Hidden Gems is a series bringing to light little known filmic gems and rarities that have somehow managed to slip through the collective cinematic consciousness. You’re welcome.
There have been some great films made about the Mafia. Analyze That, Oscar, Billy Bathgate. It’s impossible to measure the profound effect those classics have had on the genre but way back in the early 70s, a small time director called Francis Ford Coppola was living on stale bread dipped in week old pasta sauce and attempting to make the ultimate mobster movie.
As it turned out, he accidentally ended up making the most expensive wedding video of all time but you can understand his decision to push the gangster stuff into the background. Brando turned up on set mumbling with his cheeks full of cotton wool after slicing his gums when he put a whole pie in his mouth and forgot to take it off the plate. Then they couldn’t get Redford or Nicholson to play the lead role of Michael so at the last minute Francis grabbed a random hippy called Al Pacino off the street, strategically shaved him and pushed the poor guy in front of a camera.
It’s difficult to find a review of the film online but after days of searching I found one reference in the Maryland Chronicle that describes Pacino’s performance as being like “A girl getting fingered for the first time in the back of her boyfriend’s Buick”. In hindsight that was a little unfair on Al but that one review knocked his confidence and he faded into obscurity. Rumour has it he’s now running a car rental business in the Bahamas.
Anyway, it’s well shot and the soundtrack is catchy enough. It would probably have worked better as a TV movie rather than a full-length feature and it’s a shame Coppola never got to make a sequel. If you’d like to buy a copy it’s only available on VHS but there’s a Facebook Campaign to get it released on DVD. The page only has 13 likes though so you might be waiting a while.
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