I don’t think Roth expected the revolution to happen–he’s confident that Batista’s got everything under control, and that he (Roth) can continue doing business as usual. He’s been visiting Cuba for years, while this is Michael’s first trip there, isn’t it? So he still thinks of Michael as a bit of an upstart, and somebody he can take advantage of (but also someone he doesn’t trust, and is willing to order a hit on him to be on the safe side).
Pentangeli’s one of my all-time favorite characters. Funny how he was a last-minute addition–originally, Clemenza was going to perform that character’s role (that is, an old family friend who thinks Michael’s betrayed him, and agrees to testify against him, etc.), but when they were casting GFII, Richard Castellano held out for more money than they were willing to give him. So they decided to write his character out (in the movie, Clemenza’s recently died and Pentangeli’s running his territory now). Although I loved Richard Castellano’s Clemenza, Michael Gazzo was terrific as Pentangeli. I especially like the scene between him and Tom Hagen towards the end, when Tom compares the Corleone family to the Roman Empire (thus leading to a discussion of honor and what a good Roman should do if he’s violated that honor).
Then again, maybe not. I had read in a Godfather book that Rothstein was the inspiration for Hyman Roth, but the link I just posted doesn’t sound much like Roth, and Rothstein apparently died in 1928. I suspect the actual inspiration for Roth would be Meyer Lansky. That also fits the Siegel reference better.
Actually, a closer match is Meyer Lansky, especially when you consider that both the real-life figure and his fictional counterpart lived frugally depsite the many millions they made with their criminal activities. Although, the Hyman Roth/Arnold Rothstein connection is mentioned in a deleted scene that was included as a part of “The Godfather Saga” for broadcast TV. In it, Vito (Robert De Niro) meets and hires a young hood who explains he calls himself Hyman Roth in honor of his hero and role-model: Arnold Rothstein.
Plus, it would be a little odd for Hyman Roth to speak in such glowing terms of Arnold Rothstein (and his fixing of the World Series) if his character were the fictionalized Rothstein.
I am embarrassed to admit how many times I had to watch GF II before I became fairly confident that I understood the plot. Oddly enough, that made me like it more, even though I don’t think that is at all a good quality in a movie, particularly one that was made before the advent of VHS and DVD made multiple viewings easily accomplished.
To this day, I am unsure of one thing – when Michael went to visit Hyman Roth in Miami, and said that Frankie Pentangeli was the one who had turned against him, and **also ** visited Frankie Pentangeli and told him that *Hyman Roth * was the one who had put the hit on him, was he lying to them BOTH (in hopes of getting a hint of which one was actually guilty), or did he actually suspect one of them more than the other?
But if I were to show the Godfather films to someone who had never seen them before is it better to show them as they came out in the theaters or to get one of the DVD versions where the story is sequential?
I would go with them as they were originally released. I found The Godfather Saga, where the movies are re-edited into chronological order, truly tedious. You miss the whole point of the GF II that way, since you lose the contrast between Vito’s absolute love of his family as the reason for his growing power and Michael’s growing power as the reason for losing his family. (Could you ever see Don Vito killing Fredo, no matter WHAT he did?)
As far as the Godfather III goes, I prefer to pretend that it never happened. What a piece of utter crap. Connie and the cannolis made me chuckle. The really big “emotional” moments in the movie made me laugh out loud – especially the last couple of seconds, which remined me of the old “Laugh In” routine where the guy rode out on a tricycle and fell over. (I would be more specific, but someone may actually be planning on wathcing that piece if crap, and I don’t know how to make a “spoiler box.”)
I truly enjoyed both movies and they are desevedly classified as American classics. That said, my one criticism of these movies are that they glamorized the life of the mobster. All this nonsense about “honour” and “family”. Tell that to the legitimate business men they were rolling over or the union’s they stole from. Great drama and story but an unrealistic portrayal of real gangsters. Look to Goodfella’s for a better rendition of the reality behind the “family”.
I had that problem too. All these people whom you know would be just a bunch of disgusting slimeballs in real life that you’d never want to know for even a minute, protrayed as full of “honor.” I know what the Godfather Saga is full of, and it ain’t honor.
GF3 had its moments, but I thought it suffered as much from the absence of Duvall (who says he wasn’t as irritated by the size of the paycheck he was offered as he was by the fact that Pacino’s was about 3 times as much) and other key players from the first two movie (admittedly most of them were dead either in the series or in real life) as from the presence of Sofia Coppola (who went on to create a fantastic substitute for Sominex called Lost in Translation). I liked the fact that Michael is now gray and wrinkled (especially the jarring juxtaposition when he flashes back to his first marriage) and his real-life 20 year chemistry with Diane Keaton was great (they broke up IRL for the final time on the set of that movie). I even liked the Vatican banking scandal, but I thought the debut of Corleone Jr. in Sicily was ridiculous (a 30 year old American suddenly decides he wants to sing opera [or be… a lumberjack!] and goes instantly to sing the lead in a Palermo opera house… it could happen) and the Don “odd for somebody so important nobody ever mentioned him before now” Altobello and his Lucrezia Borgia demise was way over the top.
Supposedly, GF4 (forever proposed but never in pre-prod) will focus on the Corleone family’s total decline under Vincent into street drugs and petty hoodlum crime. There’s also always talk about an in-betweenquel set in the 1930s when Vito was shot in the throat but emerged as the number one Mafioso.
I think GFI predicted pretty well the decline of the Mafia…as soon as drugs came on the scene, the Mafia pretty much went into decline. REally, think about it…most of the activities that the Mafia controlled have now been pre-empted by the state:
-gambling: most states have lotteries and many have casinos, so who needs the “numbers” racket?
-loan sharking: credit is now available to most people
-sex is readily avialble, no centralized control anymore
I’d say that the current day Mafia is more realistically portrayed by films like “DONNY BRASCO”. Or a latter-day “godfather” like the late Raymond Patriarca (Heat of the New England mob), sitting in his run-down vending machine warehouse in Providence RI, pondering how to run his business deal with his mentally-retarded son.
I’d say a modern-day Mafia chief would be somebody like Ken Lay (ex President of ENRON).
The Godfather is the Myth of the Mafia, while Goodfella’s is the reality. Though one of the things the Godfather did was buck the trend of showing the mafia as one-dimensional bad guys and showing them as human beings.
And since it’s from the mob’s point of view, of course they’re going to think of themselves as being honorable and such. Few,if any, people think of themselves as being scum of the earth.