THE FORUMS

May 23rd, 2017
The Godfather: Michael & Fredo Corleone
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Trimalchio

Junior Member

Join Date: 07/12/2008 | Posts: 19

Some "Alpha Male" vs. "Wussie" studies here.

I'm sure you are all familiar with Coppola's "Godfather"-Trilogy. Besides being great movies, these can teach you some lessons about life in many respects.

Watching it again, I found it interesting how Fredo was portrayed by John Cazale in contrast to his brothers James Caan and Al Pacino. He suffers from an inferiority complex which grounds in his lack of masculine qualities. He has no control over himself, he is physically weak, submissive in front of strong-willed characters, he gets humiliated in public by his wife, gets manipulated very easily, and his fancy show-offs lack congruence. Watch carefully how Cazale masterly conveys this throughout The Godfather Part 1 & 2.

Below I have embedded some collected scenes from Part 2 featuring the two characters I found on Youtube. Especially the first scene is great: Michael/Al Pacino has revealed to Fredo/Cazale before that he knows Fredo was conspiring against him, and probably was even involved an in assassination attempt earlier in the movie. 

Watch the body language of the two. Michael is in complete ice-cold control of himself, calm, dominant, sitting and later standing upright, speaking clearly and collected, while Fredo gives a pathetic wussbag showcase, literally lying in his chair like a whiny, sloppy pancake, self-pitying, regressive, close to being hysterical, without any self-respect (which is reflected in his body posture and voice). The fact that he is in fact the older brother and should have a higher rank in the family hierarchy makes it even worse. 

At the following scene at Mama Corleone's funeral Michael agrees to "forgive" Fredo (he gets him killed just a little later). Note how the weeping Fredo clings to Michael's body when embracing him, like a child to its mother. He has never grown up, while Michael is now the "padrino", the family patriarch, the man, though full of stone-hearted cruelty. 




Here is the final scene of the Godfather II, a flashback to the early 1940s, when the situation is very different. The eldest brother Sonny/James Caan is clearly the dominant AMOG, Fredo the ridiculed weakling, while glimpses of Michael's future ambition and willpower can already be seen:


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#1
Poppa was a Playa

Poppa was a Playa

Senior Member

Join Date: 01/21/2009 | Posts: 172

They were showing the movies on amc all weekend and i watched some and had some these same thoughts about michael, fredo, and sonny.

Some interesting points that stick out to me:
The contrast between Michael's ruthless leadership in which he would have his own brother murdered and Don Corleone's leadership in which he was loved and respected by all and the Corleone family was like the Roman empire.

Also this quote:
Don to Michael as the Don is in his twlight years-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUC3cuWrcbY

This is probably one the most important quotes of the movie as the Don explains some of his decisions in life and what took him to down his particular path. The Don refused to live a life of submission like many immigrants at the turn of the century- toiling for crumbs while your family lives in tenament slums. He refused to "be a fool, dancing on the string held by all those bigshots." The Don did what he had to do to "take care of his family" and he never apologized for the decisions he made because he was living within his beliefs that it was his masculine duty to provide for his family by any means. He embodied patriarchy, positive domiance, and leadership.
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#2

Trimalchio

Junior Member

Join Date: 07/12/2008 | Posts: 19

Poppa was a Playa wrote:

The contrast between Michael's ruthless leadership in which he would have his own brother murdered and Don Corleone's leadership in which he was loved and respected by all and the Corleone family was like the Roman empire.




Indeed, that analogy is referred to in the end of Part II in the conversation between Tom Hagen and Frank Pentangelli. The Old Don would be something like Emperor Augustus, and Michael more like a Nero or Caligula (without the eccentrics).

Noteworthy is also how Vito Corleone as a young man, played by Robert de Niro, takes over the quarter of the city. In the beginning it is ruled by a pompous theatralic mafia guy who uses open violence, threats and shouting to intimidate the Italian immigrant community. After Corleone has killed him, his way of ruling the neighbourhood stands in striking contrast to the old school ways of his predecessor: he slowly wins people over by gaining their respect, "helping" them, gaining their trust, listening to them... he has no need to demonstrate his power in a pompous way, because he is so very sure of it.

Watch this marvellous sequence for example:

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#3
Poppa was a Playa

Poppa was a Playa

Senior Member

Join Date: 01/21/2009 | Posts: 172

I love this movie. It is really a uniquely American story. I love the character who makes it their way. They live by their own code, their own set of values. They are unphased by social constraints yet they ARE social pressure, look how people react to them, in FEAR. Men respect and fear the risk-taker, the man who lives by his own rules and will lead others to that place. Don Corleone embodies that man. And he does it with dignity because he is true to himself and accepts himself as a man. He knows that he is no better than the next man and that no man is better than him.

He does not ask for respect, he takes it.
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#4

Trimalchio

Junior Member

Join Date: 07/12/2008 | Posts: 19

Watching it again, I think Part Three is a great movie and has all the ingredients, great script, top performances, great photography,  but I also think THE magic of the original two parts is missing.

What I found intrigueing (not only from the  "Alpha Male studies" pov) in Part Three is Andy Garcia's next to irresistible character, smooth, sensitive and tough at the same time.  I especially love this scene posted below. Garcia has just laid Bridget Fonda (after having smoothly crushed her shields at a party),  now she is purring all over his hairy chest, when two hired killers enter the apartment. It is awesome how cold blooded he handles the situation. Unfortunately the crucial ending of the scene is missing in this clip: he goes back to the bedroom, Fonda is hysterical, and he just closes the door to f*ck her again. teeth   shades

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