The Godfather

Mario Puzo, Author, Joe Mantegna, Performed by
Mario Puzo, read by Joe Mantegna. Brilliance Audio, unabridged, 15 CDs, 18 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-4558-0966-0
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
The deck’s stacked against this audio adaptation of the novel that inspired one of the most acclaimed feature films of all time. The powerful visual imagery at the end of Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation of Puzo’s novel—the alternating between a baptism and coordinated hits on rival mob bosses—is so indelible that any other depiction must suffer in comparison. Hearing any narrator read that a character “put three bullets” in another’s chest just can’t hold a candle to seeing it, at least as Coppola filmed the scene. Ditto for the shocker when a certain animal head turns up in a certain character’s bed. However, that’s not to say that narrator Joe Mantegna’s reading is at fault. Turning in compelling and nuanced performance, Mantegna’s gravelly-voiced Don Corleone is close enough to Marlon Brando’s not to jar, and the narrator (who appeared in The Godfather: Part III) also pulls off female voices effectively. More notably, despite his decades of voicing a parodistic mobster on The Simpsons, Mantegna’s use of different accents and modes of speech insures that his characterizations never come across as stereotypical. A Signet paperback. (Mar.)
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