The Godfather Part II
|The Godfather Part II|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Produced by||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Based on||The Godfather
by Mario Puzo
|Music by||Nino Rota|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$47.5–57.3 million (North America)|
The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American epic crime film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay co-written with Mario Puzo, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Partially based on Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather, the film is both sequel and prequel to The Godfather, presenting parallel dramas: one picks up the 1958 story of Michael Corleone (Pacino), the new Don of the Corleone crime family, protecting the family business in the aftermath of an attempt on his life; the prequel covers the journey of his father, Vito Corleone (De Niro), from his Sicilian childhood to the founding of his family enterprise in New York City.
The film received widespread acclaim from critics, with some deeming it superior to the 1972 original, an Oscar winner for Best Picture. Nominated for eleven Academy Awards and the first sequel to win for Best Picture, its six Oscars included Best Director for Coppola, Best Supporting Actor for De Niro and Best Adapted Screenplay for Coppola and Puzo. Pacino won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Both this film and its predecessor remain highly influential films in the gangster genre. In 1997, the American Film Institute ranked it as the 32nd-greatest film in American film history and it kept its rank 10 years later. It was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1993.
Another sequel, The Godfather Part III, was released in 1990.
- In 1901, Corleone, Sicily, nine-year-old Vito Andolini’s family is killed after his father insults local Mafia chieftain Don Ciccio. He escapes to New York and is registered as "Vito Corleone" on Ellis Island.
On the occasion of the 1958 first communion party for his son, Michael Corleone has a series of meetings in his role as the Don of his crime family. He and Nevada Senator Pat Geary, discuss the terms of a fourth state gaming license for a Corleone hotel, but the two only trade insults and demand payoffs. Johnny Ola arrives to express support for Michael on behalf of Florida gangster Hyman Roth. At the same time as the Don tries to manage his depressed sister Connie and older brother Fredo, Corleone caporegime Frank Pentangeli is dismayed his boss does not help him defend New York against the Rosato brothers, who work for the Jewish Roth. That night, Michael survives an assassination attempt at his home. He puts consigliere Tom Hagen in charge, reassuring him of their fraternal bond.
- In 1917, Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) lives in a tenement with his wife Carmela and son Sonny and works in a New York grocery store owned by the father of a close friend. A member of the Black Hand, Don Fanucci, who extorts protection payments from local businesses, forces the store owner to fire Vito and give his job to Fanucci's nephew. As a favor to his neighbor, Peter Clemenza, Vito hides a stash of guns; in return, he is invited to the burglary of a rich apartment. His share of the loot is a plush rug, which he lays in his own living room.
In Miami, Michael tells Roth that Pentangeli was behind the assassination attempt; Michael then travels to New York where he tells Pentangeli that Roth ordered it and asks him to cooperate with his plan for revenge. Pentangeli meets the Rosatos, and their men ambush him, saying they act on Michael's orders. However, a passing policeman interrupts them, and they flee, leaving Pentangeli for dead.
Senator Geary finds himself in Fredo's brothel with a dead prostitute and no memory of how he got there; he accepts Tom's offer of "friendship" to cover up the incident.
After witnessing a rebel suicide bombing in Havana, Cuba, Michael becomes convinced of the rebels' resolve to overthrow the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Fredo brings him money to close a deal with Roth, but instead he asks who put out the hit on Pentangeli. Roth recalls his late friend Moe Greene—killed in a spate of Corleone executions—saying, "This is the business we've chosen. I didn't ask who gave the order because it had nothing to do with business!" En route to President Batista's New Year's Eve party, Michael tells Fredo that Roth has made plans to kill him as he leaves the party. Fredo inadvertently contradicts his previous claim that he doesn't know Johnny Ola. Michael's bodyguard strangles Ola but is killed by police before he can finish off the ailing Roth. Michael, embracing his brother, reveals he knows that Fredo betrayed him, and Fredo flees in the chaos of the rebel takeover. Back home, Tom informs Michael that Roth is recovering in Miami and that Kay has miscarried.
- Three years later, two more sons—Fredo and Michael—have been born to Vito. He and his partners (Clemenza and Sal Tessio) face extortion by Don Fanucci, who demands that they let him "wet his beak" from their recent burglary or he will have the police ruin the Corleone family. Vito persuades his partners to pay him $50 each and he will convince Fanucci to accept less than he asks and promises he will "make him an offer he won't refuse" as a favor to them. During a neighborhood festa, Vito meets with Fanucci and earns his respect. He then follows Fanucci, surprises him in his apartment foyer, shoots and kills him, takes back his partners' money, and escapes.
In Washington, D.C., a Senate committee investigating the Corleone family cannot find evidence to implicate Michael until a surprise witness is called, Pentangeli - who survived the attempt on his life and is under witness protection.
- Vito has become a respected figure in his New York community. He confronts a landlord who doesn't know him, offering extra money to let a widow keep her apartment. The landlord says he has already leased it and becomes angry when Vito demands that he allow her to keep her dog. Later the landlord learns that he may have offended the wrong person. Terrified, he returns to assure Vito that the widow can stay, along with her dog, at a reduced rent.
Michael and Tom observe that Roth's strategy to destroy Michael is well-planned. Fredo is returned to Nevada, where he privately explains himself to Michael: resentful at being passed over to head the family, he helped Roth in expectation of something in return, unaware, he claims, of the plot on Michael's life. He informs his brother that the Senate Committee's chief counsel is on Roth's payroll. Michael disowns Fredo and cautions Al Neri, "I don't want anything to happen to him while my mother's alive".
Pentangeli, ensconced in FBI witness protection and ready to avenge the attempt on his life, is prepared to confirm accusations against Michael until his Sicilian brother attends the hearing at the Don's side; Pentangeli denies his sworn statements, and the hearing dissolves in an uproar. Afterwards, Michael violently prevents Kay from leaving with their children; she retaliates with the revelation that her miscarriage was actually an abortion.
- Vito, together with his young family, visits Sicily for the first time since childhood. He is introduced to the elderly Don Ciccio by Don Tommasino as the man who imports their olive oil to America and who wants his blessing. When Ciccio asks Vito who his father was, Vito says, "My father's name was Antonio Andolini, and this is for you!" He then plunges a large knife into the old man's stomach and carves it open. As they flee, Tommasino is shot and injured.
Carmela Corleone dies. At the funeral, a reformed Connie implores Michael to forgive Fredo. Michael relents and embraces Fredo but stares intently at Al Neri. Roth is refused asylum and even entry to Israel. Over Tom's dissent, Michael plans his revenge. Tom visits Pentangeli and offers to spare his family, reminding him that failed plotters against the Roman Emperor took their own lives.
Connie helps Kay visit her children, but Michael closes the door on any forgiveness.
As he arrives in Miami to be taken into custody, Hyman Roth is fatally shot by Rocco Lampone, who is immediately killed by FBI agents. Frank Pentangeli is discovered dead in his bathtub with slit wrists. Al shoots Fredo while they are fishing on Lake Tahoe.
- On December 7, 1941, the Corleone family gathers to surprise Vito for his fiftieth birthday. Sonny introduces Carlo Rizzi to Connie. Tessio comes in with the cake, and they discuss the attack on Pearl Harbor. Michael announces he has left college and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, leaving Sonny furious, Tom incredulous, and Fredo the only brother supportive. Vito is heard at the door, and all but Michael leave the room to greet him.
Michael sits alone by the lake at the family compound.
- James Caan agreed to reprise the role of Sonny in the birthday flashback sequence, demanding he be paid the same amount he received for the entire previous film for the single scene in Part II, which he received.
- Marlon Brando initially agreed to return for the birthday flashback sequence, but the actor, feeling mistreated by the board at Paramount, failed to show up for the single day's shooting; Coppola rewrote the scene that same day.
- Richard Castellano, who portrayed Peter Clemenza in the first film, also declined to return, as he and the producers could not reach an agreement on his demands that he be allowed to write the character's dialogue in the film. The part in the plot originally intended for the latter-day Clemenza was then filled by the character of Frank Pentangeli, played by Michael V. Gazzo.
- Troy Donahue, in a small role as Connie's boyfriend, plays a character named Merle Johnson, which was his birth name.
- Two actors who appear in the film played different character roles in other Godfather films; Carmine Caridi, who plays Carmine Rosato, also went on to play crime boss Albert Volpe in The Godfather Part III, and Frank Sivero, who plays a young Genco Abbandando, appears as a bystander in The Godfather scene in which Sonny beats up Carlo for abusing Connie.
- Among the actors depicting Senators in the hearing committee are film producer/director Roger Corman, writer/producer William Bowers, producer Phil Feldman, and science-fiction writer Richard Matheson.
The Godfather Part II was shot between October 1, 1973 and June 19, 1974, and was the last major American motion picture to have release prints made with Technicolor's dye imbibition process until the late 1990s. The scenes that took place in Cuba were shot in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Charles Bluhdorn, whose Gulf+Western conglomerate owned Paramount, felt strongly about developing the Dominican Republic as a movie-making site.
The Lake Tahoe house and grounds portrayed in the film are Fleur du Lac, the summer estate of Henry J. Kaiser on the California side of the lake. The only structures used in the movie that still remain are the complex of old native stone boathouses with their wrought iron gates. Although Fleur du Lac is private property and no one is allowed ashore there, the boathouses and multi-million dollar condominiums may be viewed from the lake.
Unlike with the first film, Coppola was given near-complete control over production. In his commentary, he said this resulted in a shoot that ran very smoothly despite multiple locations and two narratives running parallel within one film.
Production nearly ended before it began when Pacino's lawyers told Coppola that he had grave misgivings with the script and was not coming. Coppola spent an entire night rewriting it before giving it to Pacino for his review. Pacino approved and the production went forward.
Coppola discusses his decision to make this the first major motion picture to use "Part II" in its title in the director's commentary on the DVD edition of the film released in 2002. Paramount was initially opposed because they believed the audience would not be interested in an addition to a story they had already seen. But the director prevailed, and the film's success began the common practice of numbered sequels.
Still, three weeks prior to the release, film critics and journalists pronounced Part II a disaster. The cross-cutting between Vito and Michael's parallel stories were judged too frequent, not allowing enough time to leave a lasting impression on the audience. Coppola and the editors returned to the cutting room to change the film's narrative structure, but could not complete the work in time, leaving the final scenes poorly timed at the opening.
Whether considered separately or with its predecessor as one work, The Godfather Part II is widely accepted as one of world cinema's greatest achievements. Many critics compare it favorably with the original – although it is rarely ranked higher on lists of "greatest" films. Michael Sragow's conclusion in his 2002 essay, selected for the National Film Registry web site, is that "[a]lthough “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II” depict an American family’s moral defeat, as a mammoth, pioneering work of art it remains a national creative triumph."
The Godfather Part II:
- Was featured on Sight and Sound 's list of the ten greatest films of all time in 1992 and 2002.
- Is ranked #7 on Entertainment Weekly 's list of the "100 Greatest Movies of All Time".
- Received only two negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a 97% approval rating, 2 points less than The Godfather, but 30 points more than The Godfather Part III.
- Is ranked #1 on TV Guide 's 1998 list of the "50 Greatest Movies of All Time on TV and Video".
Pacino's performance in The Godfather Part II is perhaps his best, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was criticized for awarding the Academy Award for Best Actor that year to Art Carney for his role in Harry and Tonto. It is now regarded as one of the greatest performances in film history. In 2006, Premiere issued its list of "The 100 Greatest Performances of all Time", putting Pacino's performance at #20. Later in 2009, Total Film issued "The 150 Greatest Performances of All Time", ranking Pacino's performance fourth place.
The Godfather Part II did not surpass the original film commercially, but in North America it grossed $47.5 million on a $13 million budget. It was Paramount Pictures' highest-grossing film of 1974 and was the fifth-highest-grossing picture in North America that year.
Releases for television and video
Coppola created The Godfather Saga expressly for American television in a 1975 release that combined The Godfather and The Godfather Part II with unused footage from those two films in a chronological telling that toned down the violent, sexual, and profane material for its NBC debut on November 18, 1977. In 1981, Paramount released the Godfather Epic boxed set, which also told the story of the first two films in chronological order, again with additional scenes, but not redacted for broadcast sensibilities. Coppola returned to the film again in 1992 when he updated that release with footage from The Godfather Part III and more unreleased material. This home viewing release, under the title The Godfather Trilogy 1901–1980, had a total run time of 583 minutes (9 hours, 43 minutes), not including the set's bonus documentary by Jeff Werner on the making of the films, "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside".
The Godfather DVD Collection was released on October 9, 2001 in a package that contained all three films—each with a commentary track by Coppola—and a bonus disc that featured a 73-minute documentary from 1991 entitled The Godfather Family: A Look Inside and other miscellany about the film: the additional scenes originally contained in The Godfather Saga; Francis Coppola's Notebook (a look inside a notebook the director kept with him at all times during the production of the film); rehearsal footage; a promotional featurette from 1971; and video segments on Gordon Willis's cinematography, Nino Rota's and Carmine Coppola's music, the director, the locations and Mario Puzo's screenplays. The DVD also held a Corleone family tree, a "Godfather" timeline, and footage of the Academy Award acceptance speeches.
The restoration was confirmed by Francis Ford Coppola during a question-and-answer session for The Godfather Part III, when he said that he had just seen the new transfer and it was "terrific".
After a careful restoration of the first two movies, The Godfather movies were released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 23, 2008, under the title The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. The work was done by Robert A. Harris of Film Preserve. The Blu-ray Disc box set (four discs) includes high-definition extra features on the restoration and film. They are included on Disc 5 of the DVD box set (five discs).
Other extras are ported over from Paramount's 2001 DVD release. There are slight differences between the repurposed extras on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc sets, with the HD box having more content.
This film was the first sequel to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and remains the only time the prize went to a sequel of a Best Picture winner. Along with The Lord of the Rings it shares the distinction that all of its installments were nominated for Best Picture.
American Film Institute recognition
- 1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – #32
- 2003: AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- 2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – #32
- 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10 – #3 Gangster Film and Nominated Epic Film
- "The Godfather II". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "The Godfather Part II (1974)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
- "The Godfather: Part II (1974) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- Stax (July 28, 2003). "Featured Filmmaker: Francis Ford Coppola". Retrieved 30 November 2010.
- "Citizen Kane Stands the test of Time". American Film Institute.
- "The National Film Registry List – Library of Congress". loc.gov. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "Movie Set Hotel: The Godfather II", HotelChatter, 12–05–2006.
- The Godfather Part II DVD commentary featuring Francis Ford Coppola, 
- The Godfather Family: A look Inside
- Sragow, Michael (2002). "The Godfather and The Godfather Part II" (PDF). “The A List: The National Society of Film Critics’ 100 Essential Films,” 2002.
- The Godfather, Part II Movie Reviewers – Rotten Tomatoes
- TV Guide list of 50 Best
- "The 100 Greatest Performances" filmsite.org
- "The 150 Greatest Performances Of All Time" TotalFilm. com
- "DVD review: 'The Godfather Collection'". DVD Spin Doctor. July 2007.
- The Godfather DVD Collection 
- "Godfather: Coppola Restoration", September 23 on DVD Spin Doctor
- "47th Academy Awards Winners: Best Picture". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "AFI's 10 Top 10: Top 10 Gangster". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- "EA Announces New Street Date for The Godfather II". EA.com. February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Godfather: Part II|
- The Godfather – Official site from Paramount Pictures
- The Godfather Part II at the Internet Movie Database
- The Godfather Part II at AllMovie
- The Godfather: Part II at Metacritic
- The Godfather Part II at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Godfather Part II at the TCM Movie Database