In The Godfather, part II, the former Hyman Roth is played by “The Master of the Method”. Lee Strasberg founded the Actors Studio, teaching actors as diverse as John Garfield, Anne Bancroft, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Fonda. Sidney Lumet, who directed Serpico and dog afternoon, was a member of the inaugural class of the Actors Studio in New York. Of Godfatherr lance alone, Roth taught Eli Wallach, Pacino and De Niro, who were so entangled in the method, that he obtained a taxi license and worked 12-hour shifts while researching his role in Taxi driver.
Brando rewrote the acting code in the 1950s, scratching and mumbling his way to stardom like only a method student could. The new wave of Hollywood was eager to follow. Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep and Harvey Keitel have become A-list regulars, living up to the standards of the method. They took their dedication to emotional realism as seriously as the crowd takes its code of omerta.
The independent film community of the late 1960s and early 1970s was as bold and brazen as any gang of The Godfather epic. Hollywood may have been under the “dark hand” of a greedy debt collector like Don Fanucci (Gastone Moschin), but the street fight in the cinematic revolution began with independent realists like John Cassavetes and Terrence Malick, who broke convention with a no prisoners attitude.
Melvin Van Peebles advanced the independent film arts with sexually charged guerrilla warfare. His 1971 without budget, self-produced and empowering Baadassss song by Sweet Sweetbackreleased months before Tree, inadvertently created the Blaxploitation cinema. Coinciding with the erosion of the production code, even pornographic films have enjoyed mainstream popularity, with films like Deep Throat and Debbie does Dallas projected on the same screens where dirty harry and Issuance were shown.
The forward movement in The Godfather, part II, captures Michael’s activities between 1958 and 1959. The Corleone family finalizes their move west and joins forces with more powerful bedfellows, like Nevada Senator Pat Geary (GD Spradlin). Roth publicly supports Michael’s move to acting, but is ultimately killed by Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui), for treason. The Corleone family consolidates its power and prospers. Coppola, who made the sparse and suspenseful The conversation between the two Godfather films, achieved in Hollywood what the Corleones found in America. He was able to make the movies he wanted to make whether it was hit or miss, hit to hit and closing the decade with the masterful Apocalypse now!. It was time to meet the Pope.
The Godfather, part II
Just when he thought he was out, Coppola was brought back for The Godfather, Part III. The first of the films that had no help from the source material, Puzo’s novel. Michael may lose his soul in the saga’s epilogue, his family may be shattered in ways he will never internalize, but he is still his guide and protector. In this chapter, Michael is in the final phase of his criminal career, about to take the final leap towards legitimacy, with what appears to be the most legitimate of all institutions in the world, the Holy Roman Church. But the Vatican is not a conductor. Patriarch Corleone not only has to give until it hurts, he has to confess his sins as he does.