St Valentine’s Day At The Paramount

19720901-10The Godfather. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Richard Conte, Sterling Hayden, James Caan, John Marley. Distributed by Paramount Pictures. Cert X. 175 minutes.

I always thought a “press show” was when a movie renter showed his latest product to the press. But the Godfather press show changed all that. All 900 tickets had been allocated weeks before but still the press showed up in force to tell us where they’re really at. The Paramount staff had to deal with a crowd that behaved more like a crowd of hungry bears than like a corps of serious-minded critics.

19720901-11One ageing trendy tried to slip his amoureuse past the cordon by folding his ticket in half. “I haf two tickets. Ve are ze German Press.”

But Paramount’s lady at the gate wasn’t having any of that and the German Press’s lady was sent to stand with the ether ticketless wall flowers.

So the carnage had started outside the cinema, with people trying to storm the barricades. And even if the people in the cinema clap at the end. it seemed hardly worth the effort.

It isn’t so much that The Godfather is a bad movie, it’s just that it’s two hours and 55 minutes long.

Brando’s make-up is good, his acting is as good, but it’s hidden by all that face he’s wearing.

The story is a vicious as they come, and not half as boring as Mario Puzo’s novel which it’s based on – largely because Puzo and Coppola have gutted the hopelessly wordy novel

But it still leaves a hopelessly long movie. Maybe it’s because the style it’s made in is the style gangster movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s were made in – the heavy dissolve from scene to scene.

The movie treats the decline of a powerful Mafia family without mentioning the Mafia once – the Italian-American community leaned on Paramount to get the word cut out.

Instead we get “the mob”, “the family”, “the racket” where we should have the Mafia, and it makes it all seem rather silly – euphemisms always do.

The best thing is the music, by Nino Rota, who always did run up a nice little score for the odd movie.

The most entertaining thing was the press clawing at each other, but when this gets into print they’ll be fighting at another viewing.

In fact I fell asleep in the first hour, but it didn’t make much difference to my understanding of what was going on.

Two disturbing factors: The Godfather is apallingly sexist and it enjoys its violence like any good little rich voyeur getting his kicks.

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