News Column

This sequel worthy to stand by original

September 14, 2013


Sept. 14--Sequels tend to be disappointing, but "The Godfather: Part II," the 1974 follow up to 1972's blockbuster, is considered by some to be the best "Godfather" movie of them all, and Friends of the Fox brings it back to the screen on Sunday as part of its Classic Cinema Series at the Bob Hope Theatre.

The movie screens at 2 p.m. Doors open at 1 p.m. and an organ concert begins at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $8, available at the door.

The matinee showing is the latest development in the Classic Cinema Series, shifting from Friday night screenings.

"We're giving it a shot," said Tom Conner, member of the selection committee. "With the exception of October, when we show 'An American Werewolf in London' on a Friday night, we're going to keep it on Sundays for a while and see how it does. I think our audience is more comfortable coming in the daytime."

The Friends' audience tends to be older, but "The Godfather: Part II" is a film with broad appeal, a powerful continuation of the ground-breaking classic, "The Godfather," which American Film Institute ranked the third best film of all time, behind "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca." "The Godfather: Part II" ranked 32nd on the list, the only sequel included in the Top 100 films of all time. Both "The Godfather" and "The Godfather: Part II" won Academy Awards for best picture.

Al Pacino reprises his role as Michael Corleone, the successor to Marlon Brando's Godfather, and Robert De Niro plays the Brando character, Vito Corleone, as a young man.

Intertwining the two stories, director Francis Ford Coppola illustrates the dramatically different effects power has on Vito Corleone and his son, Michael.

Vito Corleone is romanticized in "The Godfather" as a loving father who danced with his daughter at her wedding and played in the garden with his grandson. He's revered and respected. That narrative continues in "The Godfather: Part II." Young Vito is a sympathetic figure, forced to flee to America at age 9 when the Mafia boss in his Sicilian village murders his family. As a young man, Vito is lured into crime by a young Peter Clemenza, and rises to power because of his concern for his young family and his neighbors. When he eliminates the "black hand" who terrorizes the residents of Little Italy, Vito becomes the Don and proves to be a benevolent and beloved leader in the community.

While Vito can be a ruthless killer, he is driven by his love for and desire to protect his family.

His favorite son, Michael, his chosen successor, is also a ruthless killer, but he's vengeful and merciless, and his rise to the top comes at the expense of his family.

Coppola's storytelling device in "The Godfather: Part II," of switching back and forth between Vito's life in the early 1900s and Michael's life in the late 1950s, didn't play well for critic Roger Ebert, who described it as "a structural weakness from which the film never recovers." A "Godfather" fan called it "just too hard."

Nearly 40 years later, though, "The Godfather: Part II" is viewed by critics as the best sequel ever, and by some as a better film than the original. Nearly all base their admiration on the performances of De Niro, who, like Brando, won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Vito Corleone, and Pacino, whose college boy/hero Marine of the first film is fully transformed into the cold, ruthless man who has driven off everyone who ever loved him.

The supporting cast includes Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire and John Cazale reprising roles from the first Godfather, as well as Lee Strasburg as Hyman Roth, Michael Gazzo as Frankie Pentageli and G.D. Spradlin as Senator Geary.

Contact reporter Lori Gilbert at (209) 546-8284 or


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