Al Pacino Saved ‘The Godfather’ By Not Making Corleone a Cliched Gangster

by Jeremy Spirogis
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in

It may appear exhausting to imagine The Godfather tried exhausting to battle off gangster clichés when it appeared to set a lot of the ones that adopted in films and TV. Well, the film itself can by no means take credit score since a big a part of it goes to its star actor: Al Pacino.

Most stories say Pacino labored exhausting to make sure that his function of Michael Corleone would set a brand new normal for films about mafia figures. No one ought to overlook gangster films did exist earlier than The Godfather, regardless of so many pondering latter almost invented the style.

Most gangster films prior had the characters being depicted as over-the-top, one thing Pacino may see wanted revision in a brand new period of movie.

Were gangsters portrayed as caricatures earlier than ‘The Godfather’?

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Film buffs have to return actually 90 years to see the beginnings of gangster films from the massive display screen. Some of the earliest had legendary actors like Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, and James Cagney slicing their enamel in gritty crime dramas. Cagney and Robinson, specifically, ultimately moved on to lighter varieties of roles, if setting a decades-long normal for film gangsters.

They typically needed to painting these characters with broad gestures, principally as a result of it was obligatory for films in these days. Since talkies have been a brand new medium, making gangsters appear to be flamboyant villains bought extra tickets from audiences searching for leisure through the Great Depression.

Besides, with varied tales of actual gangsters being become close to folklore, everybody was curious to see them depicted in films. In some instances, it was proper on the cash.

In different instances, tales of the mafia have been become caricatures. Reality was seemingly a distinct story in how sedate a few of America’s most infamous gangsters have been in non-public.

What did Al Pacino do together with his Michael Corleone character?

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As celebrated as Pacino’s efficiency as Michael Corleone is today, his method was an all-new one for the early 1970s. At the time when The Godfather was filming, most gangster portrayals had been maintained in stone for the reason that ’30s.

Pacino reportedly needed to keep away from this path. He needed to make Michael extra understated, one thing Paramount was towards. They needed one other clichéd gangster depiction, not together with worrying about Pacino being too bodily quick.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather'
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ | CBS by way of Getty Images

According to Pacino himself in a Washington Post interview again in 2016, Paramount virtually fired him for eager to act his personal method. Not till seeing his efficiency afterward did they understand they have been incorrect. Said Pacino: “I was trying to create a character who you don’t know where you’re at with him. I knew it was a tough part to pull off. Michael’s so insular, so private.”

Having the movie underway in 1971-72 was all because of a confluence of occasions going down in movie then. Things have been altering, and audiences have been extra inquisitive about seeing characters being depicted as actual fairly than exaggerated.

Did Al Pacino’s efficiency set the bar for all future mafia films?

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One can solely see with their very own eyes how a lot The Godfather films set the bar for the way forward for films about gangsters post-early ’70s. One of the best examples of an understated mafia determine for tv was Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). While he had his violent moments, majority of his scenes have been within the Michael Corleone mould of getting to look inward to know his ideas.

Interestingly sufficient, The Godfather didn’t affect everybody. Martin Scorsese had his personal model of gangster portrayal that also adhered to the loopy facet at occasions, together with extra violent outbursts. Only in his current The Irishman did he go extra into Michael Corleone mould.

Otherwise, Al Pacino set a serious performing normal nonetheless celebrated today. Whether extra mafia films are made is one other factor in a time when there is likely to be nothing left to say (quietly).

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