Welcome to the next guest entry wrapping up the first week of Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022. Let’s all give a warm welcome to my old blogging friend coming to us from his new(er) blog Eric from Film Miasma. If you don’t know Eric from before, basically he used to run the extremely fun and legendary Shitfest which in some ways does make sense that he now runs Film Miasma where he goes and watches bad horror movies and gives entertaining reviews about them. Eric has a unique writing style in the blogging world that is an all around fun time whether you like the same movies as him or just want to use his reviews as a guide to avoid the crappy B-horror films. Remember to head over and check out his blog and give him a follow!
Film Miasma comes to us with the 1972 Italian giallo film, The Case of the Bloody Iris!
what are those strange drops of blood doing on jennifer’s body? (1972)
I think, when you think, or the curious film thinker thinks about Giallo, the first thing that probably comes to mind is: a very strange title and probably naked Italians. Of course, that would also mean that you’ve probably seen one or two to get you to that impression in the first place. I’ve seen quite a few of them and, in general, I like them a lot and most of them fit this mold: a strange movie title!, a murder!, more murders!, naked Italians!, inept police!, a dozen or so suspects!, a mystery that probably won’t be solved until the very last second!. A lot of them also feature some nasty kills which could turn a lot of people away. Most of them also feature pretty creative camera work and some of that cool 70s chic that I loved growing up (and still do).For better or worse, if you were looking to look this up, it will probably be found under The Case of The Bloody Iris and it’s actually pretty tame as far as Giallo goes but it’s also one of the good ones.
The basic plot is this: someone killed a call girl, then a stripper who will wrestle you for money, followed by the leader of a Group Sex Astrology Cult and, naturally, some more characters along the way. Instead of the graphic nature of the murders, this one is more interested in leading you in (maybe!) misdirection on who could be pulling these off. Is it the terrified-of-blood building architect who has drawings for all of the rooms in his office? Is it the flamboyant photographer who takes photos of nude women to sell motorcycle ads? Is it Edwidge Fenech’s character’s ex-husband who used to shoot her up with heroin for group orgies? Is it the mysterious, retired, violin playing Professor next door? Is it his aggressive daughter Sheila? Is it the deformed son of the decrepit lady down the hall? Is it the police investigator who steals envelopes from crime scenes for their stamps?
Well – it could be any of them, really. Maybe someone just has bad headaches. Maybe this one guy just likes detective magazines. Maybe someone was in a bad car crash when he or she was a kid and got — strange drops of blood all over his or her body… Maybe!
The cleverness to these things, I believe, comes in the direction or at least the work of the DP. You don’t really see things like this that often any more (or maybe not in the things I like to watch) but I always enjoy the slow movement of the camera instead of just the traditionally stick it on a tripod method. And especially not gimmicky shaky cam trying to signify you’re someone watching things unfold, right there, in the scene. Take this an an example:
A man is looking in a file cabinet, he’s mumbling about how the criminals are getting smarter than the police. We pan right as he’s now complaining about his partner who is so stupid he should get demoted to the fire department. The camera stops on a ringing phone (rotary even!). Someone picks it up. Panning right further, we stop on a new character sitting in an office chair, a bottle of dark scotch in the forefront. He’s smoking! Offscreen, someone hangs up the phone. The camera pans right, to the door, someone opens it and advertises there’s been another murder. Someone’s been stabbed in the street! She had an armful of groceries! The two characters from the left of the room scramble out, putting out their cigarettes and putting on their hats. The door slams shut and the camera makes its way back to the telephone. Was that what we were supposed to be paying attention to the entire time? Who called what in? Was it the ex-wife? Was it the roommate? Was it the maître d’ at the wrestling club? What’s the significance??
One last thing I’d like to mention – we’ve all seen a shot somewhere of a body being thrown down the middle of a stairwell, hitting everything on the way down, right? Sure – of course, probably. Well, here – not only do we get that but, just to make things clear, they do it again for good measure! And not the same body! Score!
All in all, I don’t know if this is because it came around in the early 70s before everything started getting really weird but, for Giallo, while strange, this one is tamer than the later ones. Still R Rated no doubt, but not as grisly as some of the others.
Welcome to the first guest post of Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022. The first guest is a fresh face to our blogathon, Keith from Various Ramblings of a Nostalgic Italian. Let’s all give him a warm welcome. If you haven’t checked out Various Ramblings of a Nostalgic Italian, you definitely should as its a fun personal blog with little bits on TV and movie-related parts. Remember to head over and check out his blog and give him a follow if you haven’t already. Keith is joining us with his thoughts on the 1972 classic The Godfather.
It has been some time since I have been able to participate in a Blogathon, but when I saw that The Ultimate Decades Blogathon was being hosted by my friends over at Tranquil Dreams (Kim) and Drew’s Movie Reviews, I had to take part in it. The basic theme is to blog about a movie that was released in a year ending in “2.” While scanning the releases from 1972 – it became very obvious which movie I would be writing about – The Godfather. (This blog may contain spoilers.)
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film. This puts me at a disadvantage. Why? Because, let’s face it, there will be plenty of articles, books, internet articles, magazine special editions and more about this movie. You will not have to go far to find material on this masterpiece. As a matter of fact, I am currently reading one of the books that was released just a few months ago about the film.
I had actually hoped to finish the book prior to having to write this blog. I am just over halfway finished and it is fantastic!
This week, I watched the film in its entirety in preparation for this blogathon. With every viewing, I come to appreciate it more and more. It remains a film that I never tire of watching. It never gets old. It still holds up 50 years later. The Mark Seal book I am reading has certainly made me more aware of the difficulties that surrounded the making of The Godfather. At times, you wonder how it ever was finished!
At any rate, what could a lowly blogger like me possibly present to you about the Best Picture Winner of 1972? My thoughts, my observations, and my reasons for loving it. Now that I think about it, I guess I chose this film for selfish reasons. I have quoted it and referred to it in passing in past blogs, but I have never actually devoted an entire blog to it.
Unlike some blogs, mine is a personal blog that features stories from my past, posts about my family, posts about my struggles, posts about my passions, likes, and dislikes. It is a picture of “me.” No picture of me would be complete without The Godfather. So, here goes….
The First Viewing
I was two years old when The Godfather came out. I don’t recall exactly how old I was when I first saw it. What I do remember is that it was not a complete viewing.
As a teen, I remember my dad would always be laying on the floor watching TV. I had come into the room and my dad was watching the movie which was playing on one of the local networks. I remember being instantly being caught up in it. As my memory serves me, the scene I was watching was where Michael goes to the hospital and no one is watching his father. I remember him begging the nurse to help move him because people were coming “to kill him.”
Once the Don (Marlon Brando) is moved to another room, Enzo the baker is shown walking up the stairs and down the hall. The entire scene where Michael and Enzo are out in front of the hospital as the car carrying the murderers pulls up (and drives away) had me at the edge of my seat! I watched the rest of the movie with my dad and remember asking him a gazillion questions.
Eventually, my dad purchased the movies (Part 1 & 2) on VHS. I remember watching Part One from beginning to end and being blown away. I was never really aware of the film’s length because it held my attention all the way through. Admittedly, it took more than a couple viewings to finally get all the names of the various characters right.
For the next couple years, it seemed like HBO or The Movie Channel played the Godfather films in a hot rotation right around Christmastime. I remember going over to my girlfriend’s house and her dad was watching it. I sat down on the couch and we bonded immediately over the film. I’m not sure she was too happy that our time together was sitting on the couch watching a “mob movie.”
The movie is one of the few films that I have to sit down and watch if it is on TV. If I am scanning channels and it is on, I stop and watch. I can’t help it. I get caught up into it immediately.
The Big Screen
In 2002, select theaters were showing the film for its 30th anniversary. This was an opportunity that I had to take advantage of. My wife at the time had never seen the movie and I asked if she would like to see it. She said yes and we bought tickets.
I wish I could convey to you the amount of excitement that I felt as I sat in the seats of the Royal Oak Main Theater (in Michigan) as the lights dimmed and the movie started. This was my first time watching this masterpiece on the big screen. The camera fired up and there was the solo trumpet playing the opening 7 notes of The Godfather Theme. I had chills!
“I believe in America….” The words of Amerigo Bonasera came through the sound system. The camera fades in on his face as he tells the story of his daughter and the boys who beat her. The camera pulls further and further away from him and eventually we see the back of Don Corleone. We hear the dialogue between them and it isn’t until we see Bonasera whispering in the Don’s ear that we finally see the man – Don Corleone, played by the great Marlon Brando!
The opening scene of the film remains one of my favorites of all time. It is just brilliant. It is perfect. Watching it on the big screen for the first time remains one of the coolest moments!
Mario Puzo’s novel does not open with this scene. Director Francis Ford Coppola stated that he knew this was the scene that should open the film. I can’t imagine it opening any other way. So much is conveyed it this scene – respect, disrespect, power, and family. It is the perfect springboard for the remainder of the film.
It is probably easy for me to say that the cast of the Godfather is perfect, especially since it is 50 years old. Believe it or not, Paramount was against Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone. They also were not keen on Al Pacino as Michael. Can you imagine James Caan as Michael (and NOT Sonny)? How about Martin Sheen instead of Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen? There was quite a lot of fighting over who should play who in the movie. In the end, Coppola wound up with the cast that he wanted, and when you see the finished product, you see that he had it right all along.
Fun Fact: Mario Puzo actually wrote a letter to Marlon Brando telling him that he thought Brando would be perfect for the role of Don Vito Corleone in the film. He stated in his letter that Brando was the “only actor who can play the Godfather.”
Not Just Another “Mobster Flick”
People who have never seen the Godfather assume that it is just another mobster film. I would tend to disagree. To me, it is more about family, greed, power, and loyalty. Coppola stated somewhere that he wanted to show that the Corleone family were real people, with jobs (illegal or not), children, a home life, etc…
One of the first things we see in the film is a huge family wedding. There is laughter, dancing, music, food, and plenty of friends and family. We also see the mixture of business and family, as the Don is “working” in his den as the wedding is going on. We see him as a husband and father, dancing with his wife and his daughter at the wedding festivities. The importance of family is present as the family poses for a photo, but the Don states that it cannot be taken until Michael arrives.
Fun Fact: Throughout the entire film, the word “mafia” is never uttered.
The “Family” Business
The phrase “family business” is used a few times in the film. To me, the term illustrates that the two are separate, yet connected. It becomes very clear that when it comes to business, the Don, his consigliere (Tom Hagen) and his two older sons (Sonny and Fredo) are involved. The youngest son, Michael, however is not a part of the family business. Sonny says that he (Michael) didn’t want to “get mixed up in” it. Michael is also referred to as a “civilian” by family members. Yet his entering the business is one of the most intriguing things to me about the movie.
When Michael makes his entrance into the film he is walking hand in hand with his girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton) in his military uniform. We see him walking from behind almost swaying, without seeing his face, we know that he is happy and in love. He is a far cry from the man he will transform into. He is soft spoken, even when he explains to Kay some of the terrible things his family is responsible for. He also makes it a point to explain, “That’s my family, Kay. NOT ME.”
In an interesting turn of events, not very far into the movie the “star” is shot and absent for much of the middle of the film. I am talking about The Godfather himself, Vito Corleone (Brando). This event leads to the beginning of the transformation of Michael. The soft spoken son, who has had his jaw broken by a corrupt cop, is now telling his brothers that he will step in and knock off the man responsible for shooting his father (which brings about a lot of laughter by them at first, but ultimately is what the family decides to do).
In this scene, Coppola again works magic with the camera. As Michael describes what he wants to do, the camera slowly moves closer and closer to him. As the camera stops he states firmly, “I’ll kill them both.” The transformation has begun.
It continues quickly. During the scene where Michael is going to shoot them, you can see him lost in thought as Virgil Solozzo (who set up the hit on the Don) and the police captain are sitting across from him at the table. I love that as the camera sits on his face, the sounds of the trains get louder and louder until he finally stands and shoots his victims.
By the end of the film, Michael has become Don. His dark eyes tell a story of tragedy and anger. He is cold and heartless. He has “settled” all family business.
To me, this is one of the most amazing character transformations in all of film. He has gone from likeable to someone you cringe at when you look at him. He makes your stomach turn.
I feel as though I have not even begun to scratch the surface of just what a powerful movie this is. When someone thinks about the Godfather, they think of:
The horse’s head
Leave the gun. Take the cannoli
Sonny getting shot at the toll booth
The meeting of the Five Families
The interplay between the “settling of family business” and the baptism
There are so many wonderful scenes throughout this picture. I could write a blog about each of those scenes just as easily as I could write a blog about each character. The things presented here, are the things that stood out for me right from the get go when I wondered what to present.
For anyone who has never seen the movie, it is a must watch. You also need to watch it more than once. As I stated, it gets better every time. I also recommend reading the book, whether you do it before or after watching the movie, it really doesn’t matter. In some cases, reading it before will give you a better chance at remembering who is who. For me, it gave me a lot more insight as to what characters were thinking during key scenes.
(Note: Pick up Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather Notebook. It has pages from the novel and his notes. It is fun to see how he thinks about what to keep and what to leave out. It is also cool to see what he thought was important and just how to convey things on film.)
There is plenty of imagery throughout the film. One of my favorite examples of this involves the scenes where someone kisses the Godfather’s ring. Like a pair of book ends – we see two Dons (Vito from the beginning of the film and Michael from the end of the film) in an almost identical scene. The family’s power has been transferred from one to another.
Coppola is a master at tying things together and the pictures above illustrate that.
I, on the other hand, tend to ramble (hence the title of my Blog Page). I hope that you have found my thoughts on the film enjoyable. I hope that they move you to watch the film again or for the first time.
In closing, I want to thank my friends at Tranquil Dreams and Drew’s Movie Reviews for allowing me to take part in this blogathon. I highly recommend that you follow them for some pretty amazing content.
Thanks so much to Keith from Various Ramblings of a Nostalgic Italian for sharing his personal experiences and thoughts on The Godfather, no doubt a classic to many. Remember to check out his blog and give him a follow!
Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews tomorrow to check out the next entry in the blogathon. Hint: This one goes WAY back!