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March 31, 1972 - Image 2

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1972-03-31

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PQge Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Friday, March 31, 1972.

PaeT--H IHIAALYFiay ac_3,17

The Godfather
Michigan
Organized crime is not usually
thought of in terms of a tight-
knit family affair. But this is the
perspective with which The God-
father approaches the ruthless
underworld struggles for power.
The story, adapted frpm the
popular Mario Puzo novel, is
about the fall of the Cosa Nostra
Don, Vito Corleone, and the rise
to power of his son Michael. In
the process of unwinding the
tale, which spans fifteen years
and moves from New York to
Las Vegas, director Francis Cop-
pola has flipped "the gangster
movie' on its ear. To say that
The Godfather is merely better
than the gangland-oriented mov-
ies which precede it, would hard-
ly touch upon its uniqueness.
For it has largely transcended
its genre and moved into the
realm of 'powerful cinematic
achievement. In its elaborate
pains to reproduce the period

paperwork.
At the wedding, all of the
other main characters are in-
troduced. In a shorter movie
with a lesser cast, Brando would
have dominated the movie. But
the other characters are far too
powerfully conceived. Sonny, Don
Corleone's eldest son, is played
by James Caan, who conveys a
perpetual aura of brashness and
energy, even when standing still.
The movie, though, ultimately
revolves around Michael, the
other son, played by Al Paciso,
who has the most difficult role,
in the movie, for he is the only
character who is not static.
When first seen he is a sheltered,
smooth-faced, sensitive young
man who has returned home as
a war hero. By the end of the
movie, after a long gangland
tribal war, his hair is slicked
back-he has become the cool,
heartless Don, taking over the
role of his agipg father.
Michael's gradual conversion

The rest of the film follows the
gang in their various attempts
at getting hold of the elusive
diamond over and over and
over again. A novel "caper" plot?
Perhaps. But also a tiring and
eventually a predictable one.
In keeping with the film's
kitchen sink aesthetic (the more
shtick you throw in, the more
the folks'll like it), Goldman
has added sex and comedy to
the suspense the plot is sup-
posed to generate. Sex in the
person of Topo Swope (Doro-
thy McGuire's daughter) who,
playing Segal's wife, is on screen
for two or three minutes, and
comedy through various bits,
such as the two broadly humor-
ous performances of Segal and
Ron Liebman as one of his co-
horts. Some of the comedy is
funny - Liebman grooving to
drag race records with his Ma,
the crooks flying a helicopter
over New York, landing on the
wrong roof. But many of the
jokes fall flat. William Goldman

throne. Moses falls in love with
the beautiful Nefertiri. Moses
unknowingly ' saves his real
mother's life.
Just when DeMille runs out
of material, he turns to the
Good Book for guidance. Water
turns into blood and rods into
snakes, and finally we're ready
for the great exodus. Here's
where the film is at its best.
That cast of thousands that had
been pretty much held in re-
serve troops out in all its glory.
"More than your eyes have ever
seen on the screen," the ads
boast, and it just might be.
Which is not to say that the
film is particularly good tech-
nically. For some strange rea-
son, DeMille has shot most of
the movie indoors. Many of the
scenes are poor process shots -
the sand of the Arabian desert
contrasting with the sand of the
Hollywood lot. The editing is
abominable, most of the special
effects are transparent, the act-
ing is tremendously obvious and

cinema

weekend

cat's pajamas of life.
If Room Service isn't as good
as Horsefeathers or Night at the
Opera, it's probably because it
was adapted from a successful
Broadway comedy, with the
Marx Brothers playing some-
thing other than the Marx
Brothers. However it doesn't
have any of the long musical
interludes that are more camp
than good humor. Better than
most, not as good as some . . .
That was no movie, that was
my wife .
-Peter Munsing
* *
The Ra Expedition
Campus Theater
Nominated for an Academy
Award for best documentary,
Thor Heyerdahl sails a raft
across the Atlantic to prove the
Egyptians could have done it
many centuries ago.
* * *
Le Million
Cinema Guild
Friday
One of the earliest (1931)
screen musical comedies. Michel
(Rene Lefebvre) is dead broke
andehis creditors want their
money. Just in time, though, he
discovers he has won a fortune
in a lottery. Where is the win-'
ning ticket? In his coat pocket.
But where is his coat? Rene
Clair throws something for
everyone into the ensuing search
for the missing coat: mistaken
identity, satire, chases, romance,
suspense, and wit. (Not viewed
at press time.)
--Richard Glatzer
Re port on the Party
and Its Guests
Cinema II
Friday and Saturday
An artsy, Kafkaesque political
allegory about a group of bour-
geois picnickers who allow them-
selves to be abducted by a
strangely menacing gang of
men. The film was made in
Czechoslovakia in 1966 and was
banned soon after in that coun-
try for containing too many
critical contemporary allusions.
Beware of inaccessibility; those
allusions might be lost on an
American audience. (Not viewed
at press time.)
-Richard Glatzer

Genesis 4
Creative Arts Festival
Friday
These are twelve experimental
films by new, young filmmakers,
many of them the recipients of
various cinematic awards. Fea-
tured are Silent Majority, "a so-
cial comment on 'Middle Amer-
ica'; about people who speak,
but have nothing to say," I
Don't Know, "a love story be-
tween a boy who thinks he's a
girl and a girl who thinks she's
a boy," and This is the Home of
Mrs. Levant Graham, "a sen-
sitive portrait of a black urban
mother and the large, loose-
knit family which surrounds
her, reflecting the problems, as-
pirations and culture of those in
the ghetto existence."
See MORE, Page 7
$1.50

SATURDAY NIGHT, APRIL 1,9:00 P.M.
Bursley Hall Enterprizes Presents
MICHAEL CAINE and SHELLY WINTERS
in the Baudy & Sordid
r
5c popcorn charge (at door)
FOR ALL THE POPCORN YOU CAN EAT!
Admission Complimentary-Bursley Hall West Cafe.teria

MANCE LIPSCOMB-"Age aside, he', a wonder;
age considered, at 76 he's incredible."+-Downbeat
Magazine
See MANCE LI PSCOMB, along with
SON HOUSE and ROBERT PETE WI LLIAMS
APRIL 15th at the POWER CENTER
Tickets are all $3.00 and are available at the Michigan Union
daily 11-2 P.M.

I

S4

costuming and setting in detail,
and in its three-hour length, it
resembles a revolutionary "epic"
in many ways. It has done to
the gangster movie what Bog-
danovich did to the soap opera
with Last Picture Show: through
the deft manipulation of superb
acting, it has explored so many
new aspects of its subject that
its cinematic antecedents be-
come barely recognizable.
To be sure, the gangster stere-
otypes are still there, but the
approach is different. Take the
dumb Punjab-like assassin, for
instance. In almost every gang-
ster movie there is such a. type,
an inarticulate, hulking body-
guard who is adept at inflicting
pains and drooling. But when we
see this man in The Godfather,
we do not see him breaking
someone's neck; we see him at
the wedding of Don Corleone's
daughter, sitting by himself,
practicing over and over the
thank-you speech he is going to
deliver to the Don for inviting.
him.
A sentimentalized version of
the Mafia? Perhaps. Although it
concentrates on the ritualistic,
dignified aspects of the under-
world,athe horror of the inevit-
able acts of violence is hardly
passed over lightly. And besides,
The Godfather makes no claims
on having a monopoly on real-
ity. Sure, there are a few not-
so-subtle references to the career
of Frank Sinatra and how ne
might have gotten a little help
in getting that part in Fronm
Here to, Eternity when his career
was on the skids. But this is no
documentary; it is more a, film
about men of power.
The pivotal man of power is,
of course, the godfather, Vito
Corleone, played by M a r 1on
Brando. With grey-streaked hair,
puffed-out jowls and a mess of
dark, shadowy wrinkles under
the eyes, the face seems to have
survived some arduous survival
test. And then, out of the twisted
mouth, comes The Voice, a sur-
prisingly quiet, slow rasp, an
unforgettable voice which is at
once sinister and yet almost ten-
der. That voice establishes, in
the first scenes, the basic ten-
sions of the movie, representa-
tive of the cold Jekyll and Hyde
division that the family mem-
bers can make between their
personal lives and their "busi-
ness lives." For in that first
meeting of the proud, tuxedoed
Don at his daughter's wedding,
he agrees to do some "business"
for an old acquaintance by "tak-
ing care of" some young toughs
who beat up the man's daughter.
And then the Don, without sec-
ond thoughts, walks out of his
study to "enjoy my daughter's
wedding," the way any business-
man would leave behind his'

into a powerful Mafioso type is
startling, and exeremely crucial
to the development of the film's
most ambitious conclusions.
Throughout the movie people
are murdered while those who
calmly order the deed look at
procedure as "nothing personal."
But even if the mobsters' casual
attitude becomes the norm, one's
acceptance of their attitudes is
an acceptance within the realm
of underworld morality, at least
until Michael asserts himself.
For the change in Michael and
his acceptance of depersonal-
ized, casual m u r d e r strongly
unites the "straight world" to
the goings-on in the Corleone
family, and winds up saying a
lot about the corporate nature
of America.
-Bruce Shlain
* * *
Hospital
Fox Village
Whatever may happen to you
on the streets of our cities in
these troubled times, there is.
always the chance that you'll
survive with hospitalization -
the 'last resort. Hospital com-
pletes the cynical circle with a
hospital that kills its patients
in a bureaucratic quagmire, a
world where "It is axiomatic
that nursing home doctors are
wrong."
The film describes the mur-
ders of five medical personnel
and their solution by the medi-
cal director of the hospital
(George C. Scott), alternating
between black comedy and good
potboiler. However, the events
are all plausible, and the plot
moves quickly enough so that it
never degenerates into a soap
opera - there are too many
things going wrong to have long
stretches of unadulterated angst.
The tone is cynical but not de-
spairingly so - life may be a
shilsandwich, but if you keep on
chewing you'll eventually fin-
ish. At least you won't starve.
-Peter Munsing
* * *
State
The Hot Rock
The big heist genre is over-
worked. William Golden (Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
must have realized this when
he started work on The Hot
Rock, so rather than stake all
his chips on one big theft, he
sprinkled his tale with several.
John Dortmunder (Robert
Redford) has just finished serv-
ing a four-year stretch ip pris-
on when his bumbling brother-
in-law, Andrew Kelp (George
Segal) plots a new robbery -
this time a diamond' in the
Brooklyn Museum. But no soon-
er do the boys and their two
partners manage, in their own
klutzy manner, to get the gem
out of its case than they lose it.

is no Woody Allen and even Al-
len would, seem dull under the
imprecise ' directora hand 'of
Peter Yates (Bullitt, John and
Mary).
-Richard Glatzer
* *' *
The Ten
Commandments
Fifth Forum
Moses brought the word of
God to the Hebrews. Cecil B.
DeMille brought the word of
God to the Americans. "There
is no place for the usual fiction
in a picture that deals with the
interpretations and circumstanc-
es from which not one - but
three! - of the world's great
religions have spriung," Mr. De-
Mille told his quartet of screen-
writers upon first starting work
on The Ten Commandments,
"So let it be written gentlemen!
So let it be done!"
The completed film, though,
bears a greater resemblance to
Maciste in the Vale of Woe than
it does to the Old Testament.
Priests naturally weren't too
pleased when they first saw the
film in 1956. One said the film
was more sensual, than Baby
Doll, another that the Com-
mandments are carved by, "a
sort of spiritual acetylene torch."
Yet it is just this element of
spectacle, this total lack of
subtlety that makes The Ten
Commandments as entertaining
as it is. True, DeMille sticks to
the basic outline of the hook of
Exodus. The director himself
walks out from behind a cur-
tain at the beginning of the
film and tells us that the Bible
is the story of the birth of free-
dom under God's law (the
Clockwork Orange of 1956). But
when it- comes to filling in the
first thirty years of Moses' life,
thirty years the Bible doesn't
discuss, DeMille lets loose an
entire stock of standard spec-
tacle dilemmas. Moses rivals his
"brother" Rameses for the
Film Critics?
The Daily would like to hear
from people interested in film
criticism. A p p li c a n t s should
have:
I. a basic knowledge of film
(from Ingmar Bergman to Al-
bert Zugsmith)
2. taste (better masscult than
midcult)
3. writing ability,
Please send samples of work
to The Daily c/o The Arts Editor.

the characters all speak in silly
metaphors ("I am poured out
like water").
All of which makes The Ten
Commandments perversely en-
joyable in the very best spectacle
tradition. And after all, who
goes to the movies for religion
anyway?
-Richard Glatzer
Room Service
Cinema Guild
Saturday and
Sunday
What can you say about a
Marx Brothers movie? That it
has the Marx Brothers. That it
involves a theatre troup that
has to find a backer for "Hail
and Farewell," a potential 1938
Jesus Christ Superstar. That
they can't meet a backer unless
they remain in the hotel, but
they can't remain in the hotel
until they find a backer for their
production. Eventually with the
aid of a spineless hotel manager,
an irate hotel auditor, two tem-
porary suicides, a case of the
measles, much brouhaha, hurley
burley, loveable zaniness, and
laughs galore they slip into the

At State and Liberty THE SUNDANCE
EXPRESS IS HERE!
ROBERT REDFORD
GEORGE SEGAL
DIAL 662-6264 and ZERO MOSTEL in
DIAL 662-6264~u

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JOHN COHEN
and the
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20th CENTURY-FOX Presents
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IIE"A MASTERPIECEI
--PAUL D. ZIMMERMAN. Newsweek
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