Friday, May 18, 2012

"The Godfather" -- an offer they COULD refuse today

Forty years ago today, "The Godfather" was the most talked-about movie in America. People were quoting it -- "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse" -- buzzing about the Mafia, going to see it over and over, even (briefly) letting it influence men's fashions. (Love those fedoras.)

I've been watching the first two parts of the saga while plodding along on my treadmill this week, and three things have occurred to me.

First, nobody these days would release a grand-scale, thoughtful, complex drama like "The Godfather" in spring, as Paramount did in 1972. They'd hold it at least until October, figuring that Oscar voters have the memories of fruit flies. But there was a time, o my children, when memorable films came out all year round.

Second, the infantile minds in focus groups today would start the negative buzz after the first test screening: too slow, too bloody, nobody to root for, no romance, not enough laughs to lighten the story. And what's up with Marlon Brando's mumbling? Did he have cotton in his mouth or something?

Third, no studio now would fund it, buy it or distribute it widely, with confidence -- unless, perhaps, it had been made so cheaply that nobody could lose much money on the gamble. But I'd bet my life insurance that not a single studio head would greenlight it today.

Four decades ago, studios still tried to think big, spend prudently and appeal to a wide range of moviegoers. Today, they spend big, barely think at all and consider folks over 35 to be invisible or unreachable. But that's why the Lord gave us DVD players....


Anonymous said...

Amen, Larry. Godfather=best movie of all time.

tarhoosier said...

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

Jenn said...

Winter's Bone.

Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Can't tell if you're serious or not with the "cotton in his mouth" comment, but for the young'uns reading this, yes that is exactly what Brando did to get that jowly look and mumbley diction.