• Publication date: September 17, 2009

The Godfather The Godfather

Widely cited as one of the three greatest films of all-time, “The Godfather” ...

Widely cited as one of the three greatest films of all-time, “The Godfather” is the quintessential American mobster movie. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 epic became the template for countless Italian-American mafia stories that would follow. Audiences have continually been fascinated by the alluring world existing just below the surface of legitimate society, where men wield enormous power, and scenes of familial affection are often followed by moments of cold and brutal violence. Coppola’s film is an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, written three years earlier. It took in over $100 million worldwide and permanently established Coppola’s reputation as one of America’s top filmmakers. Marlon Brando, for his portrayal of mob boss—and “Godfather”—Don Vito Corleone, won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Equally notable is Al Pacino, who makes his first appearance in a major film, as the Don’s son and heir apparent, Michael Corleone. When the film opens, Michael is a young man who has just returned home after serving in World War II. Because of his extended absence, Michael has not been involved in the family’s business, and sees himself as separate from their criminal activities. Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), as a representative of the rival Tattaglia family, pays a visit to Don Corleone to discuss financing and protection for a drug smuggling operation. Don Vito balks at the idea and decides to send his henchman, Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana), to look in on Sollozzo’s organization. But while on his mission, Brasi’s presence is discovered and he is strangled to death. Shortly after, Don Corleone is shot in an attempted assassination. With his father lying in the hospital, and the situation now made personal, Michael is forced to take over the reigns of the family business in the midst of an all-out mob war. Can he hope to eventually turn the family business legit as he had envisioned, or is he already in too deep? While “The Godfather” is appropriately set with 1940s saloon cars and tommy guns, the film quality is distinctly 1970s, with lots of sharp browns and grays. These scenes of inner city Italian-American life are accompanied by the gloomily evocative music of the Italian composer and Federico Fellini associate, Nino Rota (La Dolce Vita, 8 ½). This movie is rated R for its violence and strong adult language.