The Godfather: Part II – 1974 Francis Ford Coppola
It is a massive production. I forget about that over the years. It has hundreds of extras, massive production detail, 5 locations- Miami, NYC, Tahoe, Cuba and Sicily… the scope reminds of Griffith, von Stroheim, David Lean and it never feels overlong or bloated
Guardian says it’s the greatest single final scene in Hollywood history
Time out says it’s one of the saddest movies ever made- I tend to agree
De Niro won the Oscar for supporting. He’s superb as is every other secondary character from Diane Keaton to John Cazale to Michael Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli and Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth
Pacino is the show though- as good as de niro or anyone else is, it’s his film—it’s disciplined and probably his best work
Like all of Coppola’s films it’s wonderfully edited- dissolves galore here
The opening Lake Tahoe confirmation celebration certainly mirrors the wedding for the first film
The film, décor and lighting have a remarkably consistent look. The natural lighting is superb
The fredo kiss scene and the roof stalking sequences are two of my favorite 25-50 scenes of all time along with the devastating finale which may be there as well
Great review as usual. I thought it had pacing issues at times, not a complaint but an observation. Understandable considering that they were shifting from one timeline to another. The scenes mentioned were brilliant, my personal favorite is the one between Michael and Tom in the aftermath of the shooting at the house.
If there is one scene to show how deep down Michael is, this was it (there are so many of them,lol). In his scenes with Kay and Fredo, they were rebelling against him to an extent but the way he preyed on Tom and his desire to be considered family was something else. Pacino’ moving his eyes (if I think what has happened) is some of the finest screen acting one will ever see.
Throughout the film, there are so many scenes that are call back to the first, but still manage to have a distinct identity of their own. Excellent. The Pacino Duvall can be linked to Brasi remembering his lines, or the Undertaker but if the first film was more about muscle, the second one is a bit more psychological and the effect that much power has on people and its consequences. Michael was an expert, more cold blooded than everyone else and this I will was his zenith
@ AP- great stuff here. Thank you. I love thoughtful comments like this as it adds to the page. I’ll make sure I keep it when I rewatch and update this page.
I tend to view the Godfather 1 and 2 as both great in their entirety of course (both in my personal top 10 of all time) but you’re right it is also just a great collection of scenes. I don’t think this is necessarily the case with all great films (Stalker for instance all time great movie but not necessarily tons of stand out scenes that you would obsess over more, more of a “the sum greater than their parts” kind of movie) but with GF2 just amazing scene after amazing scene, and so many great quotes from “you offer is this…nothing” and “I know it was you Fredo” “keep your friends close and enemies closer” and so many others
The scope of the movie is so impressive covering not only the Corleone family but Cuba, Las Vegas mob involvement, Ellis Island and the immigrant experience.
When asked what’s better I tend to go back and forth between the 1st and 2nd, really just depends on the day
I agree that the movie’s final scene’s is amongst the greatest ever not just in the raw emotional power but in how each character behaves in a way that reflects what we come to know of them earlier (reverse foreshadowing? ha I don’t know if that’s a real thing)
And the fact that Fredo was the first one to support Michael’s decision to join the Marines, devestating
@James Trapp- “The scope of the movie is so impressive covering not only the Corleone family but Cuba, Las Vegas mob involvement, Ellis Island and the immigrant experience.” – great call here- well said
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Obviously, one element of this movie’s greatness is the pairing of Michael and Vito’s parallel stories. However, there is enough screentime and narrative weight in each plotline to supply an entire feature film. Do you think that both Don’s sequences recut to be completely separate from each other would be masterpieces on their own, or is the comparison and juxtaposition between the two simply too important an aspect of the film’s greatness?
I think Michael’s segment would probably remain a masterpiece, but I’m not sure about young Vito’s.
Graham- Though I’ve never seen it, I know there’s a cut of The Godfather trilogy that does this in chronological order so you could check it out and let us know. We’re on the same page that one major element of the movie’s greatest is the pairing of the parallel stories. But I think each the Michael and the Vito segments would be good enough to hold up as a masterpiece on their own as well.