Two years after the megahit classic, "The Godfather", Writer/Director Francis Ford Coppola reassembled his cast in 1974 and created arguably the best sequel in film history, THE GODFATHER PART II.
Coppola doubles down on his tale, spinning two timelines in the film as we see Michael Corleone taking control of the family and the past history of his father Vito Corleone as a young man, rising to power in America.
Robert De Niro plays young Vito, landing in America with nothing and slowly building his reputation and power within New York City. It's fascinating to watch Vito grasp how the neighborhood is run and then grasp control of it through both loyalty and violence.
The story telling is a nice contrast to the film's more current timeline, showing Michael (Al Pacino in one of his best performances) battling forces outside and within the powerful mafia family.
Robert Duvall is excellent as his right hand man, Diane Keaton is terrific as his wife Kay, Talia Shire is a dark treat as his sister Connie and Lee Strasberg is perfect as fellow Don, Hyman Roth.
As Michael's power spreads from Tahoe to Vegas to Cuba, the film hops not only from place to place, but back and forth in time between the two stories, often blending from one to another as Vito and his son Michael face the same challenges many years apart.
At over three hours long, the film is NEVER boring, the set design in 1910's
Sicily and 1950's Miami and Cuba is flawless and its all wrapped in some of the best cinematography ever courtesy of the brilliant Gordon Willis.
The first film was brilliant and somehow Coppola crafts an ever greater work here, taking us deep inside Michael's world as his crime family and blood family force him to make life and death decisions that ripple across both families in gory, graphic outbursts of violent murder.
Pacino is amazing. De Niro matches him in a quiet, early performance that is stunning now compared to some of his later, much louder work.
Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (De Niro), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Music Score (who can forget that haunting theme), this is an all-time classic.
From first scene to last, it's fantastic, exciting and rich storytelling and one of the best films ever made. I revisit the first two films in the trilogy every couple years and they NEVER disappoint.
Coppola's created a masterwork that I cannot refuse. It gets an A+.
Followed 16 years later by the final chapter, "The Godfather Part III".