The Godfather (1972)
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Thank you for joining me this week. As we discuss francis ford coppola the godfather in this episode we'll we'll discuss the godfathers internal rhythmic structure of calm and violence in our feature presentation will hear some gory details in our buzzed from the back lot segment mint but first. Let's get into this. Week's opening credits our film. This week is the godfather which was directed by francis ford coppola and it was released in nineteen seventy two the godfather stars marlon orland brando al pacino james caan diane keaton robert duvall and john cazalet in one thousand nine forty five at his daughter connie's wedding don in-vitro corleone played by marlon brando. Here's requests in his role. As head of a new york crime family his youngest son michael who is as a marine during world war two introduces his girlfriend kay adams played by diane keaton to his family at the reception shortly before christmas drug baron virgil the turk solazzo backed by the tata crime family asks veto for investment in his narcotics business and protection protection through his political connections wary of involvement in a dangerous new trade that risks alienating political insiders veto declines. It's later solazzo has veto gunned down in the street. Then kidnaps tom hagen the family consul yeti played by robert duvall with corleone. His firstborn son sunny in command play by james caan solazzo pressures hagen to persuade sunny to accept salat so's deal then releases him veto survives and at the hospital michael forts another attempt on his father's life. Michael's jaw is broken by new york p._d. Captain captain mark mcklusky who's salato's unofficial bodyguard michael plots to murder solazzo mcklusky feigning a desire to settle the dispute michael meets them in a bronx restaurant where after retrieving planted gun he kills both men despite a clamp down from the authorities the five new york crime families families erupt in open warfare and veto fears for his son's safety michael takes refuge in sicily sunny taxes sister husband on the street for abusing connie and threatens to kill him. If it happens again when it does sonny speeds to their home but his ambushed at a highway toll booth and riddled with submachine gun fire while in sicily michael meets mary's up alania but a car bomb intended for him take her life devastated my son's death and realizing that the toddlers are controlled by the now dominant zini family veto attempts to end the feud. He assures the five families that he will withdraw his opposition to their heroin when business and forego avenging sonny's murder his safety guaranteed michael returns home to enter the family business and mary kay promising her that the business business will be legitimate within five years with his father at the end of his career and his brother too weak michael takes the family rains in nineteen fifty fifty five veto suffers a fatal heart attack at the funeral salvatore testa corleone capo as michael to meet with dunbar zini signaling the betrayal rail that veto had forewarned the meeting is set for the same day as the baptism of connie's baby while michael stands at the altar as the child's godfather corleone assassins murder the other new york dons tesco is executed for his treachery and michael extracts carlos confession to his complicity. Listen in setting up sonny's murder for bart zini a corleone capo. Peter clemenza garrote carl with a wire connie accuses michael of the murder order telling k. that michael ordered all the killings kate is relieved when michael finally denies it but when the capos arrive the address her husband as don corleone and and she watches them pay reverence to michael as the newly installed dawn as they close the door on her the godfather had a budget of six and a half million alien dollars and a box office total of two hundred eighty six million adjusted for inflation so budget of thirty nine million and a staggering box office total of one point seven billion the godfather received ten academy award nominations winning three it was initially nominated for best original dramatic dramatic score but that oscar nomination was revoked saying that the music was too similar to something already written it was also nominated for best sound best film editing editing best costume design best supporting actor for james caan best supporting actor for robert duvall and best supporting actor al pacino and francis. This ford coppola was nominated for best director. The film won the awards for best adapted screenplay best actor for marlon brando which he refused first and best picture. The godfather is currently number two on af one hundred greatest movies up all time now. We're going to the mattresses. It is because it's time for our feature presentation before we get started in case. You missed it at the top of the show next week. We're launching a new patriotic exclusive. Show called classic. Movie must double both feature. The show costs one dollar per month and releases every tuesday to patriae subscribers. The show is the same structure as our normal show but for movies released east from the year two thousand to the present and that i believe are destined to go down in the film books as classics so if you subscribe on patriot you can get four more bonus episodes per month for just one dollar our normal friday show remains unchanged future episodes will include movies like there will be blood the hurt locker and inception. I hope you check it out. Subscribe at patriots dot com slash classic movie musts now the godfather at the heart of the myriad things that the godfather does as a film to make it a classic is a six part structure that provides a rhythm of calm and violence accentuated by visual irony that pulls the viewer and never let them go a cycle goal of violence that speaks to the core of the film's themes the wedding reception episode that opens the film pulls the audience in like few films openings can the opening shot with which the final shot of the film will cohere is dazzling in technical beauty as a sicilian cillian american undertaker asks for vengeance against irish college boys who have assaulted his daughter saying for justice we must go to don corleone coppola dollies back slowly gracefully revealing more and more of screen left the area occupied by the silhouette of the godfather the dalai back rather than zoom which would have involved operating zoom lens not moving the whole camera it keeps all objects in the background in focus and makes the expanding setting into a panoramic fresco from a shot dot with a beginning a middle and an end it moves into a two shot that includes the mystery filled figure of whom we are hearing foreground and background interact. The dalai on its purpose for journey is one of the most graceful camera movements in film history and finds behind the sinister outline of the dimly defined back of don corleone. Even during the dalai brando's voice complaints you thought you would find paradise in america and he chides the undertaker for resisting until now his counsel and help a cut to a reverse angle shot shows at last don corleone his eldest son santino behind him looking bored to reactions in the same frame after the reconciled undertaker kisses the godfathers ring a gesture of fealty that is repeated during the later ascension of the new godfather coppola okla cuts to a long shot of the reception outside in broad daylight a photographer in the foreground preparing the family for the wedding picture picture as if chess pieces assembled on a board all characters are introduced a genealogical chart of the family introduces us to all the key players of the film one of the many examples of coppola ability to use framing and meson sent convey a balance of plot what and thematically importance as johnny fontaine vito corleone godson and famous actor weeps over his failing career and as a huge huge wedding cake shown in high angle arrives don corleone says verbal irony a man who doesn't spend time with his family is not a good would man the photographer having assembled the family last saps family picture and the scene dissolves on a dance. The subsequent fade is itself a signifier of the lapse of time between the wedding reception and the second episode of the film the fate itself the black. The screen is the ending of something perhaps of a dream certainly of a simpler time the first of six episodes in the film l. is a space filled with motion several actions dancing body singing privy council acts of sex and dynamic namic cuts to keep the action flowing it is imitative of the motions of life when coppola does not cut he dali's or tracks gracefully early following persons and objects such as michael entering or the cake being rolled in with the movie goer compelled to enjoy the wedding reception yet privy veto the goings on of which no guests can be fully aware thus coppola gives the movie goer a privileged position at the wedding and prepares him or her for the ironies that follow in the well made plot. The second episode of the film opens with tom the lawyer landing in los angeles the second episode explains how the singer johnny fontaine got their dramatic part promised him in this self contained how how to unit coppola introduces a six hundred thousand dollar racehorse early in the episode shows tom's quarrels with the film producer who has refused to hire hire fontaine and ends in a long take a crane shot that begins outside the house enters the bedroom and ends with the producer stirring in bed head and awakening to discover the race horses bloody head in bed with him. The use of the crane shot for this purpose is sensationalistic. A former detail coppola crane shot is undeniably effective in stimulating an emotional response coppola is far more effective with the lap dissolve as we will see throughout the film but those who argue that the sicilian footage that comes later in the godfather is superfluous need to keep this california's sequence in mind signed. It is a journey to the west to the future as the later journey will be to the east to the european passed through a lap dissolve from the california. Ah -fornia estate to the face don corleone the two images held together on the screen as if to indicate the remote control for the terrorist terrorist action that we have just witnessed the sinister influence of the godfather is presented the second episode like all subsequent episodes has begun gun in calm and has ended in violence and terror this becoming the anticipated dramatic pattern of the film the pattern dominates donates the third episode in which several murders lead to michael's exile a result of the attempted shooting of the godfather the kidnapping and murder of luca brasi clemenza 's betrayal of the informer paulie and the murder of the corrupt police captain at a meeting between families families solazzo proposes and don corleone rejects the addition of drugs to the family enterprises which already include unions gambling and prostitution toossion the meeting concerning drugs has included tom return from a successful california assignment along with sonny fredo and clemenza and in the remaining segments of the third episode were treated to a montage that leads to a shooting and it's avenging as luca brasi journeys to bruneta toggle is nightclub nightclub as michael ince shop at best inco and attend the bells of saint mary's at radio city music hall and as tom enters the car of a rival family. The godfather is shot at a fruit stand freighter who is with him bursts into tears. Luca's hand is impaled with a penknife. Michael reads the headline headline about the shooting in the new york daily mirror and on the soundtrack have yourself a merry. Little christmas reinforces the irony of birth and breath. Tom taken prisoner here solazzo. Tell him. I don't like violence tom. I'm a businessman. The visual irony through shock montage is is a technique coppola uses to great effect both here and of course later in the film while don corleone is in the hospital. A package arrives arrives. It contains a dead fish. A message that means luca brasi sleeps with the fishes we have now entered a world of betrayals and we watch their arrangements with the head of the family in the hospital and a gang war in progress the body of the family lives on eighteen mattresses and each clemenza cooking the godfather which owes more to legends and filmed versions of reality than to reality itself acquires the aura of a romance manse with its king arthur lancelot galahad and sir madrid's as a romance of the mafia it reinforces the myth of fealty in the the masculine life it extols so the question then becomes how to get solazzo enclosed in the family compound much like camelot michael plots revenge coppola dollies in on his determined face in close up in order to point out his resemblance to his father even even before he has acquired his father's power at jack dempsey's restaurant he begins a dangerous journey that follows a false trail along a new jersey bridge into the toilet of a bronx restaurant where he finally murders the dragon. I have treated as a single episode a great deal of footage a a meeting concerning drugs and the consequences of don corleone decision not to sell them sub meetings betrayals murders and the emergence of the youngest son as the the hero the pattern of calm terror calm reinforces the mythology that those who aspire must strive however reckless or criminal criminal their daring do what follows is eight calm fourth episode through lap dissolves and double printing that includes shots of warring family on mattresses mattresses and in the headlines or news reports of don corleone recovery and return home coppola condenses a series of events in the manner popular in in the twenties and thirties when calendar pages fly off or a landscape undergoes a change of seasons indicating the passage of time coppola a uses it to authenticate the history of the forties even using the title of the defunct new york sun while the soundtrack records tinny piano music after the violent series of shock attraction events of the third episode this set peaceful calms the audience and prepares the movie goer the recurrence of the pattern of betrayal and vengeance already presented several times and which will be repeated in a higher key in the fifth episode food which contains sequences devoted to michael in sicily cross cut with santino is adventures in new york warfare betrayal it also brings the action into a rising climax in the third sequence paulie has answered for the shooting of don corleone in the fifth we see sent tino's death coppola also introduces michael in the town of corleone sicily courting polonia well nino rotas sicilian theme is brought to full flower our on the soundtrack meanwhile sunny his mob waiting in the street and a long hallways enjoys his mistress. These sexual themes are cross is cut in such a way as to prepare for violence and murder in each sunny leaves. His mistress visits his pregnant blackened. I'd sister assaults her husband. Carlo dropping a garbage can on his head exterior shots of a sicilian wedding reception follow michael polonia feeding guests seated in a circle around them their first dance of the newlyweds their interior wedding night ending an embrace k. entering the new york headquarters to inquire about michael juxtaposed supposed with connie pregnant receiving a phone call from a woman asking for carlo culminating in a two-shot argument connie breaking dishes growing calm. I'm an sunny receiving a call from connie saying you just wait there. After sonny leaves the compound heatedly his henchmen caught off guard follow him at a the distance coppola brings him to his death in twenty four shots the last of which brings together the dead body the dead tollbooth attendance attendance and the car full of henchman arriving too late a dissolve again brings us to the face of the godfather at screen right in the screen area area occupied by the undertaker in the first shot of the film also parallel in construction to the first shot. Tom hagen the console yeti enters. Here's the frame where the godfather had been in the opening shot. The sequence in sicily that follows brings about the death not of michael but his wife at bologna who learning to drive ignites a bomb intended for her husband. This murder like that of the shooting of the godfather is due to a traitor fabrizio. One of michael sicilian cillian bodyguards it remains an event while preparations are made for the murder of the trader responsible for sonny's murder similarly reinforcing forcing theme throughout the godfather films of spouses not being fully equal to blooded family in the sixth and final episode which covers the years. Here's until one thousand nine hundred eighty five the great concert of family heads meets to establish the piece in a lovely irony coppola rewrites the death of the godfather michael case son three years old and he can read the funny papers is being taught by the retired don corleone to spray tomato tomato plants coppola has the boy working with a flit gun. A detail not included in the novel. This visual detail implies that the terror will we'll continue in spite of the child's being named mancini the soul of italy still as don corleone falls dead the sicilian theme on the soundtrack jack asks for respect and romantic pity for the dead leader the funeral don corleone the closing of the compound and the ascension of the youngest his son as the new godfather leads to a wipe into a black screen that concludes the film montage by shock attraction used earlier during the wedding reading reception during the inter cutting the shooting of don corleone and his sons activities during the cross cutting of son's death with michael's first marriage and his first first wife's death and in a lesser way with the child playing with a flit gun as his grandfather dies now counterpoint baptism and massacre in in church as michael stands godfather to connie's baby he renounces satan well elsewhere various of his gang family move upstairs assemble oh guns while they're victims. In other families perform commonplace acts a ribbon flowing from the baby's clothes corresponds to a hand reaching for a rifle christening oil poured over baby's head to barbershop lotion apply to a face used as voice over and music over the baptism service and box music override shots of clemenza walking up steps received dunbar seaney at a courthouse a las vegas hotel owner being massage and the corleone gang traps arrival leaving a flower shop in a revolving door and kills him a gang member luca nazis replacement impersonating getting a policeman shoots dunbar zini as the oil pours in one shot dead are shown in a second and third and we have michael lighting a candle all in the fourth at length the new family michael in the center stands on the steps of the church as in the first episode the photographer had grouped the family around the old godfather setting all family business before moving his operation to las vegas michael orders the murder of carlo after extracting a confession that answers for santino death at the toll booth clemenza lurks in the back seat and the unsuspecting car is strangled the windshield broken by carlos is foot corresponds to connie's shattered face as she accuses michael of engineering the murder which of course michael denies when his wife kay doubts he he lies to her directly in the room that was seen through blinds in the opening shot of the film now in daylight. He answers her question. Is it true with no still doubtful. K. leaves the room and as she turns from another room to look back sees clemenza bow to kiss michael's ring and as she acquires knowledge of this futile gesture michael orders the door closed as it closes coppola shifts to case face in the reverse angle reaction shot case his face is wiped into blackness and the film ends the black silhouette of don corleone is back in the opening shot and the final wipe over kay's face ace indicate the continuity of the darkness that secret knowledge brings now. It's time for our buzz from the back lot segment and this week. We've got some gory details. Marlon brando wanted to make don corleone on a look like a bulldog so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition for the actual filming. He wore mouthpiece made by a dentist. The appliances is on display. In the american museum of the moving image in queens new york orson welles lobbied to get the part of don vito corleone even offering to lose a a good deal of weight in order to get the role francis ford coppola. A wells fan had to turn him down because he already had marlon brando in mind for the role and felt that wells wouldn't be right for it. Lenny montana who plays luca brasi was so nervous about working with marlon brando that in the first take of their scene together he flubbed some some lines coppola liked genuine nervousness and used it in the final cut the scenes of luca practicing his speech. We're added later. According to richard castellano who plays clemenza he defended gordon willis during a disagreement that willis was having with francis ford coppola coppola got his revenge on castellano by making him do twenty takes of the shots clemenza walking up four flights of stairs. The smack that veto gives johnny contain was not in the script marlon brando brando improvise the smack and martinez confused reaction with real according to james caan martinez didn't know whether to laugh or cry the scene where sonny beats have have carlo took four days to shoot and featured more than seven hundred extras. The use of the garbage can lid was improvised james caan during rehearsals. Ah false horse's head was used for the bedroom scene for the film shot. A real horse's head was used acquired from a dog food factory. According to john marley marla the scream of the horror was real as he was not informed that a real head was going to be used coppola shot sonny's assassination scene in one take with with different cameras positioned at each shot. This was because there were one hundred and forty nine squibb's taped onto james caan body to simulate the effect of rapid rapid machine gun fire and they couldn't shoot another take mccloskey's death was achieved by building a fake forehead onto sterling hayden's head a gap was cut in the center and filled with fake blood then capped off of the plug of prosthetic flesh when the scene was being filmed the plug was quickly yanked out using a monofilament fishing line which doesn't show up on film. The effect was to make it look like a bloody hole. Suddenly appeared on hayden's head. Mow greens execution acution by a bullet through his i was accomplished by a hidden pellet shooter in the glasses is frame that smashed the lens outward and finally the align. I'm gonna make him an offer. He can't refuse was selected by the a._f._i. On their list of the one hundred top movie quotes it currently ranks wchs as the number two most famous line right behind frankly my dear. I don't give a damn from gone with the wind that concludes our episode on the godfather. I would love to hear what you think of this classic. Classic movie must feel free to tweet at movie must pot or e mail classic movie at g mail dot com. You can listen to all our episodes and learn more about the show on our website website. Classic movie must dot com. You can support the show and get access to our weekly exclusive episodes. Classic movie must double feature by subscribing on patriot on you can also become a producer of the show and get your name read at the end of every episode just like donna hoffman lee eleanor b max on redid. Thank you all for your generous. His patronage check out all our support tears and the rewards over at patriotic dot com slash classic movie musts on the next episode. We're discussing fantastic sequels with the godfather part to remember episodes elise every friday on all podcast services. Thank you so much for listening until the next accepts owed. 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