The Godfather: Part II (1974)

 

Screenplay Genre: Crime / Drama

Movie Time: 200 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

During the party for his son’s confirmation, Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) has a heated discussion with Frankie Pentangeli (Michael V. Gazzo). Frankie, who runs things in New York for the Corleones, isn’t pleased that Michael chooses inaction in the face of attacks against the family. Michael explains he has business with Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), and he doesn’t want to mess things up by retaliating against the gangs that Roth controls. Frankie follows Michael’s orders, but he loudly states that Roth is not to be trusted. (00:31:44)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

After the party, Michael and his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) barely escape with their lives when massive gunfire explodes through the bedroom window as they’re preparing for bed. Michael appoints his adopted brother Tom Hagen (Robert Duval) as the new Don. This relieves Michael from the day to day responsibilities of Don so that he can track down the traitor that allowed this attack to happen and protect his family with all the tools available to him. (00:39:01)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

During a business trip, Michael overhears his brother Fredo (John Cazale) explain that Roth’s man Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese) showed him a good time on his last trip to Cuba; but when Michael had first introduced the two that evening, they both acted as if they had never met before. Michael knows now—Fredo, his own brother, is the traitor. (01:27:56)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

After the Cuba debacle where Fredo ran away and Roth survived the hit that Michael ordered on him, Michael must face a new crisis—he is put on trial for being the head of The Mafia. He manages to elude the allegations and maintain the family, but Kay threatens to leave him and take the kids with her. He apologizes for the stress of the assassination attempt and trial. Asking forgiveness for inadvertently causing her to miscarry, he explains that now he will change. But she calls him blind, revealing she had an abortion, so the evil of this family would not continue. (2:42:23)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

A montage of violent assassinations: Hyman Roth is murdered in broad daylight, Frankie Pentangeli follows orders by committing suicide in prison, and Fredo is killed by a family friend during a fishing trip. This last death is the most telling because Fredo had earlier explained that he was the best at catching fish out of all the brothers—accomplishing this feat by saying a Hail Mary before each fish. Fredo says a Hail Mary again, just before he is murdered. This series of deaths illustrates that Michael has, in an ultimate way, chosen “His Family” over his family. (2:10:12)