The World According to Keitho

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This is the business we have chosen!

Posted by keithosaunders on February 15, 2011

Watching The Godfather is like eating Lays potato chips — with Lays you can’t eat only one chip, and with The Godfather you can’t turn it off after only one scene.  I was scanning around the channels Sunday night and happened upon The Godfather II on AMC.  It was just beginning and I said to myself, ‘Let me just watch the opening party scene and I’ll turn it off and go to bed.’  Two hours later, after telling myself I just wanted to get through the Cuba scene, I staggered out of the living room, tired, but happy.    

No matter how many times I see these films — The Godfather and its sequel —  there’s always something new that reveals itself to me.  This time around I realized that when Michael takes a trip to New York to pay a visit to the family friend and associate, Franki Pentangeli, he’s actually visiting the house where he grew up on Long Island where much of the orignal film is set. 

The film is extremely well-written and the plot is layered in such a way that one never runs out of things to key in on.  This time around I was enjoying the scenes with Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth.  Strasberg plays Roth as a genial, yet cunning old mobster who tries to play up his history and loyalty to the Coleone family throughout the years.  There’s a fascinating cat and mouse game between him and Michael — who knows what and how much does he know?    

Finally, frustrated that Michael has not been forthcoming with the money due for a business arrangement Roth bears his fangs:

Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth

There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada… made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI’s on the way to the West Coast. That kid’s name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn’t even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order.  [almost certainly it was the Corleones] When I heard it, I wasn’t angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen; I didn’t ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!

It’s a riveting soliloquy and serves as the perfect description of the business code of these gangsters.  All of the killing and double-crossing — it’s not personal, just business.

Shortly after that scene we see Michael with his brother Fredo and some of Roth’s men at a live sex show in Cuba.  Fredo, who is drunk, accidentally let’s slip that he knows Johnny Olin, (Roth’s #1 man) thus revealing to Michael that he has double crossed the family.  We see the expression on Pacino’s face slowly morph from curiosity to shock, as he realizes that his own brother has betrayed him.  This is all done without a word of dialogue from Pacino.  It is a Brando-esque performance and in my opinion is the best acting of his career.    

"I know it was you, Fredo -- you broke my heart -- you broke my heart!"


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