I know it was you, Fredo

I thought we could use a little bit of levity on this cold and rainy first Monday of October. And I also wanted to share a little bit more from my recent trip down to Cape May, but first, I should probably set this up a bit for you. Perhaps one of my all-time favorite movies – scratch that – undoubtedly my favorite movie of all time is Mario Puzo’s The Godfather (1972).

I know what you’re thinking, “a guy named Gino saying his favorite movie is The Godfather, how original!” Believe me, I could hear your eyes’ rolling as I write this. But my reasons for loving the movie are the very reasons why it’s been considered one of the greatest movies in American cinema history. Sure, it’s a great mob flick and probably the Padrino of all the modern-day movies of the same genre that follow it. However, it’s also very different. Could you imagine a mobster movie being made today, chronicling a prominent New York crime family without the utterance of a single profanity? Director Francis Ford Coppola created iconic, powerful scenes focusing more on the dynamic of the immigrant family – than say the more commonplace and played out ‘shoot’em up,’ profanity laced mob movies that have become far more prominent. He created realistic, complex characters and artfully told the story of the struggle many faced to carve out a piece of the American Dream in depression era America. I’d argue – along with many others – that it was more a tale of family that happened to take place in a mob world, than a mob movie that happened to portray a family. But enough of that – not trying to play film critic here!

So, what does any of this have to do with anything? Well – while on my trip down in Cape May, I came across a beautiful Tudor home. I love the Tudor style, and every time I see one, I can’t help but think of the Corleone home from The Godfather.

Here, you can see a photograph I took of that lovely home…

Tudor style home in Cape May, NJ

In the movie, the Corleone family resides in Long Beach, NY – an ocean front town on Long Island’s south shore in Nassau County. However, the actual home that was used for the shoot of the movie was in Staten Island, NY.

Below, you can see a present-day view of the actual home, who’s exterior remains largely unchanged from the way it looked 50 years ago! The Tudor which was built in 1930 and sits toward the end of a cul-de-sac at 110 Longfellow Avenue sold for $2.4 million in 2016 according to public records.

The Corleone compound, featured in The Godfather can be found at 110 Longfellow Avenue in Staten Island, NY.

Now, that’s not the only bit of Godfather history I happened to come upon while down in Cape May. On our way down, my girlfriend and I stopped in Philadelphia to see a show and stayed in Penn’s Landing – a waterfront that sits across from Camden, NJ, nestled between the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Walt Whitman Bridge. There’s a nice stretch of bars and restaurants along the waterfront, along with a park, a maritime museum of sorts and a few docked tall ships. It really is a pretty site, both during the day and at night.

Penn’s Landing, PA
Penn’s Landing, PA

Well, as luck would have it – one of those tall ships happened to be The Moshulu, a majestic four masted ship that was built in 1904. Originally a German vessel, it was seized by the United States in 1917 during World War I. Later, the US would sell the ship to Finland where it would remain in service until 1947 primarily carrying grain and cargo. In the 50’s it remained mostly at port where it was used as a grain warehouse – that is until it was sold to a group of American investors in 1970 and towed back to the South Street Seaport in New York.

The Moshulu, Penn’s Landing, PA

So, why was I so giddy to learn the Moshulu was now docked just steps from our hotel? Why did I drag my girlfriend down so that we could see this great tall ship – which I photographed from multiple angles both during the day and at night? Obviously, it must be The Godfather connection. You see, it wasn’t just I that was lucky that the ship was brought back to the US. It was also Francis Ford Coppola that lucked out too, because back in 1974 – this very ship became an iconic movie star in its own right when it was used during the filming of The Godfather Part II. It can be seen during the scenes when a young Vito Corleone emigrates to the United States and arrives at Ellis Island.

A young Vito Corleone
The Moshulu in The Godfather Part II
Immigrant arrivals to Ellis Island, filmed aboard the Moshulu in Godfather Part II

Shortly after the filming of the movie, the ship was brought to Philadelphia, where it also made a brief cameo in the movie Rocky (1976). The ship can be seen as Rocky Balboa runs along the Philadelphia waterfront during his workout montage. The ship has operated as a restaurant since 1975. Below are some additional pictures that I took during my trip.

The Moshulu – lit up at night, currently operating as a restaurant in Penn’s Landing, PA
A broadside view of the ship

Overall, a highly successful little weekend getaway! We had gorgeous weather and managed to stop over and experience some movie history before spending a couple days down at the beach. Thank you to those who decided to indulge me a little bit on this Monday as I geeked out a bit on a tall ship – but come on, how cool is that?! The ship really does have a very interesting history and there are a lot more fun tidbits that I wasn’t able to get to here. If you’d like to know more about The Moshulu, visit www.moshulu.com.

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