. Film critic, Justin. Chang has this review assuming you don't count the ill-fated two thousand five Jennifer garner vehicle. Electra captain marvel is the first marvel comic book movie adaptation, anchored, by female superhero. I'm not sure whether to cya that sad statistic or plov the studio for finally, overcoming it. It's hard not to have equally mixed feelings about the movie. This is diverting entertainment with tricky, mind-bending origin story, a sly sense of humor and gamely performance by Oscar winner pre Larsen as Carol danvers, aka captain marvel but much of the telling feels bland routine a pleasant feature length introduction to a character who feels more sketched in than fully realized who is captain marvel due to a combination of intense. Trauma and selective amnesia. She isn't entirely sure herself. She's the Jason Bourne of marvel fantasy figures, and we're supposed to piece together her identity away. Outside her when we first meet, Carol. She has known as Veres a powerful warrior in a rubber green suit who can shoot powerful photon blasts from her fists her people a mighty alien civilization known as the Cree are at war with a race of green skinned shape. Shifting beings called scrolls. Carol is taken prisoner during a battle with the scrolls who try to infiltrate her memories a dizzying stream of flashbacks involving down US air force plane. So just there may be more to her past in her powers than meets the eye. Eventually Carol escapes, the scrolls and crash lands on earth in the year nineteen ninety five and which point the movie tumbles down a moderately amusing rabbit hole of nineties nostalgia. Their obligatory jokes about old technology. Remember dial up internet and blockbuster video and soundtrack loaded with nirvana TLC, and no doubt. It will. Of course, be years before iron man Thor cap. In America and all the rest join forces as the avengers at one point Carol runs into a young Nick fury played by Samuel L Jackson. Thanks to the help of some expert digital aging effects. The allusion is pretty convincing. They tentatively joined forces, but first Carol interrogates fury to make sure it's really him and not a scroll in disguise where are you going ons? Ville Alabama technically, I don't remember that part. I just knew what I said pass first job soldier outta high school. That's right. Full bird. Colonel spy where the Cold War everywhere. Belfast Bucharest Belgrade Budapest on like these. In writing a desk for the past six years trying to figure out where future enemies coming from never cared to me, they will be coming from above name detail. So bizarre scroll could never fabricated. Toasters cut diagonally. I can't eat it. You didn't need that. Did you know? No, I didn't. But I enjoyed it. Jackson isn't the only standout in the supporting cast a net mending plays the Crees god-like leader aptly named the supreme intelligence. But she also turns up as a completely different character in flashbacks in air force, scientists who holds a crucial piece of Carol's identity. There's an adorable orange cat who sealing capabilities would be criminal to give away here. The best performance comes from Ben Mendelsohn as a scroll name tailless who like any good shape. Shifter turns out to have a few surprises up his sleeve Mendelsohn starred in a terrific twenty fifteen film called Mississippi grind who's directors and abode in Ryan Fleck have made quite a leap here from their small scaled indie work to the marvel blockbuster assembly line while the action scenes are mostly generic blur. You can feel the filmmakers character-driven sensibility at work in the choir. Hitter moments of Brielle arsons performance. She infuses those beats with subtle luminosity very different from the flames. She wields in her fists throughout the movie, Carol finds herself on the receiving end, various, sexist insults. Her cream enter played by Jude law tells her she needs to constrain her emotions in order to maximize potential which is because Carol never really seems endanger of losing control. You could say the same for Larson herself a fearless advocate for greater diversity in Hollywood. Which may explain why so many online trolls attacked her movie sight unseen, Carol is brave virtuous and entirely worthy of our admiration, and in the end, she will prove all her male naysayers wrong and reveal herself as one of the most powerful forces to be reckoned with in the marvel universe. What she isn't in the end is a particularly distinctive personality, neither frankly was Black Panther. But that hardly Matt. Heard the kingdom of Kanda was the real star of that show. Captain marvel is being sold as a similar representational milestone, the movie that will do for female audiences what Black Panther did for black audiences, but it's nowhere near as rich or singular achievement as film making. It feel serviceable a best something to tide on is over before the apocalyptic showdown of vendors and game due to be released next month as a closing title card. Informs us, captain marvel will return in that movie, she'll have more competition for attention. But with any luck. She'll also have a lot more to do. Justin Chang is a film critic for the LA times on Monday shell Barbara Brown Taylor and ordained a Piscopo priest who became a professor river. Listen talks with us about how exposure to the world religions affected or students and the impacted had on her own faith. Most of the students hadn't had much exposure. To other religions her new memoir. Has called holy envy. Finding God in the faith of others. Hope you can join us. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham with additional engineering support from joyously Ramin and Julian hurts Ville, our associate producer for digital media is Molly seavy nesper. Roberta shorrock directs the show for Terry. Gross. I'm David in cooled.

Coming up next