The Family Corleone and the Godfather Legacy

On May 8th a prequel to the classic GODFATHER will hit the stores, THE FAMILY CORLEONE, a prequel written by Ed Falco and based on a screenplay by Mario Puzo. A little background; I read the Godfather back in the early 70’s before the movie came out when I was just a wee lad. When the movie came out my parents didn’t think I was old enough to see it ( I was 9) and in hindsight I guess they were right. THE GODFATHER is a book I re-read every couple years. I also read THE SCICILIAN which had some loose ties to the Godfather world. I was the movies (1 & 2) at least once a year. I’ve also read just about everything Mario Puzo has in print. I’m a fan. So a few weeks back at the time of this writing I opened a package from Grand Central Publishing and what do I see? THE FAMILY CORLEONE in giant white letters in the same font used on The Godfather. I am immediately drawn to this book. Right away I notice that it is a prequel written not by Puzo but an author named Ed Falco. This lets the wind out of my sails a little but I very quickly see that is based on a screenplay that was written by Mario Puzo. Ed Falco is the author of three other books including the mob related SAINT JOHN OF THE FIVE BOROUGHS. The Virginia Tech professor is also the Uncle of Edie Falco of The Sopranos. His pedigree seems perfect for someone to do this book and the Puzo family seems to agree. THE GODFATHER has become part of our culture. Lines from the movie are quoted constantly. Making someone an offer they can’t refuse is almost a business mantra. My favorite line is “It’s not personal, it’s business” and I use it a lot. There is a company making horse head pillows. Everyone in the movie went on to become stars. And arguably some of them did their best work here. Puzo also had a stellar career following THE GODFATHER. The six books he wrote after this were all hits. And THE FOURTH K is one of my all-time favorites.

The book starts in 1933 with Santino (Sonny) Corleone at 17 years old, he is working in a garage trying to make his Father happy. But Sonny thinks he should be in the family business. His actions end up having an impact on his Father’s business and eventually the whole thing come to a head. The book shows how Luca Brasi came to work for Vito Corleone, we get to see Sonny courting his future wife, Clemenza and Tessio are in their prime and we really see them doing what they do at their best. If you have any knowledge of The Godfather you will love this book. It’s a perfect addition to the Corleone saga. For me the best part was the way it fills in the backstory that is only hinted at in the movies and original book. Will it be made into a movie? My guess would be that the rights will sell if they haven’t already. Will it be made? Who knows. The truth is that no matter who makes a movie based on this everyone who sees it will compare it to the original and those two movies are among the best ever made. In my opinion they should leave it alone. When you see this book, buy it. It is written with love for the characters and respect for Puzo. It is also a story that won’t quit and I couldn’t stop reading. Falco brought me back to a world I love and did it perfectly. As far as I’m concerned this is THE BOOK to buy in 2012.

This article is in the current issue of Crimespree Magazine available now.