6/21/14: The Godfather Part II

GFII

Paulie’s the name. I’m an old hippie. Always have been, I suppose. Despite the fabricated reputation that hippies are all about a lack of hygiene, a deficiency in intelligence & fear of education, we’re clean, bright & erudite. We adore art & music, and love to travel. Especially, back in the day, to see Jerry play. “Those were the great old days, you know. And we were everywhere, like the Roman Empire. The Grateful Dead family was like the Roman Empire.” Now you’ll find us at the beach, especially on the East Coast of FL. “I’m a retired business analyst living on a pension. That was the business I chose because I like to vacation in New Smyrna Beach FL, and I wish to live there as a hippie in the twilight of my life.” We’ve been going there for 15 years; thrice a year, every year, for the last 10. I once promised my wife, Cindy, we’d move there when I retired. “Let me think of what I once told her: ‘In five years the Marino family will be completely, legitimately debt free, and we’ll be able to move to New Smyrna.’ That was seven years ago. You know, I’m still trying, darling.” I want to move out of Greater Waterbury where my family has been living since my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Palazzo Adriano, Sicily in 1920. My brother John got out. He lives in the aptly named Oldsmar near Tampa. “There everything is about sports, especially baseball, football & bowling. I don’t like sporting events. John really enjoys watching them on the television in the afternoon.” Hippies prefer to go to the beach & tiki bars for conversation. Nobody really watches sports in New Smyrna. “That’s one of the things I like about that town.”

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In case you haven’t heard of it, New Smyrna Beach is 15 miles southeast of Daytona Beach, the same direction & distance that Palazzo Adriano is from Corleone, where Vito Andolini was born before he immigrated all alone to New York City in 1901 at just 9 years old (Oreste Baldini) as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II begins. This great motion picture won 6 Oscars at the 47th Academy Awards in 1975, including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay (Coppola & Mario Puzo), and Supporting Actor (Robert DeNiro). It was nominated for 5 more (including Al Pacino, Talia Shire & Lee Strasberg). When 9 year old Vito gets to Ellis Island, his hometown of Corleone is mistaken for his surname & legally changed forever. We next see Vito at 25 (DeNiro) in Little Italy standing up to neighborhood extortionist Don Fanucci (Gastone Moschin) and his legend is born. The film juxtaposes Vito in Little Italy & his youngest son Michael Corleone (Pacino), Don of the Corleone business in the late 50’s. Vito is fair & compassionate; Michael is brutal & paranoid! His marriage to Kay (Diane Keaton) and his relationships with his siblings, Fredo (John Cazale) & Connie (Shire), are rocky. Lee Strasberg, who ran the famed Method Acting school, The Actor’s Studio, in Hell’s Kitchen from 1951 until his death on 2/17/82, plays Miami businessman Hyman Roth. Elia Kazan, founded the school on 10/5/47 where his 1st protégé was Marlon Brando. He also directed the original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire which starred Brando from 12/3/47 – 12/17/49; and 2 years later they collaborated on the film version. With The Method, created by Russian stage actor & director Constantin Stanislavski and refined by Strasberg, Kazan & Stella Adler (Brando’s favorite teacher), actors immerse themselves in their characters by relating their personal experiences to the roles even when not rehearsing & acting. So now, “I make you an offer you don’ refuse”: Watch the trailer below for a taste of Al Pacino, Co-President of the Actors Studio, as Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II, then add the masterpiece to your Netflix Queue. 4 Stars!

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6/20/14: The Godfather

Godfather

In the summer of 2011, my ever-increasing age & salary were in stark contrast to The Hartford’s philosophy of cost-cutting & offshoring jobs to India. And middle management, like good lieutenants, was pressuring middle-aged men to quit through intimidation that would make the Mafia proud! On Monday 9/5/11, I’d come to a crossroads in my career at The Hartford after a particularly awful team meeting where my old witch of a manager, Linda, announced an immediate end to all telecommuting within the team. This came as a total surprise to all of us, especially me, since I was the only telecommuter on the team. So I went to my wife for advice. “‘I don’t know what to do, Cindy. I’m weak, emotionally weak. I used to be part of the picture. I just wish I could be right back on top, you know. But this… this man out there, he’s harassing me, and he’s the director of the department.’ ‘What’s his name?’ ‘Pomeroy! There’s no chance I’ll last the year. No chance! I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do…’ ‘YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN, PAULIE!’, she screamed! ‘What’s the matter with you? ‘Oh, what do I do? What do I do?’ Ridiculous! Your review is tomorrow, right? Well, you always said you wanted to retire at 53, right? 52’s a year better.’ The next day, Linda told me what she expected of me over the next year. ‘Linda, I’ve had it with you & Pomeroy! You have a better chance of seeing me grow wings & fly around the word in 80 days than of me working for you in a year. I’m retiring…on Martin Luther King Day!’ I’m a hippie so that whole conflict embracement thing sickens me, so this was NOT the easiest conversation I ever had, to say the least. But it worked. 2 days later she called me & said, “‘I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.’”, and they gave me The Golden Handshake.

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Don Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”, the most famous line from Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is the American Film Institute’s 2nd Greatest Movie Quote of All Time. It’s 1945 & The Don, the head of one of the 5 New York Mafia families, needs a successor. He’s resisting the Mafia’s philosophical change to get involved in underground drug trafficking. With the younger generation taking over, the negotiations that Corleone & the others embraced and which made them all rich during Prohibition & in the casino business are breaking down,  violently at times. He has 3 sons: Recently back from the War, college boy, Michael (Al Pacino) is the youngest; Sonny (James Caan), the oldest, has a bad temper; and his middle son, Fredo (John Cazale) is a dimwit. Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) is The Don’s “adopted son” and Kay (Diane Keaton) is Michael’s girlfriend. This masterpiece won 3 of the original 11 Oscars for which it was nominated in 1973 at the 45th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor (Brando) & Adapted Screenplay (Coppola & Mario Puzo). Nino Rota’s Best Score nomination was reviewed after it was determined that some of the music in it appeared first in his score for 1958’s Fortunella. The other 4 nominees remained intact but the 5th nominee was left to the Music Branch to determine between The Godfather and the remaining 5 of the top ten preliminary contenders. The Branch re-balloted & selected John Addison’s score for Sleuth.

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Early on, Michael tells Kay how his father got Johnny Fontane, the Frank Sinatra-like character (Al Martino), out of his contract with a bandleader. That’s based on a true story. Sinatra tried to buy out of his contract with Tommy Dorsey for $60000, but Dorsey refused. Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra was packing houses with Sinatra crooning in front of the band. So Frank used his Mafia connections, and mob boss Willie Moretti put a gun in Tommy’s mouth he voided the contract for $1. Now, “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse”: Watch the trailer linked below then add The Godfather to your Netflix Queue! 4 Stars!!

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