Mario Puzo, ‘Godfather of Italian-American film’

Posted in books, movies by Diane on August 12, 2009

godfatherbookForty years after Mario Puzo introduced the world to the Corleone family, “The Godfather” continues to sell books, its literary standing dubious but its cultural impact undeniable. Even before Francis Ford Coppola turned the pulpy novel into two Oscar winners, it was a best-seller, Allen Barra notes in the WSJ. Gay Talese, a friend of Puzo, attributes the book’s power to its depiction of Italian-American families. Yet, many Italian-Americans were put off by the book, including Coppola. My former boss, Peter Bart, likes to the story about how he talked the director into making the film when he was a Paramount production exec; Coppola was dead set against it. Those that pick up the book after seeing his operatic original and sequel will likely be disappointed at its lurid prose. However, Barra argues that Puzo deserves a suspended sentence for his literary crimes due to his contributions to film. “If Puzo wasn’t a genius, he at least found a way to inspire genius,” Barra writes. Read it


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  1. Jerry said, on August 13, 2009 at 7:45 am

    You still don’t get it. I hope not on purpose. The Godfather was a story about honor. Something not open to literary criticism today. Violate family honor and face death. Pimps, degenerates, crooked cops, business swindlers, drug dealers. What we would all like to do with Mr. Madoff but are held back by courts of law. Pauline Kael said Taxi Driver was proto-Fascist because Travis Bickle took law into his own hands. It sent chills down her spine. Godfather was written in that vein—to give justice where none exists—and to send chills down spines like Ms. Kael. Tell me you didn’t get pumped when Michael shot that Turk in the forehead and blood spattered all over the restaurant. The crooked cop’s reward came next–justice for trying to kill his father. Then the beautiful scene in Sicily where Michael first met Apollonia in the fragrant fields of lemons. The Thunderbolt. “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.” Her desirability elevated because she was 16 and a virgin. “Those niggers in Harlem driving those big Cadillac’s paying off ten cents on the dollar.” What a line. How did that ever get past the censors? The Godfather may not be good literary material but it’s the reality that most people want to see every day.

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