For some odd reason I’ve watched The Godfather twice this year (nearly 3 times): once from my personal DVD; once by accident on one of the UHF stations but had to cut it short; and finally to finish where I left off when the UHF station rebroadcast it. I was just a kid when I saw it the first time with my family. Afterall, it’s a family story right? Or an offer I couldn’t refuse.
The brilliant and maybe disturbing thing about “The Godfather” (based on the book by Mario Puzo) is how with all their shady business, the Corleones resemble a typical patriarchal family with big American dreams. You recognize these characters. That was probably Francis Ford Coppola’s goal. And perhaps its more disturbing characteristic is how Michael embodies the best and worst of what is sadly the reality of all power struggles business and otherwise. You want to be and run away from him. It is probably Michael’s internal struggle as well.
It’s my understanding several of my cousins made decisions never to use drugs based on this one movie moment. As the families gather for a business meeting to discuss the inevitable future — narcotics, the strategy on where to put the dirty new business is laid out. One family don gets up and says “…In my city we would keep the traffic with the dark people, the coloreds. They’re animals anyway.” For that “The Godfather” is valuable. Unfortunately, “Scareface” would be the icon of the next generation.
“The Godfather” story gets even better behind-the-scenes. Check out this March 2009 Vanity Fair story, “The Godfather Wars,” by Marc Seal.
Or this gem from “The Lives They Lived” interview with Sammy “The Bull” Gravano of the Gambino crime family by Jeffrey Golberg for the New York Times (January 2, 2000).
“The Godfather has respect in it, but that doesn’t exist anymore.”