The Great Debates: The Godfather vs. The Godfather Part II

Howdy Everybody!   I’m throwing another feature into the mix. We’ll see how quickly I run out of these, or if it degenerates into just a movie poll thread eventually or something…   But my intention, at least at the onset here, is to give us a spot to discuss and debate some of the great movie questions of our time.

To start us off? I thought… lets lead with the big one. This is a debate and a discussion that I’ve had several times personally, and I know that people actively take sides. It’s one of the best movie debates ever, because they’re both incredible, incredible movies. Well, I want to hear which side YOU stand on… and why.

Which movie is better, Godfather I or Godfather II?  Click through to read the “Tale of the Tape”.

The Godfather

Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Richard S. Castellano, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Abe Vigoda, Al Lettieri, Gianni Russo, Sterling Hayden, Lenny Montana, Richard Conte, Al Martino, John Marley, Alex Rocco, Morgana King, Corrado Gaipa, Johnny Martino, Victor Rendina, Simonetta Stefanelli, Tom Rosqui, Joe Spinell, Richard Bright

Acclaim: AFI #2 Greatest Film of all time, BFI #4 (Tied with Part II), National Film Registry 1990, #2 on IMDb’s Top 250, #1 on Metacritic, 100% fresh Rotten Tomatoes

Academy Awards:

Won: Best Actor (Brando), Best Picture, Best Screenplay (Puzo/Coppola)

Nominated For: Best Supporting Actor: (Duvall, Caan, Pacino), Best Director (Coppola) Best Costumes, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Sound

What’s in its favor?  Closer to the tommy-gun toting mafia wars period that Americans romanticize. Michael’s character arc. Brando creating an indelible character. Apollonia. “Bada-BING!” The Horse’s head. The family (both relatives and crime) has affection for each other, and loyalty. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”.

The Godfather is a fantastic period piece epic that feels completely authentic. Mixed throughout its tale of Mafia succession and supremacy is the story of a Father and his sons, and how they pay for his sins.

The Godfather: Part II

Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, Morgana King, G. D. Spradlin, Richard Bright, Gastone Moschin, Troy Donahue, Dominic Chianese, Joe Spinell, Bruno Kirby, Al Martino, James Caan

Acclaim: AFI #32 Greatest Film of All Time, BFI #4 (Tied with Part II), National Film Registry 1993, #3 on IMDb’s Top 250, 98% on Rotten Tomatoes

Academy Awards

Won: Best Picture, Best Director (Coppola), Best Supporting Actor (DeNiro), Best Score, Best Art Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominated For: Best Actor (Pacino), Best Supporting Actor (Gazzo, Strasberg) Best Actress (Shire) Best Costumes

What’s in its favor? Frankie Pentangeli. Hymen Roth. “This *nght* is the business *nght* we’ve chosen!” Michael’s spider senses. The final shot on the park bench. The silhouette of the fishing boat. “I know it was you Fredo!” John Cazale’s performance. Robert De Niro making us believe he’s a young Marlon Brando. The haunting final shot.

The Godfather: Part II is a cold-hearted killer of a film. An unflinching look at the cost of selling your soul. Michael’s ends not only fail to justify his means, he’s lost track of what the ends are.

_______________________________________________________________________

These are two of the most acclaimed films of all time. A legendary film, followed by what is undeniably one of the greatest sequels ever. So what do you think? Which gets your vote? And perhaps more importantly, WHY? Whose family are you with, I or II?

“Senator… you can have my answer now, if you like.”

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66 thoughts on “The Great Debates: The Godfather vs. The Godfather Part II

  1. The Godfather. Why? Sonny Corleone getting wasted! LOL That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it haha. :D

    • No argument here.

      “Look how they massacred my boy…”
      :D

      I always cite that scene in my argument against CGI blood. That’s 40+ years old now but looks more realistic than today’s effects a lot of times.

      • Probably the first act of violence on-screen where I actually winced. Which is weird because I saw way more messed up things on-screen before I saw The Godfather. It’s got to be the realism.

  2. Goodfellas (I’m just kidding…)

    I voted Part 1 because most of the iconic stuff is in the first movie, but Part II is as good a film to me!

    Nice new segment, I have a feeling Terminator 1 vs Terminator 2 is coming up O.O

    • Mayyyyyybeeeee.

      LOL

      Yeah, that’s a great point. If anyone has any ideas for future installments, shout ‘em out, ok? I have probably like 5 to 10 in mind, but that wont last long, even if I spread them out… so let me hear them!

      Thanks for voting Man of iPodness. :D

  3. Has anybody ever watched part two without first having seen part one?
    I love them both dearly, but that might be that one small detail that holds the sequel back…that it builds upon the first chapter and doesn’t play quite as well without it.

    • That’s a great point, and GFII is definitely extra susceptible to that. Without 1, we just dont know Michael fully.

      Becasue it’s inherent in the nature of a sequel, I might not hold it against it. But you’re right, if they’re that close for you (and they’re both awesome), its as decent a tiebreaker as any!

  4. This is fun, but very hard. I chose the sequel because I am also a fan of the book, which actually covers the material of both movies, and my favorite parts of the book are Vito’s back-stories.

    I do agree with the comment above that you have to watch the first to get to the second, so that makes the first stronger in a lot of ways, but I think the second one has a darkness to it that the first just doesn’t. Such a hard choice.

  5. “This poll can not find nonce.” What the ___? Anyway. Brando or Brandoless? I vote Brando! Brando’s Oscar non-acceptance acceptance deserves a place in the Academy Awards Hall of Fame!

    • Aww… this sucks.

      Technical difficulties with the poll are going to be impossible for me to address at the moment.

      It was working early, I might just say check back in case its like server related or something and resolves itself.

      I’ll try to contact wordpress

  6. I prefer The Godfather. Both are amazing, no doubt, but I preferred the emphasis on Brando’s Vito in the original. Plus Michael became such an unlikable asshole in the sequel, heh.

  7. Tough one but I will have to go with the original myself. Yea, there is Sonny getting wasted but there is also Apollonia getting blown up (!!) and Vito dying of a heart attack while playing with his grandson. Great flick :D

  8. Right off, I don’t think there’s a wrong answer on this one. Picking either one you end up with a winner no matter what. My personal choice is ‘The Godfather’ (see this post as to why). I’d add another argument to that. Look at the two by subtraction. For whatever movie, remove the other from existence. In each case, is what you have left diminished by this? Part II builds beautifully upon what came before, but it depends upon the original movie more than the other way around. But, that’s just me ;-). Again, no wrong pick. Fun post, Fogs.

    • Thanks Mike! Nice writeup. I find it hard to think of a year where I shouldn’t have won the Oscar. LOL. Few movies I would rank ahead of it!

      It’s like you say, there’s no wrong answer here. I dont argue either of them too vehemnetly because I think they’re both incredible… Although I did have to disagree that II couldnt exist without I. Its the beneficiary for sure, but I think if someone watched it without the original, they would still think it was awesome.

      I could be wrong. Thats my gut instinct though…

  9. yeah great debate, but have to go with the classic. the dude waking up with his horse head in his bed has to be one of my all time memorable movie moments and answers the question. “what happens when one refuses the offer you can’t refuse?” classic Brando and Michael as of yet uncorrupted. Love the original.

    • I agree, it is a crazy discussion. One of my favorites.

      One of the future ones might just be one we had this weekend Alien vs Aliens. Oh yeah. Another good one. And maybe it’ll give some validity to my side. Hope hope. LOL

      Khartoum! I mentioned him when I had my “What’s YOUR favorite movie animal” discussion. LOL. Thought that was an evil little joke… :D

  10. I actually think the first one takes the cake, although the pacing of number two is better.
    First one has Luca Brasi’s “may their first child be a masculine child” soliloquy and Johnny Fontaine, a crooner singer Vito got out of his original contract, whose story is eerily familiar to Ol’ Blue Eyes (Sinatra) some say. Having read the book, I think the first movie does a great job of representing the characters including the ‘Thunderbolt’ scenes meeting Apollonia with her family-supervised courtship. This first film set the stage for the franchise and shows how ruthless Michael is and will be “don’t ask me about my business Kay.” All in all just as a fine a film as their is and kind of an unofficial commentary on Italian-American mafia post WWII for about 10+ years.

    • I love the fact he allows her to ask about his business “One time” and then lies to her. LOL

      Its great. No one has given Sollozzo a shout out yet. So I have to. He’s awesome. “I’m a businessman, Tom. Blood is a big expense!” :D

      But yeah, its a fantastic period piece, it has Michael’s character arc, the stuff in Italy is great… It’s definitely a classic.

  11. The Godfather is my choice of the two. Both are very well done but I feel the first provided the classic, straight ahead story development, with the depth of each character, and plenty of surprises which were now expected in part II.

  12. I usually can make a call, this and a handful of other comparisons I deigned to not form an opinion one way or the other long ago lest my head explode! Thanks loads for renewed eye twitch Fogs

  13. I pick the Godfather. In my mind, Godfather is still the most quotable movie ever.

    “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”
    “Mikey, why don’t you tell that nice girl you love her? I love you with all-a my heart, if I don’t see-a you again soon, I’m-a gonna die.”
    “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”
    “It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

    Although, number 2 had one or two famous quotes:

    “My father always said, keep your friend close, but keep your enemies closer.”

    Anyways, I digress. I love number one, because I love the whole downfall of the Godfather and the rise of Michael Corleone. All around a good time!

    • Oh, II is quotable as hell, too, Jen!

      “Oh yeah? Clemenza promised them ougats!”

      .”It’ll be as if she never existed. All that’s left is our friendship.”

      “I’m your older brother Mike and I was stepped OVER!”

      Oh man… they’re both loaded with awesome dialogue. This is a sick choice! :D

  14. No contest, Godfather 1 was one the best movies of all time and was much better than no. 2. Brando’s acting as Don Corleone, made you feel like this guy was a real professional mafioso killer. The scracthy voice, “I’m going to make him and off he can’t refuse, I asure you either his brains or signature will be on that contract”. “On the day of my daughters wedding you ask me to do murder”.
    The acting of James Caan as Sonny was also unmatched in the second one. “Nice college Boy don’t want to get mixed up in the family business, This is not the army where you shoot him from a 1000 yards, You have get up close and blow his brains out”. I like how Sonny tries to take everything into his own hands and just kick everybodies ass. Yes, Michael had some rise to power in the first one, leading into the second one, but I still think the acting was much better in the first which makes the movie. I did not buy into Michael as a real tough Don, because i compared him to Brando.There was no raspy scratchy voice of Brando in the second.

    • The Brando element has always been the primary selling point for I, for me. He’s so awesome in it. Just the power he has. He’s a freaking lion. And you’re right the acting is phenomenal Brando creates this unforgettable character. Even Pacino’s performance is better in I than in II… not that he’s bad in any way in II, but he’s given an arc in I.

      And I love Santino, too. The scene where he kicks the shit out of Carlo with the garbage can lid? That’s awesome. LOVE it.

      That said, Mike. I dont know if I’d say Michael wasn’t a tough Don. He might have you shot just for typing that. LOL! :D

  15. I voted II.

    It has the single best ‘character arc’ of any movie. Pacino in that movie is nothing short of perfection as an actor. There’s not a moment you dont believe that HE belives he’s doing the right thing. And Deniro is almost as good. It’s also one the most perfect uses of non-linear story telling, telling parallel stories where each reinforces and multiples the other. GF II was really a new way of telling stories in the motion picture medium, at least the first to gain such a strong acceptance from the movie going public and the industry at large. GF I was really a fairly straight forward linear story with a beginning at the beginning, a middle in the middle and an end at the end. GF II is a magnificent expansion on the original, one that surpasses it’s forefather, much as Michael surpassed Vito in crime.

    • The best argument for II so far, I believe. I do enjoy the parallel narratives, it is great. Fantastic contrast too, plainly illustrates how Michael is missing the point.

      Yes, I always believe he thinks what he’s doing is right, but he’s just lost his vision of what’s important to a fatal degree.

      As far as “Surpassing” the original, well, that’s the opinion part of this thing isnt it? :D

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