There are a great many people out there who like to say that “The Godfather Part II” is superior to “The Godfather.” Al Pacino is not one of them. The 82-year-old actor went uptown to the 92nd St. Y on Wednesday to sit for an hour-long schmooze as part of their “People Who Inspire Us” series. (While there, let’s hope he lit a candle for Rizzo’s Fine Pizza a block away, which recently closed for good.) During the conversation, he dished on a number of subjects, including the movie that sent his career into orbit.
“You see, ‘The Godfather’ is more entertaining,” he said. “‘Godfather II’ is this study, this personal thing for Francis [Ford Coppola]. ‘Godfather I,’ I saw it recently, it’s always got two or three things going on in a scene. You’re always in the story, you’re going. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, it’s storytelling, it’s really storytelling at its best. ‘Godfather II’ sort of linearizes, and [it’s] kind of different, somber, moves slowly. But it’s a great movie, I have to say.”
Pacino did not get into “Godfather III” at all, but he did query the audience to see who had watched Paramount+’s “The Offer.” He said that he’d seen it and “about half of it is true,” a degree of verisimilitude that he considered “a shock.” He also joked that after the first day of shooting he and Diane Keaton went out to get hammered because they were convinced they’d botched their careers, as the movie was “a mess.” Of course, “The Godfather” was a massive success that won the Best Picture Oscar, Best Actor for Marlon Brando, Best Adapted Screenplay for Coppola and Mario Puzo, and Best Score for Nino Rota (who then had it revoked on a technicality). Pacino was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, as was James Caan and Robert Duvall, Coppola for Best Director, and there were also nominations for Costume Design, Editing, and Sound. “The Godfather Part II” was a similar bonanza, winning for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Adapted Screenplay, Score (this time for keeps, and with Rota sharing with Carmine Coppola), and Art Direction. Additional nominations went to Talia Shire for Best Supporting Actress, Pacino for Best Actor, and Lee Strasberg and Michael V. Gazzo both lost to De Niro for Best Supporting Actor.
Pacino also joked that he gave Harrison Ford his career, repeating the story of how he turned down “Star Wars.”
“I got the script, they offered me so much money, but I [didn’t] understand it,” he said about reading George Lucas’s vision of the galaxy far, far away. He referred to his dismissal as a regret, and added “I gave Harrison Ford a career, which he has never thanked me for!”
The living legend is working on his memoirs, and, while he’s got projects in development (he’s said to be on board for “Heat 2” and he wants to launch a production of “King Lear” soon) he also has a curious way of looking at retirement. “I’m always retired. I was retired when I was 25. I mean, who cares? Please don’t call it retired, I just don’t want to work anymore.”
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