The Godfather: Part II (1974)

10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great and slightly better than the original


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Godfather:  Part II

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 17, 1974

MPAA Rating:  R


Are we going to have a problem here?

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is ruling his family and much of North America’s organized crime from his Lake Tahoe home.  With his wife Kate (Diane Keaton) expecting another child and plans to expand to Cuba with rival Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg).  When someone tries to kill Michael at his home, Michael realizes he has someone in his family who is a traitor.  As the search for who betrayed him increases, Michael also faces a challenge from the United States government who is going after her underworld empire.  As Michael battles for control, memories of his father Vito Andolini (Robert De Niro) and his own rise to power are remembered.


You broke my heart, Fredo

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather:  Part II was one of the first major sequels to simply use “Part II” in the title.  Following The Godfather which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1972, The Godfather: Part II also won critical acclaim.  The movie received the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Best Music with nominations for Best Actor (Al Pacino), Best Supporting Actor (Michael V. Gazzo and Lee Strasberg), Best Supporting Actress (Talia Shire), and Best Costume Design.  The movie was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry and the quotes “Keep your friends Close, but your enemies closer” was cited as one of the greatest all time quotes.


Hey, Kay…You’re dead to me!

When I first saw The Godfather and The Godfather:  Part II, I saw them as The Godfather Saga which weaved both The Godfather and The Godfather:  Part II into one film by placing most of the flashbacks in order and adding extra footage.  I found myself liking The Godfather:  Part II portions slightly better…possibly since by then I had gotten a better handle on the characters.

The story for The Godfather:  Part II is much more complex.  It shows the final corruption of a man.  Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is no longer the relatively happy man he was at the wedding at the beginning of The Godfather and as his sister points out he’s gotten intentionally cold to protect his family.  That isn’t true however…I don’t see Brando’s character ever killing one of his children.  Michael crosses the line when he has Fredo killed and in my opinion, he can’t come back (no matter how hard The Godfather:  Part III tries).


How Vito Corleone came to be!

The movie is an interesting story of America as well.  The story contrasts where Michael has landed by following his father’s trip from Italy as a child.  It shows how a little kid that people called “dumb” was able to become a kingpin of crime.  It then also shows country’s eventual (and slow) reaction to it by having Michael on trial for his crimes…which they fail miserably.

The acting for the film is top notch just like the first film.  Pacino has Michael Corleone down.  He plays him with seething anger and scenes like his explosion with the great Michael V. Gazzo (“In my home!  In my bedroom!  Where my wife sleeps… my children play with their toys”) or confronting Fredo (in one of the best moments from the film) about is betrayal (“I know it was you, Fredo.  You broke my heart.  You broke my heart!”).  He plays it perfectly…even when not talking.


Did I say organized crime? I meant organized lime…yeah, lime

Pacino is joined by a great supporting cast.  People often argue if Kay is evil for her actions or if she should have known what she was signing up for when marrying Michael…either way Diane Keaton is also strong.  Robert Duvall’s role is much smaller in this film, but he does a good job Tom Hagen.  I love John Cazale’s middle brother Fredo…It is shame that Cazale died so young because he showed such promise as an actor.  Robert De Niro had already played in Mean Streets but this really shot him to stardom and got him an Academy Award…he really channels Brando’s Vito Corleone.  Talia Shire also does well with her small role and her plea to Michael near the end is a great moment in the film.  Both Lee Strasberg and Michael V. Gazzo also received nominations for their roles…Strasberg is strong as the dying Hyman but Gazzo is a scene stealer with his performance at the Lake Tahoe celebration and his testimony before Congress.


Say goodbye…

The movie also really has a vision.  It is a little cleaner than The Godfather and has more variety in its venues.  I love the Old World/old New York stuff and how it looks.  The movie also goes tropical with the trips to Cuba and Florida and it also has the great Lake Tahoe scenes (especially the fun winter scenes)…the end of Fredo is still one of my favorite moments in the series.

The Godfather and The Godfather:  Part II are highly debated movies…which film is better often divides critics.  I fall on the side of The Godfather:  Part II.  I enjoy the flashbacks, the political stuff, and the Fredo storyline.  I love The Godfather but The Godfather:  Part II has that extra spice that makes it just a bit better.  The Godfather:  Part II was followed by The Godfather:  Part III in 1990 which unfortunately tainted The Godfather and The Godfather:  Part II’s legacy in my book.

Related Links:

The Godfather (1972)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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