While blogging tonight, I’m also enjoying a decent Irish whisky, watching The Godfather, and exchanging emails with Matt Traylor.
What I’m about to write isn’t because of the whisky; it’s a firmly-held belief. No matter what the critics or most of the fans say, The Godfather, Part I is still better than Part II. Yeah, II was cool because Mike was, well, Mike from start to finish, without having to deal with him going from war hero to cold-hearted Mob boss.
But I is still better. Why? Because we do see Mike make that change. Besides, by II he’s descended too far into the moral abyss to be sympathetic any longer.
Everyone remembers the big finish to both movies. In the first, Mike has the heads of all the New York Five Families killed, while he maintains a perfect alibi at his nephew’s baptism. All he wanted to do was get his family legit and moved out to Nevada, where he and Kay could be safe together with Little Mike and Baby Sophia Coppola. And killing a bunch of mobsters was the price he had to pay to get his freedom.
That, my friends, is good drama.
Fast-forward to the end of Part II. Mike, mostly safe in Tahoe, kills again. Only this time, he isn’t killing mob bosses who would kill him first, given the chance. Who does he kill? His helpless, repentant, older brother Fredo, a former ally serving time, and an elderly Jew already stripped of his money and power — and also in Federal custody.
Yeah, it’s an interesting character study, seeing how far Michael Corleone has declined. It just doesn’t make for as fine a movie.
You might ask why I haven’t mentioned The Godfather, Part III. The reason is I still haven’t forgiven Francis Ford Coppola for casting his daughter in what should have been the perfect end to a near-perfect trilogy.
UPDATE: Just got to the scene where Mike tells Vito, “I’m with you.” The look on Brando’s face, all pride and regret, is worth the price of admission alone.