Friday, October 16, 2015

Stanley Kauffman's 1972 Review of *The Godfather*

Kauffman was not a fan of the greatest movie of all time.  Here is what he thought about Marlon Brando's performance as Vito "Don" Corleone:

But from his opening line, with his back toward us, Brando betrays that he hasn’t even got the man’s voice under control. (Listen to the word “first.” Pure Brando, not Corleone.) Insecurity and assumption streak the job from then on. They have put padding in his cheeks and dirtied his teeth, he speaks hoarsely and moves stiffly, and these combined mechanics are hailed as great acting. I don’t see how any gifted actor could have done lessthan Brando does here. His resident power, his sheer innate force, has rarely seemed weaker. His gift of mental transformation, the conviction that the changes are interior and that the externals merely reflect them, is not nearly as strong here as in, say, The Young Lions or Viva Zapata or On the Waterfront or Teahouse of the August Moon. He is handicapped by poor makeup: his hair is not gray enough and his hairline ought to have been altered so that he doesn’t constantly suggest Brando. But the real fault is his own: his laxness, sloth. He has become so lazy in recent years that he is willing to take intent for deed. Corleone has no moments of outburst—the Brando trademark, the leap of flame out of menacing quiet—so his dominance has to come from imagination; muscled by concentration. What Brando manufactures is surface—studied but easy effects.  

Read the 1972 entire New Republic review here.   Kauffman doesn't have anything good to say about Al Pacino either.