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DonRocks

"The Godfather" (1972), Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Produced by Alfred S. Ruddy - Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan

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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.

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I can see calling Brando's performance overrated but not the film as a whole. In my mind the first two Godfather films are arguably the high point of American cinema to date.

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I can see calling Brando's performance overrated but not the film as a whole. In my mind the first two Godfather films are arguably the high point of American cinema to date.

As to the films I agree with farmer john;  Simply stunning films.  Certainly up there among the best ever.  As to Brando's role:  He was the patriarch; loving, concerned for his family, and the conniving head of that mafia family business;  but he was not a hothead as so many of the mafia bosses in that film are shown.  I thought it was a great role, portraying that "old world" affection for his family, the old world customs, etc.

By the way, using sources such as "answers.yahoo or quora are sort  of like relying on yelp for the quality or authority of the responses, except probably worse.  The scope of these sites is often childish.

As to the Godfather story, film, and additionally the Soprano's:  Here is a story about a real life mafia don whose life was probably the inspiration for elements in both epic tales:  Richie the Boot Boiardo:  A mafia Don from Jersey.  A book was written about him and here is the Facebook page for that story. 

The comments on the Facebook page and some commentary related to the book are interesting.  Extended family and friends of the family share their memories of visiting the castle/mansion, the godfathers family, etc.  The comments are mostly happily nostalgic and warm.

In fact here is a video wherein the author of the book on Richie the Boot, and one of Richie's grandson's discuss elements of his real life and compare and contrast it with the movie, and the Soprano's.  About  2/3 of the way in they start discussing how Richie and his son "bought the local politicians".   Boy is that not a feature of the Godfather book and film.

It was good to be in the good graces of the Godfather and/or family.  On the other hand it was often fatal to be on his bad side.

Richie the Boot owned a mansion in Northern Jersey, and its possible the scenes with Brando tending to his garden were taken right out of Richie's latter years, where he spent much time gardening.  Some of the stories connected to the Soprano's supposedly come right out of the Boots experiences and his "domain".

So I happen to know a little about the story of Richie the Boot.  My family lived literally around the corner from his son, a capo in Richie's mafia family.  The Castle/mansion in Northern Jersey was pretty near our house.  As kids my friends and I would trek a few miles in woods to gaze upon it from a safe distance.  We all wanted to see it.  None of us would ever violate it.

Here is a story about Richie the Boot.  When I was about Junior High age, my brother was a High School senior and one of his friends sold Christmas trees in the town.  This guy was probably the biggest kid/star jock/star football player in the town.  Very big, fast, probably way bigger and stronger than anyone else in that class, and regional star of some note.

He was going door to door selling Christmas trees and happened to ring the bell at the Boiardo house, owned by Richie's son.   I'm sure he had no idea whose house it was.

Richie appeared; grandfather aged, possibly semi retired or retired from the family business.  He was brandishing a firearm, either a pistol or rifle and threatened that good willed seller of Christmas trees.

Needless to say the high school football star was scared out of his wits and ran like the dickens.

Nobody messes with the Godfather.

I thought Brando did a great job.

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By the way, using sources such as "answers.yahoo or quora are sort  of like relying on yelp for the quality or authority of the responses, except probably worse.  The scope of these sites is often childish.

Perhaps. As I said, there were many Google hits for this search, and I just scraped off the first few I found, inviting people to look for themselves. They certainly aren't any more bereft of substance than this:

Simply stunning films.  Certainly up there among the best ever. 

I did enjoy your story though.

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There are lots of things that I think are very good and also over-rated. I love The Godfather, but I agree it's over-rated by anyone who thinks it's the greatest film of all time, and I gather such people exist. I tend to think that any film longer than two hours is ipso facto an artistic failure, and I don't make an exception for this one. But the script is remarkably smart, the photography is stunning, the score is wonderful, and I don't think Brando's performance is over-rated at all; I think Brando gives one of the great film performances. I could watch his scenes a hundred times and not tire of them. (I'd also recommend the movie The Freshman, in which Brando parodies his Godfather performance in a surprisingly endearing, unembarrassing way.)

I always thought that Citizen Kane was the single most over-rated film until a lot of people started saying that Vertigo, not Kane, is the greatest film of all time, so now I think Vertigo is the most over-rated film. I actually like Citizen Kane, although I find much to not like about it. I find only a few things to like about Vertigo, which goes on for at least 30 minutes too long, after giving away the mystery at the center of the story about half-way through. Feh. (And it's got Jimmy Stewart in it, which is two strikes to start with.) Hitchcock, who certainly made some wonderful movies, is way over-rated.

My candidate for most under-rated film (in English, anyway): Quadrophenia.

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Don:

Answers/Yahoo and Quora are sort of known juvenileish sites.  They don't draw authorities.  They don't carry authoritative info (generally).  They just aren't informational, fact based sites with depth.  Not great sources for most anything.---but entertaining for goofy questions.

I suppose one can put down as non authoritative anyone's opinion without substance.  So be it.

Meanwhile as referenced above I had some level of awareness of the mafia while growing up.  I did run into some goons, and was aware through several different ways of the upper echelons.  But mostly I kept my distance as much as possible.  The reference I made above to the local New Jersey don who quite possibly served as a model for some of the scenes in the Godfather and later the Soprano's was very illuminating.

If you run through some of the web references to this person, what is astounding are the warm memories and actual love for this guy.  He treated some people wonderfully.  In fact he was seen as a Robin Hood type character among some.

Now Brando played a multi faceted character;  A vicious law breaking Mafia Don, who had people executed, had them sleep with the "fishes" and who placed a cut off dead horses head in someone's bed.  Don't mess with that guy.

On the other hand, he was "loved" by some in the community, generous to some, was a complete family man to extended family, took care of his friends, was a business boss who was deliberative, reserved, and clever if not deeply experienced and brilliant.

Brando walked through all those elements.  It was a nuanced character and he covered all the nuances.  Brando had amazing emotive abilities with his face.  He had it in earlier epic roles and he portrayed it in the Godfather.  I recall his pain when he learned that Sonny was shot.   He was excellent with pain and angst.  He oozed through several different characters over his career and again in the Godfather.

I thought he did it all in the Godfather.

But my favorite character in that two part epic was De Niro as the young godfather.  And then how those two different presentations merged over time.   Just perfect.   Personally I almost never rewatch movies.  Those are the ones I keep watching over the years.

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Don:

Answers/Yahoo and Quora are sort of known juvenileish sites.  They don't draw authorities.  They don't carry authoritative info (generally).  They just aren't informational, fact based sites with depth.  Not great sources for most anything.---but entertaining for goofy questions.

Dave, I'm not going to dwell on this, but I'm well-aware that websites such as Answers/Yahoo are puerile in general. However, I thought I was very clear that I was simply scraping off the first few hits I found on Google (literally going down the hits page, 1, 2, 3 ...), and I came right out and stated that there were more of the same - ordinary viewers who had the same impression I did - and that I was just citing some quick examples while inviting people to look for themselves. The issue wasn't that you questioned the websites' authority (it was perfectly fine to question their authority), but your response came across as somewhat condescending - you know perfectly well that I'm capable of discerning and ferreting out websites that contain expertise; perhaps it was the anonymous pixels of the internet that made your post seem that you were speaking down to me. I can accept that, and consider this very small dust-up closed - you followed your post up with a meaningful level of discourse which is all I was seeking in the first place, so kudos to you.

Cheers,

Rocks

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I liked the nervous energy of John Cazale's performance as Fredo. Interesting actor-- he did five films while alive plus archival footage in Godfather III. All six films were nominated for Best Picture. His work included Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter. Also, rather than sleeping with the fishes, he slept with Meryl freakin' Streep. Mmmmm...

meryl-streep-genclik3.jpg

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