Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Michael Corleone

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” ~Don Vito Corleone

It is the opinion of this writer that The Godfather is the most quoted movie ever made. Filmed in the early 1970’s when a disenfranchised audience was still hurting from the daily bad news from the Vietnam War and from the government’s betrayal in the Watergate break-in, director Francis Ford Coppola hadn’t a clue as to what the effect the movie would have to future film buff generations.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone

Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Abe Vigoda, John Cazale—the list goes on an on of great actors who starred in The Godfather. But for today’s Wednesday Warriors series, Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone, the natural heir to the godfather’s family, hits today’s highlight.

A war hero, dating longtime friend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) and the son of Don Vito Corleone, one of New York’s most feared men, Michael Corleone didn’t want to be part of the family. He hated it. At his sister Connie’s wedding day, he says to Kay, “That’s my family, Kay. That’s not me.” This was after she pressed him to explain what Luca Brasi was doing sitting outside Don Vito’s office mumbling to himself. Michael simply told her the story of how his father and Luca dealt with someone opposing the family business, “Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”

Michael Corleone
Michael Corleone

When an attempt on his father’s life forces Michael to flee to Italy, he meets the beautiful Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli). For the first time Michael falls in love. Soon after his father’s enemies catch up with Michael, however, Apollonia is the one who meets with fate. This causes Michael to turn inward, and all the energy he’d expended to stay away from the family business becomes the power he wields to protect his family at all costs.

The character Michael Corleone is a dark figure in fiction some would consider cold and ruthless. Orchestrating the murders of his enemies and using the vacuum in power to advance his own agenda speaks as a testament to his management style. When his brother Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) asks Michael, “Is it worth it? I mean, you’ve won, you want to wipe everybody out?” Michael answers without a hint of emotion, “I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.”

But Michael is a complicated man. Later in life, he comes to regret his life in the family and realizes his real flesh and blood family is what is more important to him than anything else is in the world. It’s that regret, which later turns to repentance that redeems Michael from the everyday fiery hell he had to live through in order to carry on with living. Only after he makes a solemn promise to turn from his life of crime does he finally find peace.


Have you seen any of The Godfather movies? What do you think of Michael’s progression through the ranks of his family?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday


From the moment she appears on the screen, she captures Tony Montana’s heart and doesn’t let go. A blonde bombshell from Baltimore, Elvira Hancock is the token prize to whoever can claim her as his. That is, whoever can afford her.


For those who have been following Women Who Wow Wednesday, Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) seems an unlikely candidate to include in the series. After all, she’s spoiled, a narcissist, a drug addict—everything about her would make a family man cringe not wanting to have anything to do with her.

But there are moments—moments when in the throes of confusion—when she can utter just one line and it would relate years of wisdom within a single thought.

First, let’s get to the backstory. Tony Montana (Al Pacino), a political refuge from Cuba, lands on United States soil seeking asylum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fidel Castro, the little island’s leader, had opened the floodgates releasing the dregs of his jails to an unsuspecting American people. Tony, a possible former assassin, is one of them.

In a refugee camp, Tony earns his Green Card by murdering a former Castro associate in a brutal act of vengeance. Released to the streets of Miami, he rises from dishwasher to a full-fledged drug dealer importing cocaine from Columbia. His world changes once he meets Elvira.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock
Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock

You see, Elvira is Frank Lopez’s wife. Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) is a drug kingpin. Frank Lopez is Tony’s boss.

It doesn’t stop Tony from chasing after the knockout waif. Despite her illegal cravings, her self-absorbed attitude and her constant need for attention, Elvira is a fighter and that is what Tony recognizes. The men she associates with can have her snuffed out without so much as a second thought. Yet she gets away with talking back without much resistance.

When Elvira wants something, she goes for it. She doesn’t beat around the bush:

Elvira: So do you want to dance, Frank, or do you want to sit there and have a heart attack?
Frank: Me, dance? Hey, I think I wanna have a heart attack.

When Tony steps out of line, disrespecting her, she has this to say:

Tony: Now you’re talking to me, Baby.
Elvira: Don’t call me “Baby”. I’m not your “Baby”.

At the height of her drug abuse, she manages to utter one of the most prolific lines in the entire movie:

Elvira: Nothing exceeds like excess. You should know that, Tony.

It gets better. When things begin to sour between her and Tony, her quick wit provides some much-needed levity in their marriage:

Tony: I work hard for this. I want you to know that.
Elvira: It’s too bad. Somebody should’ve given it to you. You would’ve been a nicer person.

Finally, while everything falls apart, Elvira sticks to her guns:

Tony: Look at that: a junkie… I got a junkie for a wife… Her womb is so polluted… I can’t even have a little baby with her!
[Elvira throws wine in Tony’s face]
Elvira: How dare you talk to me like that! What makes you so much better than me? What do you do? Kill people? Deal your drugs? Real contribution to human history, Tony. What makes you think you can be a father? You don’t even know how to be a good husband.

Now, Tony could easily put a bullet in her head, but he doesn’t. Regardless of her shortcomings, she not only makes sense, she also proves that standing up to a force much more powerful than herself proves her ability to dictate her self-worth. And that’s something to wow about.


Have you seen Scarface? What did you think of Elvira?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Kay Corleone

When she married into the Corleone family, she didn’t know what she was getting into. After all, her husband, Michael (Al Pacino), was a war hero. A gentleman. His family at the time seemed warm, friendly, and above all, close. Yet, the warning signs were there, the red flags a woman ought never to ignore. Women Who Wow Wednesday explores Kay Adams-Corleone of The Godfather I & II.

Kay Corleone
Kay Corleone

Being Italian, I grew up with the Francis Ford Coppola film Mario Puzo‘s The Godfather on TV. While my friends watched hockey, I delved in the world of the Corleones. Not surprising, the family dynamic of the main protagonists reminded me of my own family. We ate pasta on Sundays, had massive weddings to attend, and always had an envelop ready for a special occasion. Our music was fun, our food was filling, and our stories we told were always of the old country. How great the old country was and how we’d like to go back and live there someday.

Kay (Diane Keaton) first appears as Michael Corleone’s date at his sister (Talia ShireConnie’s wedding. There, she meets Michael’s brother Fredo (John Cazale), who seems wet behind the ears from all the booze flowing from the open bar. Sitting across the table from Michael, she wonders what a big man like Luca Brasi’s doing talking to himself. Michael calmly tells her how Luca helped his father (Marlon Brando) handle a family matter. A bandleader wouldn’t cut Johnny Fontane (Al Martino), Connie’s wedding singer and friend of the family, from his contract. Michael then adds, “Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”

That was Kay’s introduction to Michael’s family. Michael attempts to comfort Kay’s concern with telling her, “That’s my family, Kay, that’s not me.”

They fell in love while they were students at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, just after the war in 1945.

When a murder attempt on Michael’s father goes bad, Kay doesn’t reappear until a year after Michael returns from his exile in Italy. She meets him for the first time not knowing he’s changed. His heart has grown cold from witnessing the death of his first wife, Apollonia, who he’d met in Italy and had later died in a car bomb explosion meant for him. Kay agrees to marry her longtime love, Michael, after he promises her his family’s business will become legitimate within five years.

During the baptism of his sister’s first child, Connie’s husband disappears. Murdered. Kay approaches Michael about it. He refuses to answer her question of whether he had anything to do with it. She doesn’t back down. He explodes, “Enough!” Moments later, he cedes to her curiosity. Just this once. She asks again if he knows anything about Connie’s husband. No, is his flat reply.

Liar. And she knows it.

Kay (Photo Credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)
Kay (Photo Credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)

As the door closes on a chapter in the life of the new godfather, Kay realizes Michael has her trapped.

An associate’s plot to murder Michael brings out the worst in everyone. Kay has already been stewing about his part in the death of Connie’s husband, and to make matters worse, she’s pregnant with his third child. Her attitude toward him has been less than enthusiastic. His long absences and lies have also taken a toll on Kay. She appears older and stoic. However, she continues with loving her children in spite of Michael’s business dealings.

Throughout Michael’s ascent to power, Kay has watched him selfishly turn inward to a nub of the man he never wanted to become. She understands she made a mistake marrying him and wants out. But, how to tell him? He’s the head of one of the most ruthless crime families in all of the U.S., there’s no way he’d take the news of her wanting to leave without a fight. At the same time, she miscarries.

Yet, she gathers her belongings, packs the kids and approaches her soon-to-be former husband. In a heated argument guaranteed to get her killed, she stands up to the crime boss telling him of her intentions to leave, wanting to take the children with her.

He will not have it. She will not take the kids. Ever.

In a bold move to assert her own control, Kay reveals the child she said she’d miscarried she instead had aborted. She couldn’t see herself rearing another Corleone in Michael’s world. Yes, it was a boy.

Without warning, Michael unleashes a slap that Kay absorbs in horror.

Kay Corleone (Photo credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)
Kay Corleone (Photo credit: Cinéfilos por Natureza)

Soon after, she no longer is part of the family; even loosing her children to their father’s misshaped view of life. But as with anything that ever happens, something positive always comes from it. She no longer has to deal with the days of loneliness behind the confines of the four walls of her home. She’s also free from pretending anymore to love her husband who has been nothing but an overbearing, domineering man obsessed with control over every aspect of her life. And she can now live a life of freedom. Free from her husband’s lies. Free from her husband’s anger.

Years later, when Michael and Kay meet again, this conversation takes place:

Michael Corleone: I spent my life protecting my son. I spent my life protecting my family!
Kay Let’s be reasonable here, Michael. I mean, that’s your big thing, isn’t it? Reason backed up by murder.
Michael Corleone: Oh, God, you hate me. You hate me.
Kay: No, I don’t hate you, Michael. I dread you.
Michael Corleone: I did what I could, Kay, to protect all of you from the horrors of this world.
Kay: But you became my horror.

Was it worth it for Kay to have gone against the family in such a way? Do you think she initially lived a life naïve of her husband’s deceptive ways?