In light of the recent untimely passing of James Gandolfini, I could not help but contrast his character Tony Soprano with the cinematic mafiosi of earlier times, especially the main characters of Sam Francis' and Pat Buchanan's favorite "The Godfather". In many ways, Tony Soprano was a broken man, like Gandolfini himself. After all, could one imagine Don Vito Corleone breaking down in tears numerous times, resorting to the help of a psychotherapist, and getting bogged down in household tasks? Not to say that Don Vito and Michael Corleone were robots - they displayed emotion when appropriate, but didn't come across as broken middle aged men beset by panic attacks and a middle life crisis. The reason Godfather III was such a gigantic flop was mainly because Michael Corleone was portrayed as a forever sick, dispirited, and altogether defeated individual beset with regret and guilt. Indeed, one is hard-pressed to recall a recent onscreen mobster who matches Vito and Michael Corleone. Even the characters of that other great mob hit "Goodfellas" are mere caricatures of the Corleones.
Eugene Girin is a New York-based attorney and commentator.