Show Business: What Is The Godfather Saying?

After the first hurrahs for The Godfather, critical reaction to the movie has snagged on a few key questions. Does it revel in Hollywood gangster melodrama? Does it sentimentalize the Mafia? Does it present the Mob as a metaphor for all business or politics? One of TIME's cinema critics gives his assessment:

"I believe in America."

Those opening words, heard over a black screen, are a testament and a plea—not so much a pledge of allegiance to an adopted country as an obeisance to a shadow government of profound power. An Italian immigrant funeral...

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