The Don and his sons.
(Paramount Pictures publicity still)
*Somerset, PA Daily American
May 29, 2010
as "A Great Man Movie"
Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey
Written content only
In 1972, a movie hit American theaters that had a defining effect on our culture. “The Godfather” chronicled the story of a Sicilian-American organized crime “family,” the Corleones.
The story captivated the public to be sure, but men especially were riveted by the story. The characters were larger than life, and in a twisted sort of way, became role models. Suddenly, the Mafia had become cool. And in the decades since, the Godfather Saga has become irretrievably etched into our lives, to the unending exasperation of Italian-Americans across the nation.
Women are almost universally repulsed by the movies, due mainly to the violence and the portrayal of the female role in that that culture. My wife bought me for my birthday, the latest DVD incarnation of all three movies with the proviso that I could only watch them when she was out of the house.
Men, on the other hand, embrace Godfather, as Tom Hanks put it in the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” “the I Ching of life.” He was referring to the ancient Chinese “Book of Changes,” that helped people deal with life changes by providing solutions and a measure of solace. The aphorisms that the film created have found their way into the daily lexicon from the Boardroom to the ballfield:
“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
“Go to the mattresses.”
“It’s not personal; it’s business.”
“Luca Brazi sleeps with the fishes.”
“I want you to see what he’s got under his fingernails.”
“I heard you were a serious man; to be treated with respect.”
“You have to answer for Santino, Carlo.”
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
They’re great phrases, adaptable to any number of situations and because they’re so well known, the intended meaning is instantly clear.
As to why males find the story so fascinating, the answer to that question I believe lies in the culture of manhood.