Sunday, January 28, 2024

Are you related to Al Capone?

  If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

The Godfather is a crime novel by American author Mario Puzo. Originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, the novel details the story of a fictional Mafia family in New York City (and Long Island), headed by Vito Corleone, the Godfather. The novel covers the years 1945 to 1955 and includes the backstory of Vito Corleone from early childhood to adulthood.

Born in 1960 I was nine years old when the book came out. The Godfather (the movie) premiered at the Loew's State Theatre on March 14, 1972, and was widely released in the United States on March 24, 1972. It was the highest-grossing film of 1972, and was for a time the highest-grossing film ever made, earning between $250 and $291 million at the box office.

And, I was fourteen years old when The Godfather Part II premiered in New York City on December 12, 1974. It grossed $48 million in the United States and Canada and up to $93 million worldwide on a $13 million budget. 

The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and became the first sequel to win Best Picture. Its six Oscar wins also included Best Director for Coppola, Best Supporting Actor for De Niro and Best Adapted Screenplay for Coppola and Puzo. Pacino won Best Actor at the BAFTAs and was nominated at the Oscars. Like its predecessor, The Godfather Part II remains a highly influential film, especially in the gangster genre. It is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, as well as the rare example of a sequel that may be superior to its predecessor. In 1997, the American Film Institute ranked it as the 32nd-greatest film in American film history and it retained this position 10 years later. It was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1993, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". 

And I was thirty years old when The Godfather Part III, the final installment in the trilogy, was released in 1990. 

I first saw The Godfather when it was released on VHS in the 80s. Somewhere in the house is The Godfather DVD COLLECTION, 5-Disc set. It was given to me as a birthday gift, many years ago. 

And now, in 2024, at 63 years old I am listening to........ 


Publisher's summary: Mario Puzo's classic saga of an American crime family that became a global phenomenon - nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read.

With its brilliant and brutal portrayal of the Corleone family, The Godfather burned its way into our national consciousness. This unforgettable saga of crime and corruption, passion and loyalty continues to stand the test of time, as the definitive novel of the Mafia underworld.

A #1 New York Times bestseller in 1969, Mario Puzo's epic was turned into the incomparable film of the same name, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is the original classic that has been often imitated, but never matched. A tale of family and society, law and order, obedience and rebellion, it reveals the dark passions of human nature played out against a backdrop of the American dream.


Did you catch that? "...burned its way into our national consciousness..." So, for me, personally, from 1972 to 2024, The Godfather has been a part of my life. I never read (any) of the paper books from Mario Puzo. I have now watched ALL of The Godfather movies, well over a dozen times. But movies are not paper books. 

I love - and I especially love audio books "read by the Author" as it makes me feel like they are talking directly TO ME. But most of the time, I listen to BUSINESS BOOKS. This is the first time that I am listening to a non-business book on Audible. And, it is.... amazing

In The Godfather movies, I don't remember them ever mentioning Al Capone by name. In the audio book, his name comes up. Often. Many, many times. And, in the audible book (all 18 hours, 48 minutes worth) they go deeply into the various characters - much more deeply than possible in the movie (The Godfather Part I was just under 3 hours in total). When watching a movie, we forget how many hours are edited out, how much content will find its way to the editing room floor. An author of a book is not a movie director, nor a movie editor. And actors tend to ad-lib. 

One of The Godfather Part I most memorable lines -- “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli” was entirely improvised and, but for a moment of inspiration, might not have happened. It's not in the book, and it almost never made it into the movie. 

The director Coppola left it in. The results take an already great scene into the realm of immortality, maintaining the harsh message of the dead man in public view while closing with the supposedly ordinary lifestyle of “normal” Americans. Assassination is just another chore on Clemenza’s checklist, and while shooting a traitor to the family in the head is no big deal, he doesn’t want his wife getting angry at him for losing an expensive dessert. Coppola recognized the greatness of the improv by including it in the film, proof that greatness can come from serendipity as much as careful planning.

It was serendipity that made me download and listen to The Godfather 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION. Normally, I would have downloaded a business book for my business trip. And now, I am thinking about doing this again (and again) especially for all the movies of my life

Next up: JAWS. Ah yes - the movie that kept me from swimming in the ocean for years. I never read the book. It's time to give it a listen. 

OK, so go ahead. Ask me. You want to know if I am related to Al Capone? 

Yes. Yes I am. 

Especially when I am on the phone, making last-minute dinner reservations in NYC. Being in "sales" from time to time, "I make people an offer they cannot refuse..."

And that quote WAS in the book AND in the movie....... 

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

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