The Long Don
The Clericuzio and Santadio family have been sworn enemies for a long time, so when Don Domenico Clericuzio's (Danny Aiello) daughter Rose Marie (Emily Hampshire/Kirstie Alley) comes to him and says she is in love with Jimmy Santadio (Bruno Campos) he forbids it. When the Don's youngest Silvio (Quinn Duffy) tries to intervene and ends up gunned down by two Santadio brothers. Whilst it seems the Don has had enough of the trouble and permits Rose Marie and Jimmy to marry he refuses to attend, sending only his nephew Pippi (Joe Mantegna) to represent the family and after the ceremony is over the Clericuzio family storm the Santadio mansion killing the entire family only sparing Rose Marie who is pregnant. 25 years later and with the Don now in his eighties it is Rose Marie's son Dante (Rory Cochrane) and Pippi's son Cross (Jason Gedrick) who are the blood of the family but there is bad blood especially as Cross is not into the bloody side of the family and Dante is after the power of the Don.
It's no "The Godfather", but then what movie is? It is inevitable that people compare "The Last Don" to "The Godfather" not just because they are both gangster movies but "The Last Don" was also written by Mario Puzo. Unfortunately whilst you can see the Mario Puzo touch in the way the story evolves and the characters it lacks the power and the ability to keep your attention for its entire duration. That maybe down to the fact that not only is this a TV production but one which when watched in one hit comes in at a frightening 262 minutes, yes nearly four and a half hours. Having done what I call "The Last Don" endurance test I suggest anyone considering watching it to do it over two nights.
Anyway as to what you get in "The Last Don", well sprawling is the right term as it starts with death, sees the birth of the next generation and follows them through to them becoming part of the family. There is betrayal, a child struggling with the business of killing, a mother who is troubled having been around the business and seen her loved ones executed and plenty more including the wisdom of the Don as he can see what is going to happen if business is not taken care off. There is no denying it is an entertaining drama with lots of twists and turns along with typical mob movie aspects.
But as I said it lacks that something which makes it really grip you, that power and style which draws you in and keeps you entertained rather than thinking that your backside is starting to go numb. It is a shame as it features a nice cast and Danny Aiello is well cast as the don whilst Joe Mantegna is perfectly cast as his main man. In fact the cast is one of the most impressive things about "The Last Don".
What this all boils down to is that "The Last Don" is for me split in two and on one side there is this terrific sprawling story which is enjoyable for fans of gangster movies. But on the other here is a movie/ mini series which not only is exceptionally long but lacks the grand style and visual power to make it the triumph the story deserves to be.