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Vlad's Incomplete yet Essential List of OC movies that will get longer and longer!!!! PART I.
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Thread: Vlad's Incomplete yet Essential List of OC movies that will get longer and longer!!!! PART I.

  1. #1
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Vlad's Incomplete yet Essential List of OC movies that will get longer and longer!!!! PART I.

    Hi all,

    I thought it would be fun to make a post about some of the best movies ever made about organized crime. It's the holidays so I will get back to the serious historical stuff on Sunday. But, in a sense, the movies themselves are highly educational and many are quite accurate. This list will grow and I hope otheers will contribute. The ground rules are simple: the movie has to have organized crime as an important theme. So movies about John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde don't count. :p I am lazy so this is part one of the thread

    Okay, these are not necessarily in order of personal preference unless I comment in my little synopses.

    The Godfather (yep, you KNEW this was coming): Based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Mario Puzo, it's really a miracle that this movie, subsequently named the greatest American movie ever made by AFI and other major sources, was ever made. It was originally going to be a made for TV movie. Thank heaven that didn't happen. The Godfather is an interesting movie for a number of reasons but I will focus on two. First, it is both a movie about cosa nostra and it is a movie about family. In fact the movie really navigates the tension and cohesion between the borgata (crime family) and one's blood family. For those who have been hiding under a rock or were born this morning, The Godfather tells the story of the fall and rise of Vito and Michael Corleone respectively. The movie is set in the time period encompassing the mid 1940s into the mid 1950s. The Godfather concerns itself with the highest echelon of the Mafia in America and in a sense, it portrays the most deadly aspect of the Mafia in its still yet to be rivalled penchant for attaining power unimagined not only by other OC groups, but even by immigrant standards. The characters in The Godfather are those that could be most closely compared to the Roman Caesars; like the Caesars, the highest echelon of the Mafia decides a person's fate with merely a word. The film itself is a masterpiece with exquisite cinematography and masteful acting, directing, and a haunting and unforgettable musical score.

    Some trivia: Paramount wanted Robert Redford to play the part of Michael. Their argument was that Redford was a known actor and he would appeal to women. Coppola, while acknowledging this and the fact that indeed there are many blond haired Italians, wanted to capture more of the "Sicilian" look.

    Danny Thomas wanted the part of Vito Corleone so badly he threatened to BUY Paramount Pictures just so he could play the role!

    Robert DiNero was briefly considered for the role of Michael. He would appear in the sequel as a young Vito.

    Oranges = death! The next time you watch The Godfather, notice that oranges are harbingers of doom. Here are a couple of examples (and BTW, the oranges of death hold true for all three Godfather movies):

    At Connie and Carlo's wedding, Tessio tosses an orange up in the air and catches it. He later betrays Michael and is whacked.
    Vito buys a couple of oranges right before he is shot and when he falls over from the assassination attempt, he knocks over a bushel of oranges.
    When Virgil Solozzo enters Vito's office for a "sit down" oranges are clearly visible in Vito's office. Solozzo is later whacked by Michael.
    At the big sit down with Barzini and Tattaglia, bowls of oranges are placed in front of each. Both are killed later on the orders of Michael when he has the heads of all the families whacked.

    There are many more like these throughout all three movies. See how many you can find.

    The Godfather Part II: This movie was the first in Hollywood history to be a true sequel AND it is the ONLY sequel ever to win best picture after its parent film won best picture. The Godfather Part II weaves the story of Michael's deadly rise to power as well as beautiful flashback sequences of Vito's rise to power. Part II is also a wonderful look into a few Sicilian customs as well as touching on the American Mafia's relationship to the Sicilian Mafia. Part II is also a wonderful peak back into early 20th century America and the conditions under which immigrants lived. This movie also features the Kefauver Organized Crime Congressional Hearings. Until his death, FBI chief and women's undergarment fancier J. Edgar Hoover denied that organized crime even existed. Kefauver however had a much more accurate view of how things were. Fortunately for the mob, McCarthy's anti-Communist witch hunt hearings overshadowed Kefauver and no convictions were made from the Kefauver hearings.

    One little trivia fact that is really cool: Al Pacino's family came from - you guessed it: Corleone, Sicily! (By the time the movies were in production, the town of Corleone was too industrialized to reflect an early 20th century Sicilian mountain town. The locations in Sicily were Savoca and Forza d'Agro.

    Gangs of New York: Set during the time of the American Civil War, this epic film depicts the rise of the Irish mobs versus the "Natives" (English,Welsh, Scotch-Irish). Ironically, what is arguably the definitive story of the Irish in America was shot in ..... (wait for it) ...... Rome, Italy!! This movie is also important as it provides an in depth look at a country toen apart and its greatest city seething from a cauldron of chaos. Daniel Day-Lewis dominates the film but fine performances are turned in by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Gleeson, Cameron Diaz, and Liam Neeson. This movie should have won best picture in 2002. Instead it lost out to the insipid musical "Chicago." I never want to hear Richard Gere sing again, UGHHHHH!!

    See you soon for part II in which we will see two more Irish mob movies and two from my paesani!! (Actually, since I am part Irish, I suppose all four are from countrymen!!)

  2. #2
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Departed is another great organised crome film! Literally gripping!

  3. #3
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLR View Post
    Departed is another great organised crome film! Literally gripping!
    You sir are a mindreader. The Departed is one of the Irish mob movies I was going to write about in the next post! Simply a GREAT movie about the Irish mob - known sometimes as "The Westies." Nicholson's perfromance was amazing! I was wondering JLR since you have some interest in this thread if every once in a while I could PM you with some questions/observations about OC activities in the UK? I do not know as much about OC in the UK apart from a little research I have done.

    Cheers JLR!

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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VladVoivode View Post
    You sir are a mindreader. The Departed is one of the Irish mob movies I was going to write about in the next post! Simply a GREAT movie about the Irish mob - known sometimes as "The Westies." Nicholson's perfromance was amazing! I was wondering JLR since you have some interest in this thread if every once in a while I could PM you with some questions/observations about OC activities in the UK? I do not know as much about OC in the UK apart from a little research I have done.

    Cheers JLR!
    I believe the Westies were only the Irish-American gang based in Hell's Kitchen on Manhattan's West Side. I don't believe "Westies" refers at all to the Irish mob in Boston.

    Other gangster movies to consider, especially if one works one's way forward chronologically, would be the seminal triumvirate of "Little Caesar" (1930), "The Public Enemy" (1931) and "Scarface" (1932).

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    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VladVoivode View Post
    You sir are a mindreader. The Departed is one of the Irish mob movies I was going to write about in the next post! Simply a GREAT movie about the Irish mob - known sometimes as "The Westies." Nicholson's perfromance was amazing! I was wondering JLR since you have some interest in this thread if every once in a while I could PM you with some questions/observations about OC activities in the UK? I do not know as much about OC in the UK apart from a little research I have done.

    Cheers JLR!
    I don't claim to be an expert on it but I will help all I can
    JLR

  6. #6
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Miller's Crossing: One of the best mob movies you may never have seen. This movie was directed by the Coen brothers who are known for such classics as Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou (based loosely on The Odysee by Homer), and No Country for Old Men. The movie is set in the Prohibition Era and the cast is stellar with Gabriel Byrne, the great Albert Finney, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, and Marcia Gay Harden. Byrne plays Tom Reegan, an Irish gangster caught in the middle of the struggle for power between Irish and Italian gangsters. The movie is darkly humorous at times as well as featuring some rather violent scenes. The soundtrack by Carter Burwell is simply beautiful. This is a movie that you really shouldn't miss.

    A Bronx Tale: Set in The Bronx during the 1960s, this film marked Robert DiNero's directorial debut. The film is based upon the play of the same name written by actor Chaz Palmintieri who co-stars as local Mafia boss "Sonny." The story is amn amazing one on a number of levels and I want to take a little more space with this one. On one level, the story is about Lorenzo Ainello's (DiNero) son Calogero (played by actor Lilo Brancato - more on him in a bit). The film follows Calogero as he grows up, learning from two "fathers" and is at times funny as well as heartbreaking. The film is set against the growing racial tensions of the late 1960s and deals with the themes of prejudice, honesty, love, family, and neighborhood. It's a coming of age film set simultaneously in two worlds: that of the honest bus driver Lorenzo and the mob boss Sonny. Central to the film is the idea of the tragedy of wasted talent. Both Lorenzo and Sonny try to teach Calogero this lesson. Sonny in fact does not want Calogero to follow in his footsteps. It is one of those films where the mafia boss is a guy you actually like. On a deeper level, the film is an examination of Machiavelli's classic work The Prince. The centra question of the book is whether it is better to be loved than to be feared. The question is ultimately answered, rather sadly but satisfactorily. The story portrays an Italian-American neighborhood of the time quite accurately.

    The music is period specific and fits the movie well including an ironic use of The Beatles classic Come Together during a fight between a biker gang and Sonny's crew. The movie's opening song On the Streets of the Bronx is hauntingly beautiful.

    Now to Brancato. He was discovered by DiNero who wanted the teenage actors to be from the actual neighborhoods the characters woud have inhabited. Brancato proved to be a natural and went on to play in The Sopranos. DiNero remarked that Brancato used to crack up every one on the set with his perfect impersonations of Al Pacino. But in a bizarre ironic twist, Brancato himself never learned the lesson of wasted talent. Brancato became involved with a low level connected drug dealer associated with the Gambino family. He was arrested as an accomplice in the murder of a New York City police officer in 2005. While he was acquitted of that charge, he was found guilty of attempted burglary and was sentenced to 10 years. He is eligible for for parole in 2014. Wasted talent. That said, the movie is worth watching even for Brancato's performance which is stellar. What a pity he didn't learn! DiNero was said to be very saddened and angry at the turn Brancato's life took.

    The Departed: Loosely based upon Irish mobster Whitey Bulger, this film was Martin Scorsese's first Oscar. The movie will grab you like an enforcer and will not let you go. The line between the bad guys and the good is tenuous and Jack Nicholson's character, ironically named Frank Costello who was an ITALIAN mobster of the 1940s born Francesco Castiglia, is powerful. Nicholson piulled out all of the stops on this one and The Departed may well be considered the Irish mob version of The Godfather.

    The late 1970s and early 1980s were a tough time for the American Mafia and three movies depict those simultaneous events and in addition are must see mob movies. Goodfellas, Casino, and Donnie Brasco all take place within the same time period. Goodfellas is perhaps as well known as The Godfather. This movie as well as Casino and Donnie Brasco focused more on the blue collar made guys in the mob as opposed to the caesars portrayed in The Godfather movies. Goodfellas follows the career of connected guy Henry Hill - who just died this past summer (2012). Hill was connected to the Lucchese crime family and along with Jimmy The Gent Burke (Jimmy Conway in the movie) was behind the biggest mafia heist in history with the raid on Lufthansa in which millions of dollars were stolen at JFK Airport. While Henry and Jimmy were earning for the Luchese family, Donnie Brasco was the code name for undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone who was undercover in the Bonanno crime family for six years. The movie's cast is excellent with Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, and Bruno Kirby turning in excellent performances. While the movie did have actual wiseguys as unnamed consultants for the film - as well as agent Pistone himself - there are a few inaccuracies. The boss who is whacked in the movie is actually Big Paul Castellano who was the capo of the Gambino crime family. It's remarked that Madsen's character "Sonny Black" was in on the hit. He was subsequently made a skipper. However, this would be highly unusual for a member of one crime family to be involved in the murder of a capo. A few years prior to Castellano's murder, the Bonnano family was severely weakened in a war in which it tried to gain power and thus upsetting The Commission. It could be that Sonny Black (real name Dominic Napolitano who was later murdered for bringing Donnie into the family) might have played a minor role, but, it was John Gotti who masterminded the hit on the rather maligned Castellano. Also, Pacino's character Lefty Ruggiero was NOT a shabby dresser and he was not the poor soldier scrabbling for a buck. Also, the movie implies that Lefty was whacked, but, on his way to the sit down, the FBI arrested Ruggiero and saved his life.
    While these things were going on in New York, Casino is the story of the Midwestern families - chiefly The Outfit in Chicago as well as bosses from Kansas City and Detroit - and the ending of the mob's control of Las Vegas. All three movies are based upon actual events and even with the inaccuracies of Donnie Brasco, all three movies are worth watching and it's fun to watch each movie knowing that the other movies portray events in the same time period.

    Until next time, remember, it's not personal, it's business.

    Vlad
    Last edited by VladVoivode; 12-31-2012 at 06:45 AM.

  7. #7
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moh View Post
    I believe the Westies were only the Irish-American gang based in Hell's Kitchen on Manhattan's West Side. I don't believe "Westies" refers at all to the Irish mob in Boston.

    Other gangster movies to consider, especially if one works one's way forward chronologically, would be the seminal triumvirate of "Little Caesar" (1930), "The Public Enemy" (1931) and "Scarface" (1932).
    You are right Moh. My wording was ill chosen. I meant to write that one part of the Irish mob was known as The Westies. Thanks for fixing the error!

  8. #8
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    The Godfather Part III: This is a tough one to consider because Coppola had caught lightning in a bottle twice with the first two installments of the saga of the Corleone family and specifically Michael. If you look at the movie as a separate entity, i.e, unrelated to the first two Godfather movies, it is quite good with some flashes of greatness. Pacino's performance in this film is practically Shakespearian. The most powerful moments in the movie occur when Michael stands in the window and and in anger says "Just when I think I am out, they pull me back in!" The second moment happens when Michael is sitting alone next to the casket of long time Corleone Sicilian capo Don Tommasino. Michael asks the dead don why he was so loved when Michael was so feared. Pacino's confession to the cardinal is also a defining moment, albeit short lived, for the character of Michael.

    However, the movie cannot approach the greatness of the first two films. Due to contractual problems, Robert Duvall did not reprise his role as Tom Hagen, the family's consigliere and attorney. George Hamilton was cast as the new attorney and turns in a rather lackluster performance especially when compared to the work of Andy Garcia and Talia Shire. In addition, Coppola had always wanted to work with Wynona Ryder and had wanted to cast her as Mary Corleone, Michael's daughter. Ryder had just completed work on another project and had told Coppola she needed time to rest and so turned the role down. She would later appear as Mina Murray in Coppola's version of Dracula. So, in the spirit of keeping it in the family, Coppola cast his own daughter Sophia in the role. Her performance was universally panned by critics and the panning was justified. Fortunately for Sophia, she has become one of Hollywood's most respected directors.

    The movie is a fascinating look at a possible conspiracy that happened in 1978, namely, the untimely death of Pope John Paul I. There is strong evidence that His Holiness was murdered by bankers associated with the Vatican Bank which John Paul I had vowed to investigate and clean up. The Pope had no prior history of any heart condition yet a little more than 35 days after his elevation to the Papacy, he died of what was determined as cardiac arrest. At the time, the Vatican Bank was coming under heavy scrutiny. Pope Paul VI had not concerned himself too much with the affairs of the bank but John Paul I had different ideas.

    In addition, the movie presents a bridge between the American and Sicilian Mafias and one wonders whether the Mafia or Italian politics are more dangerous.

    A few interesting facts about this movie:

    This is Sophia Coppola's second appearance in a Godfather film. Her first appearance was as Connie and Carlo's SON at the baptism scene that closes the first Godfather film.

    Martin Scorsese's mother makes a cameo appearance in Godfather III

    Andy Garcia loved the leather jacket he wore so much in Godfather III that he wanted to buy it. Paramount refused.

    Raff Vallone, who played the cardinal - and eventually John Paul I, was considered for the role of Vito in the first Godfather movie.

    The opera, La Cavaliera Rusticana mirrors the story of Michael and Vito.


    There have been rumors through the years that there would be a Godfather Part IV. Coppola and Puzo were supposedly in negotiations to begin work on the film when Puzo died. Other rumors have surfaced that Part IV would concentrate on Vincent's role as capo of the family and the destruction of the Corleone family. Yet another rumor was that Part IV would be based upon novels written by Mark Winegarder. Obviously, none of these rumors are true as of this writing and Coppola had stated in an interview shortly after the release of Part III that the film was made partly for financial reasons. Coppola has not had a major hit since Dracula, so who knows? Maybe his bank account will dictate a fourth movie? If so, I hope he can catch lightning a third time.

    Remember, it's not personal. It's business.

    Best,
    Vlad
    Last edited by VladVoivode; 12-31-2012 at 07:15 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Frequent Poster elsie's Avatar
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    Extremely interesting.

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