The magnificent Al Pacino and the great John Cazale in a scene from The Godfather Part II.

The magnificent Al Pacino and the great John Cazale in a scene from The Godfather Part II.

“I know it was you Fredo you broke my heart, you broke my heart” says the character of Michael Corleone played by the brilliant Al Pacino to his younger brother Fredo played by the great John Cazale in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 all time classic Godfather Part-II. This also happens to be the sequel to the Francis Ford Coppola directed 1972 classic The Godfather.

With the first part of the series being based on the book Godfather by Mario Puzo this movie basically takes the series forward from the point in which Michael Corleone officially takes over as the new Godfather. The rather interesting aspect of this movie is the plot and especially of note is the screenplay which goes back and forth telling the story of Michael Corleone on one hand while also telling the growth and rise of the young Don Vito Corleone. So the plot of this movie basically begins with Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) celebrating his son Anthony’s first communion. It is during this party that Johnny Ola comes on behalf of Florida gangster Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) to support Michael Corelone and his business. It is also during this party that Frank Pentangeli (Michael V Gazzo) a high ranking member of the Corleone  family arrives and express his displeasure about Michael refusing to help him from defending against the Rosato brother’s due to his own self interest. Unfortunately for Michael there is more that meets the eye and on that very same day he and his family are attacked upon by a unknown enemy. Simultaneously the screenplay shifts to how the young Vito Corelone escapes his town Corleone in Sicilly with his help of his relatives settles in New York in an island called Ellis Islland. It is after this attack on Michael and his family that proves to be the turning point and he goes all out to find and eliminate his enemies who were involved in the attempt to assassinate him leaving the responsibility of his family in the hands of his step brother and adviser Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). It is also during this time that Michael realizes that someone within the family has to be involved for an attack of this nature to happen.

While simultaneously on the other hand the story of Vito Corleone continues with the Don now an adult married and with his first child Sonny. It is during this time that while working for a grocery store he comes across Don Fanucci a gangster of the neighborhood. Eventually as expected Fanucci begins to try extort money from Vito and his friends Clemenza and Tessio as a result of them making good money they earned through stealing. It is then that Vito decides to end their misery once for all by killing Fanucci by waiting for him at his apartment and finally killing him by catching him unawares. It is from this point onwards that Vito Corleone gains respect and reputation as the new Don. From this sudden success Vito Corleone and his friends decide to get into the Olive oil business and from then on there is no looking back. The rest of the movie deals with whether Michael finally manages to find the traitor in his family as well as his enemies and eventually manages to eliminate them or not while, on the other hand whether Vito Corleone manages to gain his vengeance by killing a Don in Sicily that was responsible for the killing his family.

The foundation for this all time classic can be basically found in the story and the screenplay written brilliantly by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo himself. What makes the story and screenplay so good and engaging is the fact that there are two individual stories running parallel to each other and yet it is has been so well written by the writers that no point does the story drag thus making for engaging viewing. The editing by Barry Malkin, Richard Marks and Peter Zinner is crisp and even though the movie is three hours in length the pace of the movie never drops which is a real credit to the editors. The background music given by Nino Rotta and Carmine Coppola adds to the flavor of the movie and helps blends in with the Italian culture beautifully. Adding to the brilliant music is great cinematography by Gordon Willis which captures the world of Corleone family so true to life that it gives you a sense of reality. As for the direction Francis Ford Coppola yet again comes out on triumph and puts together a great combination of brilliant performances by the cast and great technical wizardry a feat only few directors can achieve and Coppola is certainly belongs to the rare species of directors.

As for the performances by the cast which one must admit is brilliant right from Robert De Niro to Diane Keaton. To begin with Robert Duvall a Tom Hagen is great and plays the role of the step brother and lawyer to Michael Corleone with understatement and great dignity that the role requires. As the wife caught between her love for her husband and her hatred towards the family business Diane Keaton gets the balance just perfect as Kay Adams. As the weak elder brother Fredo the great John Cazale is brilliant and in each and every scene with Pacino in the movie he brings Pacino to life and the chemistry between the two actors is to be actually seen to be believed. As the ambitious Florida gangster Hyman Rothman the legendary Lee Strasberg in a rare movie role is great in bringing a sense of ambition and a shrewdness that the role quite appropriately required. The great Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone is pure dynamite in role of a lifetime and thoroughly deserved the Oscar for best supporting actor in 1974. What makes his performance so special is simply the fact he brings life to the character without ever aping the great Marlon Brando from the first part although he still retains the essential mannerisms of the character which includes the voice. Last but not the least is the master class performance as Michael Corleone by the magnificent Al Pacino. So be it in the confrontation scene with his wife or his brother Fredo, Al perfectly brings to life a character that has transformed from being an inherent family man to ruthless cold blooded murderer. Also of note is the performance of Michael V Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli and was quite deservingly nominated in the 1974 Oscars in the best supporting actor category.

Overall the movie The Godfather Part-II is a certain masterpiece made by a genius by the name of Francis Ford Coppola and is a must watch for cinema lovers all around the world. Above all the performance of Pacino in this movie as  in the words of Newsweek magazine rightly is “Arguably cinema’s greatest portrayal of the hardening of the heart”.

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“I know it was you Fredo you broke my heart, you broke my heart” says the character of Michael Corleone played by the brilliant Al Pacino to his younger brother Fredo played by the great John Cazale in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 all time classic Godfather Part-II. This also...