As a massive fan of The Godfather trilogy, it has been quite the week, very good and very bad. On the downside, we of course lost one of the greatest actors, James Caan whose Sonny Corleone is an all time great. On the plus side, I finally caught up with the The Offer television series and it is fucking great.
Now can you really hold a viewers interest about the making of a movie they think they know inside out, over ten episodes? It seems that yes you can, there is so much in this show where I think “Well, that bit was real, but that must be made up!”, but after researching it and realising that is based upon the memories of the main character in the show, it opened up so many Godfather tidbits I did not know – you know how many times they mention the Mafia in this greatest of all Mafia film series? Zero. Nope, not once. It seems that Joe Colombo, the Mafia (ah, I said it, don’t send me a horse head, thanks) kingpin did not want the film to be made, even sending someone to shoot up the producer’s car, but then when Albert S Ruddy, said producer, meets him and promises to remove every reference to the M word in the script, Colombo comes on board and…Well, that is a story that the show tells perfectly so I will not spoil anything that happens, except to say this is a career best performance by renowned character actor Giovanni Ribisi. Every moment he is on screen, you are unsure if he is going to laugh or crush everyone in the room, an excellently powerful performance.
The Offer also works well as it uses only ‘character actors’, a phrase I used to describe Ribisi, but it goes for everyone else in the cast, who they are never overpowers who they are playing, but when you IMDB them later you will find they have all been in things you have seen, from the Downton Abbeys to the War Dogs. Special mention to the incredible Dan Fogler who IS Francis Ford Coppola. Now this is a director that I adore, have read everything about, seen everything (not Jack, I’m not an animal) read everything and if you had told me that Fogler and Patrick Gallo together as Coppola and Puzo were old movies coloured up, I would have believed you. It’s so close to the real thing. Which also means you cannot look away, even when the film seems in danger of not happening due to politics, budget problems and guns, lots of guns. And yes, Dan Fogler is the ‘comedy foil’ guy from the Fantastic Beasts films. But not here, here he is one of Hollywood’s most iconic and is brilliant.
Two other stand outs are Matthew Goode as Robert Evans, head of Paramount, who never misses a chance to share an alcoholic beverage, wherever the hands on the clock might be falling and is captivating throughout. Is movie pressure his downfall? Or is it the partying? The drugs? The fame? The alcohol? Love? Again, I’ll leave you to see where the story goes but it is utterly compelling with some tragedy thrown in. And Juno Temple as Bettye McCartt, the sidekick of Ruddy who is there through the entire story, in the car when the Mafia try to ‘scare’ them and at Ruddy’s side as relationships are lost and the film seems a mountain just too high to climb. Utterly captivating, you will love her.
Finally, applause for Miles Teller, whose Albert S. Ruddy’s story the entire shebang is based upon. Again, he is an actor you will definitely have seen in something, but this ‘background’ history means he is perfect to play the producer, whose job it is to stay in the shadows, unless the film hits problems, you know, egos, scripts, company heads, heads in beds. Yet, there are moments which feature on his private life outside of the film (but everything blurs back to The Godfather when you’re a producer on an unsure thing like this, it sounds silly now, but the whole studio was ready to give up on this at one time) which are just as gripping and heartfelt as the moments of magic with Brando and Pacino behind the camera.
The Offer is a brilliant look at an iconic book/film. You don’t need to know your sources inside out to enjoy it, there are so many great characters here, if you view it as fiction, you’ll have a whale of a time. But if you are a fan of Puzo’s masterpiece and Coppola’s three cinematic Rushmore moments, you’ll feel like you are talking (and eating and drinking, there is a lot of that here) with an old friend when they suddenly tell you a tale you have never heard. I’ve been throwing out little facts for days. I loved it. You can grab yourself a Paramount + free trial right now, this is not sponsored in any way by the channel but they do have a great number of things on there. At least get the trial and watch The Offer.
The Offer is a 10 part series now on Paramount +