'Mad Men' stars promote 'The Godfather' on AMC

Posted by · 6:48 pm · February 29th, 2012

Spinning off of Roth’s piece this morning about the “Godfather” re-release, I just flipped it over to AMC and see that the film is airing there now. It’ll show again at midnight.

According to Entertainment Weekly, “The Godfather: Part II” will air on Tuesday and Thursday at 8 pm and 12:30 am. “The trilogy will then be aired in its entirety on Friday, March 2, from 9:30 am through 10 pm. The celebration culminates on Saturday with AMC”s premiere of the digitally-restored version of ‘The Godfather Saga’ beginning at 10 am.” You can learn more about the latter here. It’s awesome.

Anyway, in a nice bit of self-promotion, AMC has tapped stars of its hit series “Mad Men” to promote the film, its 40th anniversary and the channel’s special presentations. Jon Hamm, Jared Harris and Vincent Kartheiser are tapped for comments. I also saw “Breaking Bad”‘s Giancarlo Esposito thrown in there, too.

You can check out a truncated clip of those remembrances at EW (and test your “Godfather” trivia at AMC), but Hamm’s full thoughts I just caught while watching and figured I’d type them out. Not that it’s overly insightful, but Hamm said that Coppola’s 1972 Best Picture winner is one of the films he remembers “seeing and being blown away by, all the performances, all the characters, this unbelievably epic story. It’s an immigrant story and it’s a crime story and the music is so evocative. It’s so deeply interwoven. It’s really a masterpiece.”

The “M” word. #truthbomb

I remember “The Godfather” as this daunting near deity of movies when I was young, something higher than. I liked that sight-unseen sizzle, so naturally it had already taken on a mythic shape before I finally put in a VHS some time in high school to really study it.

It lived up to the hype. To say the least. It felt like the Mona Lisa of the form I was just beginning to understand on a deeper level. It had an aura that was palpable. It wasn’t just the nuts and bolts, the narrative precision, the thematic complexity. It was the attitude of the film which set it apart from anything I had ever seen. It was its self-assurance.

That’s a word I used to describe Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” at Sundance this year, “assured.” It’s rare that it comes along. It’s rarer, still, the directors that maintain it throughout a career. But “The Godfather” had it in spades, and despite its own circumstances (its embattled behind-the-scenes life).

When I saw “The Godfather Part II,” well, I didn’t know it was possible to be that wowed by a sequel, even though the line on the film was always that it somehow topped the first. I don’t actually agree with that notion, but it comes pretty damn close.

Some films can actually be diminished by expected or agreed-upon greatness, I think. Something like “The Godfather” becomes taken for granted. “Of course it’s great.” (Meryl Streep no doubt has suffered that kind of passive acceptance in her career.) But some films need to be consistently held up as a standard.

I’m watching it now, simultaneously in awe of its grandeur and its intimate exactitude. There Vito lies in bed, asking after his son Michael. It was Michael who took vengeance on Sollozzo, of course. He’ll be in hiding for some time, Hagen reveals. And you can see Vito’s heart break, in his eyes, in his slow, painful acceptance of what’s to come. The film is rich with that.

Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando were responsible for that moment, and James Caan, Diane Keaton, Sterling Hayden, Richard S. Castellano, Talia Shire and John Cazale many more.

“The Godfather” has kind of remained that sort of American cinema standard for me. There are films I like better because they speak to me in this or that magnetic way, but I can’t deny the, well, undeniable. “The Godfather” is indeed the “M” word.

Tell us about the first time YOU saw “The Godfather.”

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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