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I never knew that Al Pacino told Sidney Lumet, before the filming of "Dog Day Afternoon" began, that he was too exhausted and depressed to take the role - he had just finished filming "The Godfather Part II." Lumet accepted his decision, and offered the part to Dustin Hoffman, whom Pacino considered to be "his rival" - and that was enough for Pacino to secrete enough adrenaline to do the part after all. Funny - while I think of Pacino and Hoffman as "contemporaries," I've never once thought of them as "rivals." I wonder if Lumet knew what he was doing, psychologically, when he made this move. Who knew? When Sonny was being interviewed by the television statement, and he dropped the F-bomb, they (apparently on a several-second delay), cut to the Looney Tunes theme song - now, *that* was funny. I had no idea that I hadn't seen this film before, but I hadn't. It's a fascinating movie - I thought after fifteen minutes it would be a real stinker (completely failed bank robbery - yawn), but then it started to get interesting, and Sonny started to acquire a Rambo-type of popularity with the general population, acquiring a folk-hero-like following, and there was still almost ninety minutes remaining. You know what? This movie is appropriate for these times (just as I'm sure other people have said about other times). People are so damned miserable that they view Sonny as a hero for their own crummy lives.
I watched "The Godfather" from start to finish for only the second time in my life a few days ago, and my overall impression might not curry favor with movie fans: While it must be watched with full knowledge that it was 1972, and the films that came before it were nothing at all like it, my takeaway was that "this film is certainly not underrated." I'll raise the ante a bit by saying that Marlon Brando's performance might be one of the most *overrated* performances I've ever seen. Mind you, "overrated" doesn't mean "bad"; it just means overrated - Brando was deified for this performance, and I don't see all that much in it that merits deification. He was *good*, he was even *very good*, but I can't see this performance and call it "great." I found it very difficult to keep track of peoples' names, in particular the suspected crime bosses who were betraying the Corleone family, and Marlon Brando - cotton stuffed in his cheeks - was almost unintelligible at times. That said, I've been watching a lot of films in the past couple of years from the late 60s and early 70s, and the viewer *must* watch the film in that context. Just six years before, we were enduring such tripe as "Alfie," "Fantastic Voyage," and "One Million Years BC," among some of the better films from 1966. Even among the best of those films, "The Godfather" must be considered groundbreaking. I remember very well when my parents and my aunt went to see it, and it was a *huge* deal to them to be going out to watch this movie. "Is It Just Me, Or Is 'The Godfather' Overrated?" by Joe Rivers on sabotagetimes.com "Is The Godfather Overrated?" on answers.yahoo.com "Is The Godfather (Movie) Overrated?" on quora.com "'50 Most Overrated Movies" on imdb.com Obviously, I trolled the internet looking for the terms "Godfather" and "overrated," and there are plenty more links to be found (look for yourself), but you can also find just about anything you want to on the internet - it has a 99% "Tomatometer" rating on rottentomatoes.com (95% by Top Critics), so I'm clearly in the minority here. That said, I would also rate the movie both "Excellent" *and* "Overrated," so I don't see a conflict here.
Serpico, made in 1973 is one of my favorite movies of all time. Intensity, morals, costume changes, Pacino's range of emotions, NYC, cops, danger, motorcycles, dogs, funky apartments, you name it. A trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtTRYnsDH8Q