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Showing how the BBC and anti-capitalist bias go hand in hand

My friend Bernie emailed me with the link to this short Radio Times film review of The Godfather, shown last night on Channel 5. Spot the anti-capitalist bit.

This crime drama and its 1974 sequel are among American cinema’s finest achievements since the Second World War.

The production problems are well documented — how Paramount wanted a quickie, how Francis Ford Coppola came cheap and how he turned the picture into an epic success, a box-office hit that was also an artistic triumph.

His first masterstroke was casting Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton, four relative unknowns and one known risk; his next masterstroke was to keep cool under fire, like Michael Corleone himself, turning Mario Puzo’s pulp novel into art and showing how capitalism and crime go hand in hand.

It’s thrilling, romantic, tense and scary – a five-course meal that leaves you hungry for more.

“… capitalism and crime go hand in hand.” Another of those implied solutions that dare not spell itself out clearly. Wanna get rid of crime? Rub out capitalism. But if thus challenged, the anti-capitalist replies: “but I never said that”. If unchallenged (which is how most readers will get the message), he did say it.

This is why we need our own publications, to edit out sneaky little innuendoes like that, and to insert our own.

It would be truer to say that the legal creation of victimless crimes goes hand in hand with crime, and that the state (a) claiming a universal monopoly in the supply of law and order but then (b) not supplying it anything like universallly goes hand in hand with crime.

Will this get a link from Biased BBC?

20 comments to Showing how the BBC and anti-capitalist bias go hand in hand

  • Crime and criminal law systems go together. If you really want to have no crime, simply eliminate all criminal laws. It won’t make people cease committing burglary and armed assault, but they won’t be commiting crimes any more when they do.


  • Guy Herbert

    Interesting too, that the unnamed reviewer seems to think the trite thesis s/he imputes to Coppola is what makes the film art, not the fabulous staging, character delineation, and storytelling.

    One’s also inclined to ask: why so sniffy about Mario Puzo’s original novel? Surely the insights into crime as a family business and this immigrant success story as nightmare version of the American Dream–that s/he perversely reads as a universal slur on capitalism–are present in the book too? Could it be that popular commercial fiction can’t be art or contain interesting ideas? A long film by an auteur must have a meritorious message, even if you need to invent it. It can’t be just a well-made film.

    [Interest declaration: I used to work for Puzo– indirectly and in a minor capacity, but his books put food on my table for a couple of years.]

  • Barry

    Well, just looking at current disclosures about the EU Parliament’s corruption, the UN Food for Palaces program and so on it seems as if Crime is in the Eye of The Beholder!

  • Verity

    Marlon Brando was a “relative unknown” in 1974? Is that why it was considered such a coup for Coppola to have persuaded this star to come temporarily out retirement in Tahiti to make the movie? This eerie emptiness from someone who is being paid to write about movies? I mean, the man’s a legend. He wuz a contendah…

  • Another example of anti free market thinking is this laughable article in the Independent, here.

    It is appropriately “Fisked” at Prairiepundit.

  • Verity

    I think Brando was the “known risk”, and that Pacino, Caan, Duvall and Keaton were the relative unknowns.

  • Brian M: Yes it will. Mr Briffa has already obliged.

    Stephen D.B: Your comment smacks too much of logic-chopping, in my opinion. While it is true that if “crime” is defined as “that which breaks the law” then no laws would cause no crime, there is also a perfectly common-sense use of the word “crime” that refers to the breaking of moral principles. It’s harder to define neatly, but I know perfectly well that burglary and armed assault are crimes by that definition – and judging from your writing, you do too.

    I am sure that you can think of many examples from history where people committed horrendous crimes without breaking any law. Slavery comes to mind.

  • Verity

    Brian. Oh.

  • Jim Bennett

    I agree with Guy that Puzo’s book was not mere pulp fiction, and I have no even indirect financial interest in the matter. Puzo had written several excellent mainstream novels on the Italian immigrant experience in America (The Fortunate Pilgrim, for example, which was alos made into a film) before he decided to write a novel with broader popular appeal. The strong narrative structure of the novel was the framework on which the film was hung and is one of the reasons for the film’s success.

  • D Anghelone

    I wouldn’t doubt that Coppola would intend to portray crime and capitalism as going hand-in-hand.

  • I don’t know if Biased BBC will link to it but I will over at (Link) This is just the kind of subliminal brain washing the SCBBC (“so-called BBC) is good at. Slick and subtle.

  • Natalie: Whoosh! RIGHT over her head!

    [I was not serious…]

  • Susan

    Verity: Brando hit the skids in the mid-Sixties, partially in response to his reputation as a difficult and temperamental actor; partially because he started to lose the muscular sexiness he exuded in the ’50s. By the early 70s he was an overweight, balding has-been. “The Godfather” was a come-back vehicle that he played for all it was worth. He was only in his early 40s at the time but looked much older.

  • Steven,

    I wrote your name with a ph, too.

  • Jake

    More proof that BBC is the acme of bad journalism.

    Robert Evans, the producer of The Godfather and head of Paramount, said that Coppola’s first cut was dull and lifeless and an hour too short. Coppola wanted to do a cheap quickie. Paramount wanted an epic. BBC is wrong again.

    Evans told Coppola that The Godfather shouldn’t be a story about crime it should be a story about the family.
    Coppola did not want to make the changes so Evans threatened to fire him. Coppola decided to follow Evans instructions and the epic was made.

  • Verity

    Jake: “… the BBC is the acme of bad journalism.”

    This should be chipped in stone above the entrance to Broadcasting House and engraved on all their stationery. Very tidy encapsulation.

  • mike

    “…crime and capitalism go hand in hand”

    Which, of course, is why there was no crime in Soviet Russia… Honest!!!

    Barking moonbats…

  • I noticed this outragous review. The guardianist Beeb strickes again!

  • Raj


    According to Coppola’s commentary on the Godfather DVD he had been told he would loose control of the editing if his first cut was over 115 minutes.

    He produced a version that was about 160 minutes, thought this would cause him to loose control so then sent a version of about 120 minutes which was totally plot driven thinking this would allow him to loose control.

    Evans, to his credit, realised this would cause the film to loose its’ grandeur & said put in more of the character stuff but then insisted on the editing being done in house at LA.

    Coppola moved to LA & basically added in all the stuff he’d taken out to make the movie 120 minutes long.

    As to the actual arguement , I think it’s fair to say that the movie does try to convey the mafia as basically another business , but one that uses murder as a tool rather than hardball business tactics.

    In the 3rd movie this is very explicit when the real villains are the bankers for the vatican.

  • Raj

    Obviously that should read “thinking this would allow him to keep control” not loose control.