Francis Ford Coppola's epic masterpiece features Marlon Brando in his OscarŠ-winning role as the patriarch of the Corleone family. Director Coppola paints a chilling portrait of the Sicilian clan's rise and near fall from ... more »power in America, masterfully balancing the story between the Corleone's family life and the ugly crime business in which they are engaged. Based on Mario Puxo's best-selling novel and featuring career-making performances by Al Pacino, James Cann and Robert Duvall, this searing and brilliant film garnered ten Academy AwardŽ nominations, and won three including Best Picture of 1972.« less
"I stumbled across this classic on cable TV a few evenings ago and that was it: I abandoned all other plans for the evening and watched the movie. Then I retrieved Mario Puzo's novel from my book collection and plowed through it, savoring and relishing this extraordinary piece of literature that had such an impact on our cultural landscape thirty-plus years ago.Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER is a triumphant, magnificent screen portrayal of Puzo's epic book. The story of an Italian-American mob "family" entrenched in inherent and often desperate violence, Coppola weaves this film with compelling, moving, and haunting visuals that are as beautiful as they are disturbing. The scenes are at once simplistic and complex, yet such a dichotomy is not lost on the viewer, but embraced--appreciated for its overwhelming genius.I've seen more than my fair share of Marlon Brando films, and in my opinion the character of Don Vito Corleone is this actor's signature role. Brando effectively portrays the Godfather's compassion, love and devotion to his family, and calm acumen to make "business" decisions that literally mean life or death to countless men. Don Vito is both a family man and a killer: two seemingly inconsistent characteristics that make Brando's portrayal even more remarkable. The rest of the cast, including James Caan and Robert Duvall, is exceptional, but it is Al Pacino as young Michael Corleone--Don Vito's "baby boy" who was not meant to enter the family business--who provides the most telling role in this film. Before our very eyes, we see Michael change from a man eager to remain at arms-length to the Corleone family ventures to a ruthless, cold-blooded Godfather himself--a transformation both astounding and eery. THE GODFATHER is a feast of unforgettable cinematic moments: from an ambush at a toll booth to a bloody horse head wrapped in satin sheets. Puzo's story is told--told through filmmaking as good as it gets.
One of the best ever made
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 11/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the greatest films ever made. Any doubt about that can be dispelled by watching the movie. I missed this when it first came out, and then a curious thing happened. For some reason I thought I had seen the film. One decade and then two went by and I kept hearing what a great film The Godfather was. But I was unimpressed because I thought I had seen it.
I don't know what film I had seen, but it wasn't The Godfather. Seeing this film for the first time over thirty years after the fact of its production is a startling experience. The Godfather is a work of art from first scene to last. There is the most amazing adherence to that fiction which is truer than fact.
I would like to say that I played cards with Mario Puzo who wrote the novel from which the film was adapted and who famously worked with Coppola on the screenplay, but in fact I only played cards with some people who had played cards with Puzo. Ah, such is the effect of celebrity. Puzo became like Coppola something of a legend after this film was produced, and everybody suddenly knew him or played cards with him. Everybody, from the most unsophisticated celluloid fan to the most erudite and jaded critic had walked out of that theater after 171 minutes mesmerized and delighted and emotionally moved by an uncompromising look at not just a Mafia family, but the psychology of families since time immemorial. The truth that we have all lived and experienced was made large on the screen in the form of the Corleones. I can guarantee you that audiences from every culture on the planet would understand the underlying psychology of this movie and take it to some serious extent as their own.
Marlon Brando plays the godfather (the patriarch, of course, or even the warlord if you like) of the past and the present, and then, as must always be the case, comes a new godfather. What is fascinating is who this new godfather is and how he comes to power. The ending of the film is--after so many brilliant scenes and so many psychologically true surprises and so many excursions to Queens and the Bronx and Sicily and Las Vegas (each vignette absolutely integrated into the story of the film)--even more ponderously true and a surprise that sneaks up on us so stealthily that it is not a surprise. And when the credits begin to run after Diana Keaton's tears of realization, we too realize the "message" of the film. It is a message that I think would be understood in the Middle East today (and two thousand years ago as well) as I write this, a message of tribal ways and the rise and fall of warlords and the Machiavellian machinations of the prince who would be king.
But it is Al Pacino's performance as the son of the godfather that in the final analysis steals the show as he goes from the intellectual boy who would be a legitimate American success at the finest colleges, etc. to a man wearing the hat of Al Capone. And Pacino makes us believe every step of the way.
Well, I should not say that it Al Pacino who steals the show. In truth this is Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece. He would not have the film he has without Al Pacino or Marlon Brandon and certainly not without the novel and script from Mario Puzo, of course; but make no mistake about it. Coppola manicured every scene. He attended to every detail, from the color of the wine to the tires on the cars to the dances and the music to the villas abroad to the sleaze of Las Vegas to the perfect casting of the main characters right down to the extras including both cute and not so cute kids, as indeed life would give us. In some very real sense Coppola lived this movie and it was a part of him, and yet I am stuck by the fact that Puzo invented it.
This is an American classic, an uncompromising work of art that engages, informs and moves the audience--just about any audience--to ask the great questions regarding who we are and what we should do and how we should live. From the wedding to the funeral to the christening to the priest in Latin voice-over as the final vengeance is planned to that final vengeance (that we know will NOT be the final vengeance), we are glued to our seats as the life of human beings (who could very well be us) passes before our transfixed eyes.
Oscars went to Brando as best actor, and to Puzo and Coppola for best screen adaptation. In a rare show of almost universal agreement among movie goers, critics, and the Academy, The Godfather won the Oscar as Best Picture in 1972.
Don't miss this as I had for so long, and see it for Coppola who can take his place among the greats of all cinema for this film alone.
This is one of my two favorite movies of all time.
David Zampino | Delavan, Wisconsin | 08/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rarely does a film manage to express the power of a novel from which it was based -- but "The Godfather" does manage to do quite well. Realizing that the entire second section of the novel could not be fit into the movie (but was cleverly woven into "The Godfather, part 2") Puzo and Coppola produced a film which was remarkably consistent with the remainder of the book (although there are a few 'jumps' in the plot which make more sense to someone also familiar with the book). The cast for this picture could not possibly be better -- both in the first-rate Hollywood actors AND in the on-location Sicilian actors selected for those portions of the movie filmed on that island. Brando is perfect as the aging Don, Pacino portrays the inherently moral but tormented Michael extremely well, Caan is ideal as the hotheaded Sonny, and Robert Duvall, in the best role of his career, is splendid as Tom Hagen. (And I loved Simonetta Stefanelli as Apollonia)! In addition to the writing and the casting, the filming and cinematography was also excellent. Who could ever forget Sonny's murder at the toll booth? And the baptism scene? Classic filmmaking at its best. I can't recommend this picture highly enough -- although I would strongly encourage the reading and re-reading of the novel as well."
Better Get the Collection
James N. Smith | Memphis, TN United States | 07/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"So many reviews rate the film itself which we already know is a classic, but few give any comments on the quality of the DVD. The Paramount Widescreen Collection of this film is indeed a very bad transfer which becomes quite evident in the first scene which is almost incomprehensible because it is so dark as to render the subtle performance of Brando unviewable. On my DVD I couldn't even access the bonus track with the commentary. Fortunately I only spent $15 for it, but it really fueled my desire to see the collection which everyone raves about, eventhough I could care less for GF III."
One of the landmark films in American film history
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 06/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A host of factors make this one of the greatest American films. First, the directing is impeccable. Coppola allows the story to unfold simply, employing for the most part a static, immobile camera, allowing each scene to unfold like a series of tableaux. Second, the cinematography. Most of the craft of the cinematography went into the lighting, which generates some of the greatest use of light and shadows since the demise of black and white film noir. Coppola also intensifies each scene by using surprisingly little music in the film. Although the film is famous for its outstanding score by Nina Rota (later discovered to have been partially reused from an obscure film he scored in the late 1950s in Italy, which led to his nomination for an Oscar to be withdrawn, an award he certainly would have won), the fact is that the music is used selectively and comparatively rarely. Silence engulfs most of the scenes. And although there are many famous lines in the film, it is driven as much by the silence between the characters as by what they say. Also accounting for the brilliance of the film is the script, which is brilliant for its simplicity. Coppola distills the tale down to only the most essential elements, with nearly every shot moving the story along or imparting a crucial piece of information to the viewer, allowing the crucial tensions of the story to unfold early on. The enormous simplicity in the telling of the tale makes the more complex moments?for instance, the crosscutting during the baptismal scene?all that much more effective. And any listing of all the reasons for the brilliance of the film leaving out the extraordinary art design would be woefully incomplete. This was one of the first films made that made historical accuracy a high art form, and has exerted a profound influence on any historical film since then.Of course, one of the main reasons this is a great, great film is the acting. Few films have ever featured so many memorable performances, and no film had featured so many performances by so many actors who were explicitly Italian. In fact, the film was a ?coming out? for one aspect of Italian culture in the United States. Even in films that were fairly transparently about the Mafia and crime families in New York and Chicago, ethnicity was completely left out of the picture. After THE GODFATHER, everything changed. The film was Marlon Brando?s triumphant return to star status after a series of failures, garnering a well-served Oscar that he turned down. The quality of the acting is shown by the fact that no less than three of the other actors?Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and James Caan?received nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Joel Grey won for CABERET, in what might have been the greatest group of performances in the history of Oscar for the award). There are a million stories that whirl around THE GODFATHER. My favorite, and one of the happier accidents in casting history, was that originally Robert De Niro was cast in a small part in THE GODFATHER. Al Pacino, on the other hand, was wanted for the part of Michael Corleone, but was already obligated for the film BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY. Francis Ford Coppola worked out a deal whereby De Niro would replace Pacino in the one picture. Unfortunately/fortunately this meant that De Niro was unable to be in THE GODFATHER, which meant that he was free to appear in THE GODFATHER II as the young Vito Corleone. THE GODFATHER was a film where just about everything seemed to work out best for all involved, and this illustrates this perfectly."