On The Godfather, Italian-Americans, and the Mafia

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On The Godfather, Italian-Americans, and the Mafia

The Godfather, released in 1972 by Paramount Pictures, set a course for the comeback of the gangster genre after its decline in the 1960’s. With its main characters as Sicilian-Americans, Hollywood continued to use them to portray criminals, particularly members of the mafia. The film is set in New York City between 1945 and 1955, and is centered around the fictional Corleone crime family.

With The Godfather, Hollywood managed to bring light to Italian-American culture. The trilogy as a whole was a breakthrough for such actors as Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and Robert De Niro, and the first entry revamped the failing career of Marlon Brando. Although director Francis Ford Coppola thought Mario Puzo’s Godfather novel was poorly written, it was his intention, as an Italian American himself, to create the film about an Italian-American crime family and have the audience identify with them.

The Godfather franchise follows the Corleone family, particularly Michael Corleone and his rise to the patriarch of the family business. Initially, Michael had no interest in the business, but as his father—Vito Corleone, then-current Don of the family—was badly wounded following an assassination attempt by a rivaling mob, he felt the need to protect his father and represent his family. Though he took refuge in Sicily as the five most powerful of New York’s crime families—of which the Corleones were part—fought amongst each other, he became fully involved in the business upon his return to the U.S., planning with his father to avenge the death of his brother Sonny.

The Corleone family didn’t come from wealth and privilege. They started with nothing, and rose to prominence as the most powerful...

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... may seem like they were cold-blooded murderers, but they are just one of many families that still believe that blood is thicker than water, even though crime does pay in corporate America.

Works Cited

Edwards, Magenta Kate. "How are Family Values Represented in The Godfather?" the-news.co. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.

The Godfather Part II. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Prod. Francis Ford Coppola, Gray Frederickson, and Fred Groos. 1974. Paramount Pictures, 2008. DVD.

The Godfather Part III. Dir. and Prod. Francis Ford Coppola. 1990. Paramount Pictures, 2008. DVD.

The Godfather. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Prod. Albert S. Ruddy. 1972. Paramount Pictures, 2008. DVD.

Santopietro, Tom. The Godfather Effect. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2012. Print.

Swann, Travis. "The Godfather: Cultural Value." Ecorsair. Avenue, 2 May 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

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