Monday, March 4, 2013

The Godfather: Part 1-Book/Movie Review

Rating: 4

Hi everyone!  Our discussion begins today, so please comment at any time!

I hate to admit, but I've only begun to begin book 2 in the novel.  Life's been a little crazy so I decided I  would do a part 1 and part 2 review of the book/film.

The Corleone boys

I think Mario Puzo is a great writer and story teller.  He gives enough details without overwhelming his audience.  He begins his story by introducing us to three different Italian families who are in need of help from "The Godfather".  Usually when you introduce characters at the beginning of a book, they are going to be main characters.  However, these individuals are not and yet that doesn't take away from the story.  their stories set up how we meet the Corleone family and give us insight into the character of Don Corleone.  

Puzo also gives us some great characters and is able to quickly establish the kind of men they are efficiently.  He doesn't go on for pages describing someone.  You learn about them through their actions, dialogue, and thoughts.  I'll save my questions and thoughts for the comment section.  

Film:  I really enjoyed the film and only watched to where I finished in the book.   I like that the mob life isn't glamorized and how one has to ALWAYS watch their back.  That's a 24/7 job.  Being in the mafia seems too stressful.  

It was a little strange at first seeing such a young Al Pacino and James Caan.  James you have so much hair! HAHA!!  I thought everyone in the films was very well cast.  Of course when I think of Marlon Brando, I think this:

Did you know that Brando wanted to make Don Corleone look like a bulldog, so he had a mouthpiece made to achieve the effect of the large jawls.  I'm guessing he thought bulldogs looked touch and wanted The Don to come across as a strong, powerful man just by looking at him.  The make up used was very well done as he was only 48 when the film was made.  He definitely picked up the Godfather's quiet tone yet isn't afraid to show his fierce side when it is appropriate.

Pacino did a terrific job transitioning from the son who didn't want to be a part of the family business to taking over the role of his father.  I particularly liked the moment just before he killed Sollozo and McClusky.  Just because he had killed men in combat didn't mean he wasn't in some fashion nervous to just take out these two men.  The look on his face showed that nervousness.  It only lasted a few seconds, but it was great.  In the book, Michael stays calm the entire time, but I did like Pacino's instinct.
One thing that did bother me was the Italian was not translated and subtitled.  If I hadn't read the book, I wouldn't know what they were talking about.  And seriously that woman didn't scream???  

Caan is a great womanizing Sonny.  Sonny is an aggressive man who wants to protect his family, but he doesn't think as clearly as his father or brother.  I wish we were able to see more of him in the film as he is in the book.  

Overall, the film is great and I see why it is a classic.  However, as with most really well written books, it doesn't capture all the intimate details, dialogue, or thoughts.  

Hey Tom (Robert Duvall)!  Where was your scene where you get kidnapped and your wife is freaking out when you return?  Did I miss that?  Eh,'s been a week since I started the film.  I feel like his character got ripped off--not that he wasn't well written--but you don't get his backstory or why he is important to the family. That's a major bummer because Tom is a wonderful character.  

And then there is Kay (Diane Keaton).  Poor sweet Kay who loves Michael so much and doesn't hear from him for three years after he kills Solozzo!  I gotta say, it was hard not to watch her and see her as the book Kay because I've only seen films with her as an older, ballsy gal.  She is lovely though.  I look forward to seeing her more in the film and the book.  

That's it for now, so please comment!  


  1. To get started:

    1. The Godfather was published during a tumultuous era that included the Vietnam War and the struggle for civil and women’s rights. What aspects of the novel might have made it particularly appealing to readers at the time? What about its popularity today?

    2. Puzo writes that “Luca Brasi did not fear the police, he did not fear society, he did not fear God, he did not fear hell, he did not fear or love his fellow man but he had elected, he had chosen to fear and love Don Corleone." Why would someone—even someone unafraid of anything else--choose to fear and love the don? Discuss the characters’ attitudes toward various types of authority in the book.

    1. Ah! The Godfather? I read the book a long, long, long, long, long time ago. Its nice to re-read it because its like the first time. I'm only on Chapter 3. I will try to get back to it soon so I can participate and answer your questions. Great questions btw.

    2. Openbook,

      That's ok! I'm still in book 2 so no worries. I figure this one will be a long drawn out discussion. hahaha!!! I did finish the film, so once I get to where the film and book both end (to some extent), I will post more as well.

    3. Oh Great! I don't feel so bad. LOL! I will return to reading the book next week. But I will watch the film this week to refresh my memory.

    4. To answer question #1, I don't know about it's popularity today. I know cinefiles who claim it to be a classic and one of the top films, but in my own circle, I don't know many people who have seen it, and if they have it's been forever since they watched it. I will say, I think the book is fantastic. Even better than the film and Puzo helped write the script! I don't even think the younger generations even really know about TG.

      #2. Luca Brasi, I truly believe respected Don Corleone because the Don was a man of his word and honor. He didn't truly seek to hurt anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, he kept his cool in front of his enemies, he was logical and strategized well. That type of control can be very intimidating and command a lot of respect. Oh, he also made sure his friends were well taken care of as long as they would be willing to help him out with a favor in the future. You risked disappointing the Don.

  2. I am about 3/4 of the way through and am LOVING IT! Some of those murder/torture scenes are brutal and don't even come close to what is shown in the film (for that time). I wonder just how graphic the violence would be portrayed now if they were to do TG. (Don't get any ideas HW because the original shouldn't be touched!)

  3. OB and Sony:

    Who is one of your favorite characters and why?

    1. I'm so on the late train. However to answer your Q. My favorite character is Vito. It would have been Michael. However, I don't like how he treated Kay.

      Q: Why do u think Michael was attracted and married Kay?

  4. Before Mario Puzi died in 1999. He stated he wanted to do a Godfather 4. What do u think about the Godfather 4 film that's scheduled to come out this Summer? With Hayden Christensen in the lead? Also Kristen Stewart was brought on to keep the boys interested. Here is the article.

    1. Just when u think the Godfather films are done they pull us back in. Hahahaha! I'm sorry I couldn't help it. No seriously, let it die. Enough already!