A brilliant examination of our forty year obsession with the classic film trilogy—and a personal reflection on what it means to be Italian-American
Forty years and one billion dollars in gross box office receipts after the initial release of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola's masterful trilogy continues to fascinate viewers old and new. The Godfather Effect skillfully analyzes the reasons behind this ongoing global phenomenon. Packed with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from all three Godfather films, Tom Santopietro explores the historical origins of the Mob and why they thrived in America, how Italian-Americans are portrayed in the media, and how a saga of murderous gangsters captivated audiences around the globe. Laced with stories about Brando, Pacino, and Sinatra, and interwoven with a funny and poignant memoir about the author's own experiences growing up with an Italian name in an Anglo world of private schools and country clubs, The Godfather Effect is a book for film lovers, observers of American life, and Italians of all nationalities.
Through the lens of the influential Godfather trilogy, Santopietro (Sinatra in Hollywood) examines the impact of the films on American culture and on his own life in this hit-and-miss exploration of what it means to be Italian. While personal reflections often make film studies more nuanced, Santopietro shifts awkwardly between the history of the first Godfather film from Coppola s battles with Paramount to his wooing of the notoriously difficult Marlon Brando and his own family s immigrant saga, beginning with his grandparents. The connection Santopietro feels to the films is poignantly depicted, as are the correlations he draws visually between Corleone family events and those from his childhood, particularly Sunday dinners with the extended family, and young Don Vito s visions of Little Italy in the early 20th century and the grocery store owned by Santopietro s grandparents. The larger cultural ideas he tries to weave together the nature of Italian-ness and the impact of the trilogy on the gangster film (and later television) genre aren t always cohesive, owing in large part to a lack of an overarching organizational structure. The history of the films production can t help being fascinating, as contentious stories from Hollywood always are, from casting battles (Brando was at the bottom of the studio s list) to the reasons for Godfather III s critical panning. But readers looking for an integration of the personal and the cinematic as seamless as Coppola s undeniable masterpiece may be disappointed.