A little over a month ago, one of my favorite HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, aired its season finale and left me blown away. However, with no more Boardwalk to look forward to, it left me thinking about how much of the crime drama movies that I’ve missed out on. The Godfather series, Goodfellas, Once Upon a Time in America, Casino, and so on. Well, today I took my first step towards correcting that mistake, and decided to watch The Godfather Part I.
It goes without saying how fantastic The Godfather is, especially if you’re into crime films. I’ve actually seen this movie a long time ago, but I was about twelve or thirteen, so I really didn’t pay attention, and didn’t even finish it. Of course, now I can see how very wrong I was.
From the very beginning the tone of the movie is set with the wailing music as we’re introduced to the Godfather as he’s attending to an associate who has come to him for assistance. It was weird how as the scene played out I was able to pick out lines I’ve heard before that have been used or parodied in others movies or shows. I guess that comes with the fact that it has taken me so long to come around on the movie. It’s always nice to see where the lines I’ve heard such as, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, or the gestures, such as the elaborate hand movements from Vito Corleone originated from.
I want to talk about my favorite scene, so if you’re like me and haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to skip over this paragraph.
The hospital scene: An intense moment in the film, in which Michael discovers the guards placed to protect his father have been ordered away. This scene created such a sense of dread, that I found myself easily jolted with fear and anticipation. This nerve-racking feeling came, especially when the nurse called out to Michael, then it began. As he listened to the ominous footsteps, it felt as though I was right there with him, cringing with each tap that echoed throughout the halls. All the while, the camera fixates on the stairs, as an unknown man makes his way towards the Corleone’s. When it’s finally revealed that it’s just a friend of the family, the feelings of relief are so overwhelming that I couldn’t help but feel a bit silly. But, none the less, it was still a very effective scene. Even the suspense that built up to when the friend, and Michael stand outside the hospital posing as guards. Not knowing whether or not their ploy would be convincing enough to fool the men ordered to kill Vito, left me nervously tapping my foot on the floor. Among the many candidates to choose from within this movie, that’s the scene that stuck with me the most.
Spoilers Ahead for both Boardwalk Empire and The Godfather. Descriptions of scenes and still images from both shows, skip over if you wish to stay spoiler free.
Now I mentioned how I’m a fan of Boardwalk Empire, so it was interesting to see the inspiration Boardwalk draws on for some of its most noteworthy seasons, mainly in season one. Again, spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen either show. At the end of season one of Boardwalk Empire, there is a hit scene that plays out in the same manner as the hit scene on the five families in The Godfather. I remember thinking to myself how amazing it was in Boardwalk Empire, and now I’m in love with the scene even more after seeing it in The Godfather. Another similarity I found was in the death scene after Sonny orders Paulie to be killed. The scene in which the actual murder takes places mirrors in image and in set up, a scene in Boardwalk Empire. Below are images provided to show the similar shots between the two.
Above is a screenshot from The Godfather, right as Rocco shoots Paulie while Clemenza uses the restroom on the side of the road.
Above is a screenshot from the series, Boardwalk Empire where Agent Sebso shoots Billy Winslow to prevent him from testifying against Nucky Thompson. Taken from Episode 9 Season 1, Belle Femme.
As you can see the shots mirror each other, not completely identical but enough to stir my memory as I was watching The Godfather. Even if I am stretching it a bit visually, the set up for the murder is the same. Both Clemenza and Agent Sebso mention they have to take a leak and pull over right before they murder their victims.
It was fun to pull these similarities between the two and it makes me want to go back and comb through Boardwalk Empire and The Godfather to see if I can pinpoint anymore. Also, I should mention that both of these similarities are drawn from season one of Boardwalk. Although, I have completed season two of Boardwalk, I have yet to see The Godfather Part II, so it will be interesting to see if the second season of Boardwalk drew some inspiration from the second Godfather.
The Godfather is just about forty years old now, so there’s nothing more I can say that hasn’t been said for one of the most highly praised movies ever. It’s amazing how well the movie holds up after all these years, and how it can still spark emotion out of me despite the changing taste and style of movies today. It holds a well deserved classic status and is definitely worth the time to watch. It’s interesting for me to see the inspiration other directors and actors have drawn from The Godfather, whether it’s been parodies, homages, or references. I’ll definitely be paying closer attention to the second movie to try and point out similarities between Boardwalk Empire and The Godfather Part II.
Interested in writing for ThinkingCinematic? Email your entries at RRSOLIS@me.com
Connect with me on these sites: