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Face-Off: Godfather vs. Godfather Part II

02.23.2012by: Paul Huffman
Last week in the battle between Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Ryan Gosling, it was tough to "choose" the better man. But that's the job and Gosling emerged victorious. However when the masses spoke Joseph Gordon-Levitt staged a comeback with our readers winning the vote 10-7. Consider all that love and admiration our belated birthday gift to you, sucka. This week's showdown will prove to be just as difficult for fans of these two films.

With the Oscars creeping up on us I've selected two classics that have received the honor of Best Picture in the past. The Godfather hit the scene, caught the world by surprise and won an Oscar for it in 1972. Then in 1974 came what many consider one of the only sequels to surpass it's predecessor in The Godfather Part II which was also awarded with Best Picture. We will focus on what has made these films so great. The Quotes & Kills, the two legendary actors who have portrayed Vito Corleone and won Oscars for it, the accolades these films have received, and the awesome endings these films give us. Let's jump in to it.
Vito vs. Vito
Marlon Brando had a rough journey in landing the part of the Corleone patriarch in Godfather I. The studio was adamant about him not getting the role and threatened to fire Francis Ford Coppola if he mentioned the name again. Then young Brando knocked his screen test out of the park and the rest is history. Vito in this first film is powerful, menacing in a subtle way, at peace with the man he became, and can shed a tear when the situation calls for it. Brando ended up winning the award for best actor for his portrayal but boycotted the awards by not showing up, his reason being distaste for the way American Indians had been portrayed in Hollywood films.
Robert De Niro was able to approach Vito Corleone in a much different way. The young Vito was subdued, humble, trying to survive, and on the verge of realizing his destiny. Something the character of Vito firmly believed in. It was fascinating to see Vito Corleone go from low level grocery worker to someone the whole neighborhood feared and respected. It mirrored Michael Corleone's transformation with tragically different results. Plus, Bobby D gets plenty of extra bonus points for portraying his whole role speaking Italian. De Niro also won the academy award for Best Actor for portraying the role.
Quotes
-"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

-"You spend time with your family? Good, because a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

-"YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!"

-"Leave the gun, take the canoli."

-"Alright listen, I want someone good and I mean very good to plant that gun, I don't want my brother coming out of that toilet with just his dick in his hand."

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

-"I make him an offer he don' refuse."

-"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

-"If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, is that you can kill anyone."

-"This is the business we've chosen."

Kills
There are a total of 17 kills in Godfather I. Including the bug eyed strangling of Luca Brasi, the murder of Solozzo & the Police Captain (a scene that when shown to executives kept Al Pacino from being fired from the film), the massive gun down of Sonny Corleone, and my favorite the shot in the eye to Moe Greene. There are plenty more and they were brutal, for a director who detests violence Francis sure delivered the goods.
The stand out murder of Godfather Part II is the murder of Don Fanucci that solidified Vito Corleone's position at the top of the underworld in his neighborhood. I mean that sh*t was mean, don't mess with a grocer. The rest of the kills in this film were tamed compared to the original or completely suggested by, but that did not make them any less effective.
Deleted Scenes
There are plenty of memorable scenes left on the cutting room floor in the first film. Most of them belong to Sonny after hearing his father has been shot, a very effective scene is when he went to his fathers office to make some calls and reluctantly glanced at his fathers chair and opted to pull up a chair beside the desk (this illustrates his reluctance to take over the mantle, improvised by James Caan.) There is also a heart warming scene between Michael and Kay in a hotel room that represents a stress free time in the relationship. Also a scene showcasing Sonny, Michael, and Tessio discussing whether or not Clemenza is a traitor. Good stuff.
The deleted scenes in Godfather II are mostly just extensions of scenes already seen in the film. Two memorable deleted scenes however are of when Vito is back in Italy and slaughtering the bodyguards that searched high and low in the village for him before killing the Don who ordered his mother killed. Showed the more ruthless side of Vito.
Endings
Michael has wiped out all his families enemies. Including his own brother in law, before he can officially be crowned Don his wife confronts him on what he's done. Here is where we find out what a good liar Michael will be come. It is chilling seeing the culmination of who Michael has become in this final scene, the caring man who wanted nothing to do with his family business is not recognizable. It was a great performance for Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. The final shot of Kay realizing she's been deceived is legendary.
The final flashback in Godfather II is maybe my favorite scene in the whole movie, we get to see all the faces we've missed, Marlon Brando's no show for filming made the scene more effective and chilling, and most of all we are reminded of the man Michael Corleone used to be. While alienated from his family he still had the principles that carried him through that part of his life. The fact that Fredo is the only member of the family who supports his military aspirations is tragic. The final two shots of Michael's isolation from his family bring his character full circle. Bravo.
Overall Story
The family dynamic in the first film is part of what made it such a classic. The memorable performances put forth by the whole cast and seeing the evolution of Michael Corleone was amazing to witness. I did not get bored for a single second watching this film as some have that I've spoken to. The kills were brutal, the emotion was felt, I still quote lines from the movie to this day. It's a classic you can't refuse.
Some found the plot of this film to hard to follow. Is it the inter-cutting between Vito's story and Michael's story? The contrast between the man that Vito became and the fall from grace that Michael is going through is what put this sequel on a whole other level. We cared about Michael in the first film and his evolution to tragic hero is sad to see, especially the result at the end of the film. It featured a great cast with great performances, and an amazing continuation of what the first film set up which is still rare even today. They don't make em like Godfather II anymore.
Godfather Part II
I had to let the tally speak for itself in this Face-Off. Both films are beloved, but it's true if pushed The Godfather II is grander in scale, the story is more mesmerizing, the continued fall (so to speak of Michael Corleone is more interesting to watch). As great as the first Godfather is, the fact that many people hold it's sequel in higher regard is no fluke, folks! But I know for a fact that this opinion is not shared by all so...

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+1
4:52PM on 02/25/2012

I agree

I probably wouldn't pick the categories that you did to decide, but for me Godfather II is the superior movie. I always thought that the first part was overrated, especially when considered the best movie ever, it felt overlong, the story was too simple and the pacing was off. It is basically a perfectly shot, acted and scored movie but the screenplay wasn't that great. Godfather II, however, is one of my favorite movies, it keeps it interesting with the focus switches, there's a very dramatic
I probably wouldn't pick the categories that you did to decide, but for me Godfather II is the superior movie. I always thought that the first part was overrated, especially when considered the best movie ever, it felt overlong, the story was too simple and the pacing was off. It is basically a perfectly shot, acted and scored movie but the screenplay wasn't that great. Godfather II, however, is one of my favorite movies, it keeps it interesting with the focus switches, there's a very dramatic betrayal, Michael is really descending into the so to say dark side and Vito's story ark is just fantastic. Plus all the pros from the first movie are naturally present here as well.
And as for the most controversial debate, I think I also would go with De Niro as Vito. I love Brando and I loved his portrayal, it's one of the most iconic acting in history, but De Niro did a hell of a job as well. He gave it his own spin but he also kept some of the trademarks made by Brando. There had to be a great pressure on him but he still had the balls to make the character his own in the sequel. Both portrayals are equally good, but just for that pressure aspect I'm going to give it to De Niro
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11:21PM on 02/23/2012

Why was my comment deleted?

I didn't badmouth Paul Huffman and it had 3 replies.....Why?
I didn't badmouth Paul Huffman and it had 3 replies.....Why?
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+2
6:04PM on 02/23/2012
Great article, tough choices. But IMO Godfather I is way more quoted than 2, just ask anyone a quote from the godfather and the first choice will be from the first film... so... it should be a well deserved TIE! BOTH FILMS ARE AWESOME AND TIMELESS
Great article, tough choices. But IMO Godfather I is way more quoted than 2, just ask anyone a quote from the godfather and the first choice will be from the first film... so... it should be a well deserved TIE! BOTH FILMS ARE AWESOME AND TIMELESS
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-20
3:26PM on 02/23/2012
Jack & Jill is way better than these crapfests...

;p
Jack & Jill is way better than these crapfests...

;p
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1:07PM on 02/23/2012
The first Godfather was way better than Godfather 2. After watching the trilogy over a four day span six years ago. I never really understood all the hype behind Godfather 2.
The first Godfather was way better than Godfather 2. After watching the trilogy over a four day span six years ago. I never really understood all the hype behind Godfather 2.
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11:54AM on 02/23/2012

They are equal

I'm not going to pick between the 2. They are both great films.

You could have done better with the quotes for the 1st one though...I was wondering where "Leave the gun. Take the canollis", "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" or "Oh Paulie...won't see him no more" were.
I'm not going to pick between the 2. They are both great films.

You could have done better with the quotes for the 1st one though...I was wondering where "Leave the gun. Take the canollis", "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" or "Oh Paulie...won't see him no more" were.
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11:19AM on 02/23/2012
Such a hard choice because both are great. But I always lean a little more towards Part 2. You can thank bobby deniro for that one
Such a hard choice because both are great. But I always lean a little more towards Part 2. You can thank bobby deniro for that one
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10:52AM on 02/23/2012
I love both but I have to go with the 1st movie. The 1st Godfather I found was more entertaining.
I love both but I have to go with the 1st movie. The 1st Godfather I found was more entertaining.
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10:39AM on 02/23/2012

The original is best.

2 is great for sure, but it kind of has to have the first one before it. Not much of a stand-alone flick, for me. Whereas, the original can exist with or without 2. A timeless classic.
2 is great for sure, but it kind of has to have the first one before it. Not much of a stand-alone flick, for me. Whereas, the original can exist with or without 2. A timeless classic.
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10:35AM on 02/23/2012
I've just recently seen the first 2 parts on blu-ray...and i have to say that while I do believe the Godfather Part II is superior....there is just something about Marlon Brando as Don Vito...
I've just recently seen the first 2 parts on blu-ray...and i have to say that while I do believe the Godfather Part II is superior....there is just something about Marlon Brando as Don Vito...
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10:06AM on 02/23/2012
Fave Godfather line: "And a Man in my position, can't be made to look RIDICULOUS"

Fave Godfather II line: "Ya see thats why they call him Superman." (four years later, Mario Puzo would script the Richard Donner Superman movie.)
Fave Godfather line: "And a Man in my position, can't be made to look RIDICULOUS"

Fave Godfather II line: "Ya see thats why they call him Superman." (four years later, Mario Puzo would script the Richard Donner Superman movie.)
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10:03AM on 02/23/2012
I'm with letting the tally speak for itself. I've seen "The Godfather" more times than I can count. I've seen "The Godfather Part II" twice. Part of this has to do with that I only own the first movie. I hold these two in equal estimation. I almost believe you cannot compare the two Vitos though, they are so different, one a very old man, the other a very young man. The intervening years are what made him who he became, an almost godlike figure. And I personally believe the first one has a
I'm with letting the tally speak for itself. I've seen "The Godfather" more times than I can count. I've seen "The Godfather Part II" twice. Part of this has to do with that I only own the first movie. I hold these two in equal estimation. I almost believe you cannot compare the two Vitos though, they are so different, one a very old man, the other a very young man. The intervening years are what made him who he became, an almost godlike figure. And I personally believe the first one has a slight edge on the quotes.
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10:03AM on 02/23/2012
I like Godfathe II better. But the points used to compare the films are shit. Kills and deleted scenes ? Really ?
I like Godfathe II better. But the points used to compare the films are shit. Kills and deleted scenes ? Really ?
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10:01AM on 02/23/2012
Godfather II is superior. The story is epic in scale & scope (From Sicily to little Italy, Vegas to Cuba, New York to Washington) yet it tells this very intimate story of the decades-long rise and fall of the Corleone family. The fleshing out of the Michael-Fredo relationship is smart & heartbreakingly tragic. Hyman Roth is a far superior villain than Solozzo or Barzini, and every sequence involving Vito is pure cinematic gold.
Godfather II is superior. The story is epic in scale & scope (From Sicily to little Italy, Vegas to Cuba, New York to Washington) yet it tells this very intimate story of the decades-long rise and fall of the Corleone family. The fleshing out of the Michael-Fredo relationship is smart & heartbreakingly tragic. Hyman Roth is a far superior villain than Solozzo or Barzini, and every sequence involving Vito is pure cinematic gold.
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9:30AM on 02/23/2012

Wrong.

Godfather I is one of the best movies ever. Godfather II is one of the best sequels ever, but not superior to The Godfather. Godfather is more of an artistic piece. Some of the best shadows I've ever seen in a film!
Godfather I is one of the best movies ever. Godfather II is one of the best sequels ever, but not superior to The Godfather. Godfather is more of an artistic piece. Some of the best shadows I've ever seen in a film!
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+1
8:31AM on 02/23/2012
Look at joblo himself gettin in on the mix,love it. anyway the original godfather is better than the second but it is by no means a long shot. i really enjoyed this face off thanks joblo. btw i had fresh whole milk in my cereal this morning
Look at joblo himself gettin in on the mix,love it. anyway the original godfather is better than the second but it is by no means a long shot. i really enjoyed this face off thanks joblo. btw i had fresh whole milk in my cereal this morning
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8:04AM on 02/23/2012
A very difficult choice, but I go with The Godfather by a very slim margin. There are just so many scenes I love in this movie: the opening monologue, the wedding sequence, the assassinations of the police captain and Sollozo, and of course the Baptism scene - which is my favorite scene in all of movies.

(Deniro won Best Supporting Actor for GFII - not Best Actor.)
A very difficult choice, but I go with The Godfather by a very slim margin. There are just so many scenes I love in this movie: the opening monologue, the wedding sequence, the assassinations of the police captain and Sollozo, and of course the Baptism scene - which is my favorite scene in all of movies.

(Deniro won Best Supporting Actor for GFII - not Best Actor.)
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6:54AM on 02/23/2012
I pick The Godfather Part II because it levels up everything from Part I. Not many sequels can do such a thing.
I pick The Godfather Part II because it levels up everything from Part I. Not many sequels can do such a thing.
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5:47AM on 02/23/2012
Very ballsy choosing between both roles of Vito instead of taking the easy route of a "tie." Brando is the quintessential Vito, but De Niro seems to have had a more demanding role and since they both pulled off their respective roles flawlessly, I agree with De Niro as the winner by a slim margin.
Very ballsy choosing between both roles of Vito instead of taking the easy route of a "tie." Brando is the quintessential Vito, but De Niro seems to have had a more demanding role and since they both pulled off their respective roles flawlessly, I agree with De Niro as the winner by a slim margin.
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+2
3:08AM on 02/23/2012

To close to call

This is a hard vote, both Brando and De Niro are playing the same part at different times in their lives. I always loved getting the character's history, and watching him come to power, while we watch his son rise to surpass his father in the same film. Thats tough to beat.. But seeing the Methodical Brando GF is just magic... and the final scenes coming together having Michael become the Godfather? I can't, and won't choose.

on a side note: De Niro vs Brando shouldn't even be a category
This is a hard vote, both Brando and De Niro are playing the same part at different times in their lives. I always loved getting the character's history, and watching him come to power, while we watch his son rise to surpass his father in the same film. Thats tough to beat.. But seeing the Methodical Brando GF is just magic... and the final scenes coming together having Michael become the Godfather? I can't, and won't choose.

on a side note: De Niro vs Brando shouldn't even be a category they both play Vito brilliantly and its one and the same. Both Fantastic performances.
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2:45AM on 02/23/2012

I Don't Get It...

We're judging 2 of the greatest films of all time and one of the criteria is Deleted Scenes??? I also agree with a fellow poster that this goes off the rails when DeNiro is picked over Brando. And please, proofread these Face-Offs
We're judging 2 of the greatest films of all time and one of the criteria is Deleted Scenes??? I also agree with a fellow poster that this goes off the rails when DeNiro is picked over Brando. And please, proofread these Face-Offs
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5:45AM on 02/23/2012
I'm not trying to pick fights or be an asshole. But, as opposed to the 10 Spots, these feel more definitive when it comes to JoBlo.com's opinion. And they're not written like opinion pieces. When it comes to the movies, I can't see how The Godfather Part II can be called a better film than The Godfather. That's just me though. Once again, didn't mean to ruffle feathers -- I just feel these columns aren't up to snuff with the rest of the site's great writing.
I'm not trying to pick fights or be an asshole. But, as opposed to the 10 Spots, these feel more definitive when it comes to JoBlo.com's opinion. And they're not written like opinion pieces. When it comes to the movies, I can't see how The Godfather Part II can be called a better film than The Godfather. That's just me though. Once again, didn't mean to ruffle feathers -- I just feel these columns aren't up to snuff with the rest of the site's great writing.
3:00AM on 02/23/2012
Sigh. Dude, WHICH FILM DO YOU PREFER? Is that so hard to do?

Geez Louise...did everyone wake up with piss in their cereal this morning or what? If you don't like the DELETED SCENES category, fine. Choose your own. This is a FUN SITE, man...what's with all the bitching and moaning today, wow.

So far, nobody has put forth ONE ARGUMENT for one movie over the other. All you guys are doing is complaining about this or that. Have you ever had a conversation with a friend about ONE MOVIE versus
Sigh. Dude, WHICH FILM DO YOU PREFER? Is that so hard to do?

Geez Louise...did everyone wake up with piss in their cereal this morning or what? If you don't like the DELETED SCENES category, fine. Choose your own. This is a FUN SITE, man...what's with all the bitching and moaning today, wow.

So far, nobody has put forth ONE ARGUMENT for one movie over the other. All you guys are doing is complaining about this or that. Have you ever had a conversation with a friend about ONE MOVIE versus ANOTHER MOVIE? That's the spirit!

Now stop bitching about a couple of spelling mistakes and have some fun with these things, man. I can't believe I need to point these things out...
2:28AM on 02/23/2012
I call BS on the quotes part. Offer you can't refuse is one of the most requoted film lines ever. The most memorable quote from part 2 was stolen from Sun Tzu.
I call BS on the quotes part. Offer you can't refuse is one of the most requoted film lines ever. The most memorable quote from part 2 was stolen from Sun Tzu.
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2:24AM on 02/23/2012

This gets a thumbs down for ONE reason.......

It's because you chose Deniro over Brando. Deniro was great, but in no way was he better than Brando. I like part II more, but Brando was better. The ending to II was great as well.
P.S.
Godfather III doesn't exist. I bought the trilogy, but threw part III away.
It's because you chose Deniro over Brando. Deniro was great, but in no way was he better than Brando. I like part II more, but Brando was better. The ending to II was great as well.
P.S.
Godfather III doesn't exist. I bought the trilogy, but threw part III away.
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1:23PM on 02/23/2012
@Joblo: I'm fine with the column. I didn't bad mouth the writer or say this column was stupid, because it's not. I was just talking about Vito vs. Vito.
@Joblo: I'm fine with the column. I didn't bad mouth the writer or say this column was stupid, because it's not. I was just talking about Vito vs. Vito.
2:55AM on 02/23/2012
@DarkElfa: We're trying to make it "fun", man. If we had a poll for everything, it would be boring. We're trying to stir debate, conversation, arguments...you know, like most movie fans have with their friends. I could spend HOURS debating these films with other movie fans, but you'd prefer clicking on a radio button to choose one over the other, without any interaction with anyone? Wow. To each his own, I guess.
@DarkElfa: We're trying to make it "fun", man. If we had a poll for everything, it would be boring. We're trying to stir debate, conversation, arguments...you know, like most movie fans have with their friends. I could spend HOURS debating these films with other movie fans, but you'd prefer clicking on a radio button to choose one over the other, without any interaction with anyone? Wow. To each his own, I guess.
2:46AM on 02/23/2012
Well, why not add an actual poll set up. That way we can actually see what the readership thinks is the best in comparison in real time.
Well, why not add an actual poll set up. That way we can actually see what the readership thinks is the best in comparison in real time.
2:31AM on 02/23/2012
Part of the "fun" of these columns is that our readers also get to make their CHOICES and then we see who YOU choose next week. I hope you all understand that this section isn't here simply to criticize the picks of the writer. He's giving his opinion on which film he prefers, now you guys/girls can present your cases here.
Part of the "fun" of these columns is that our readers also get to make their CHOICES and then we see who YOU choose next week. I hope you all understand that this section isn't here simply to criticize the picks of the writer. He's giving his opinion on which film he prefers, now you guys/girls can present your cases here.
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