The Godfather

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The Godfather

theatrical poster
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by Albert S. Ruddy
Written by Novel:
Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
Francis Ford Coppola
Robert Towne
Starring Marlon Brando
Al Pacino
James Caan
Richard S. Castellano
Robert Duvall
Sterling Hayden
John Marley
Richard Conte
Diane Keaton
Music by Nino Rota
Carmine Coppola
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Editing by William H. Reynolds
Peter Zinner
Marc Laub[1]
Murray Solomon[1]
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) 15 March 1972 (US)
Running time 175 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6,500,000 [2]
Gross revenue $245,066,411 (worldwide)
Followed by The Godfather Part II

The Godfather is an American 1972 crime drama film based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola, and Robert Towne, who was not credited.[3] It stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte and Diane Keaton, and features John Cazale and Abe Vigoda. The story spans ten years from 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the fictional Italian-American Corleone crime family.

The Godfather received Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In addition, it is ranked as the second greatest film in American cinematic history, behind Citizen Kane on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) list by the American Film Institute.[4]

Two sequels followed The Godfather: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.


[edit] Plot

In late summer 1945, guests are gathered for the wedding reception of Don Vito Corleone's daughter Connie and Carlo Rizzi. Vito (Marlon Brando), the head of the Corleone Mafia family – who is known to friends and associates as "Godfather" – and Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the Corleone family lawyer and consigliere (counselor), are hearing requests for favors because "no Sicilian can refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day". Meanwhile, the Don's youngest son Michael (Al Pacino), a decorated Marine war hero returning from World War II service, tells his girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) anecdotes about his family, attempting to inform her about his father's criminal life; he reassures her that he is different from his family. Among depicting the marriage of Connie and Carlo, the wedding scene also serves as a critical exposition scene for the remainder of the film, as Michael figuratively introduces the main characters to Kay.

Among the guests at the celebration is the famous singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino), Corleone's godson, who has come from Hollywood to petition Vito's help in landing a movie role that will revitalize his flagging career. Jack Woltz (John Marley), the head of the studio, denies Fontane the part, but Don Corleone explains to Johnny: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." Hagen is dispatched to California to fix the problem, but Woltz angrily tells him that he will never cast Fontane in the role, for which he is perfect and will make him an even bigger star, because Fontane seduced and "ruined" a starlet that Woltz favored. Woltz is persuaded otherwise, however, when he wakes up early the next morning and feels something wet in his bed. He pulls back the sheets, and finds himself in a pool of blood with the severed head of his prized $600,000 stud horse, Khartoum, in the bed with him, and screams in horror.[5]

Upon Hagen's return, the family meets with Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), who is being backed by the rival Tattaglia family. He asks Don Corleone for financing, and political and legal protection for importing and distributing heroin. Despite the huge profit to be made, Corleone refuses, explaining that his political influence would be jeopardized by a move into the narcotics trade. The Don's eldest son, hotheaded Sonny (James Caan), who had earlier urged the family to enter into the narcotics trade, breaks ranks during the meeting and questions Sollozzo's assurances as to the Corleone Family's investment being guaranteed by the Tattaglia Family. His father, angry at Sonny's dissension in a non-family member's presence, privately rebukes him later. Don Corleone then dispatches Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) to infiltrate Sollozzo's organization and report back with information. During the meeting, whilst Brasi is bent over to allow Bruno Tattaglia to light his cigarette, he is stabbed in his hand to prevent him from defending himself, and is subsequently garroted by an assasin.

Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, the Godfather.

Soon after his meeting with Sollozzo, Don Corleone is gunned down in an assassination attempt, and it is not immediately known whether he has survived. Sollozzo abducts Tom Hagen and persuades him to offer Sonny the deal previously offered to his father. Enraged, Sonny refuses to consider it and issues an ultimatum to the Tattaglias – turn over Sollozzo or face war. They refuse, and instead send Sonny "a Sicilian message," in the form of a fresh fish wrapped in Luca Brasi's bullet-proof vest, to tell the Corleones that Luca Brasi is dead.

Michael, whom the other Mafia families consider a "civilian" uninvolved in mob business, visits his father at the small private hospital. He is shocked to find that no one is guarding him. Realizing that his father is again being set up to be killed, he calls Sonny for help, moves his father to another room, and goes outside to watch the entrance. Michael enlists help from Enzo the baker, who has come to the hospital to pay his respects. Together, they bluff away Sollozzo's men as they drive by. Police cars soon appear with the corrupt Captain McCluskey, who breaks Michael's jaw when he insinuates that Sollozzo paid McCluskey to set up his father. Just then, Hagen arrives with "private detectives" licensed to carry guns to protect Don Corleone, and he takes Michael home. Sonny responds by having Bruno Tattaglia, son and underboss of Don Phillip Tattaglia (Victor Rendina), killed.

Following the attempt on the Don's life at the hospital, Sollozzo requests a meeting with the Corleones, which Captain McCluskey will attend as Sollozzo's bodyguard. When Michael volunteers to kill both men during the meeting, Sonny and the other senior Family members are amused; however, Michael convinces them that he is serious and that killing Sollozzo and McCluskey is in the family's interest: "It's not personal. It's strictly business." Although police officers are usually off limits for hits, Michael argues that since McCluskey is corrupt and has illegal dealings with Sollozzo, he is fair game.

Before the meeting in an Italian restaurant, McCluskey frisks Michael for weapons and finds him clean. Michael excuses himself to go to the bathroom where he retrieves a planted revolver, and returning to the table, he fatally shoots Sollozzo, then McCluskey. Michael is sent to hide in Sicily, while the Corleone family prepares for all-out warfare with the Five Families who are united against the Corleones, as well as a general clampdown on the mob by the police and government authorities.

Back in New York City, Don Corleone returns home from the hospital and is distraught to learn that it was Michael who killed Sollozzo and McCluskey. Some months later, in 1948, Sonny severely beats Carlo Rizzi for brutalizing the pregnant Connie, and threatens to kill him if he ever abuses his sister again. An angry Carlo responds by plotting with Tattaglia and Don Emilio Barzini (Richard Conte), the Corleones' chief rivals, to have Sonny killed. Carlo again beats Connie in order to lure Sonny out. Furious, Sonny drives off alone to fulfill his threat. On the way, he is ambushed at a toll booth and shot to death in his car.

Rather than seek revenge for Sonny's killing, Don Corleone meets with the heads of the Five Families to negotiate a cease-fire. Not only is it draining all their assets and threatening their survival, but ending the conflict is the only way that Michael can return home safely. Reversing his previous decision, Vito agrees that the Corleone family will provide political protection for Tattaglia's traffic in heroin, as long as it is controlled and not sold to children. At the meeting, Don Corleone deduces that Don Barzini, not Tattaglia, was ultimately behind the mob war and Sonny's death.

In Sicily, Michael patiently waits out his exile, protected by Don Tommasino, an old family friend. Michael aimlessly wanders the countryside, accompanied by his ever-present bodyguards, Calo and Fabrizio. In a small village, Michael meets and falls in love with Apollonia Vitelli (Simonetta Stefanelli), the beautiful young daughter of a bar owner. They are soon married, but soon Michael's presence becomes known to Corleone enemies. As the couple is about to be moved to a safer location, Apollonia is killed when their car is bombed; Michael, who barely escapes alive, spots Fabrizio hurriedly leaving the grounds mere seconds before the explosion, implicating him in the assassination plot.

With his safety guaranteed, Michael returns home. More than a year later, he reunites with his former girlfriend Kay after a total of four years, three in Italy, and one in America. He tells her he wants them to be married. Although Kay is hurt that he waited so long to contact her, she accepts his proposal. With the Don semi-retired, Sonny dead, and middle brother Fredo (John Cazale) considered incapable of running the family business, Michael is now in charge; he promises Kay he will make the family business completely legitimate within five years.

Peter Clemenza (Richard S. Castellano) and Salvatore Tessio (Abe Vigoda), two Corleone Family caporegimes (captains) complain that they are being pushed around by the Barzini Family and ask permission to strike back, but Michael denies the request. He plans to move the family operations to Nevada and after that, Clemenza and Tessio may break away to form their own families. Michael further promises Connie's husband, Carlo, that he will be his right hand man in Nevada. Tom Hagen has been removed as consigliere and is now merely the family's lawyer, with Vito serving as consigliere. Privately, Hagen complains about his change in status, and also questions Michael about a new regime of "soldiers" secretly being built under Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui). Don Vito explains to Hagen that Michael is acting on his advice.

In Las Vegas Michael meets with casino boss Moe Greene (Alex Rocco). Michael offers to buy out Greene but is rudely rebuffed. Greene believes the Corleones are weak and that he can secure a better deal from Barzini. As Moe and Michael heatedly negotiate, Fredo sides with Moe. Afterward, Michael warns Fredo to never again "take sides with anyone against the family."

Michael returns home. In a private moment, Vito explains his expectation that the Family's enemies will attempt to murder Michael by using a trusted associate to arrange a meeting as a pretext for assassination. Vito also reveals that he had never really intended a life of crime for Michael, hoping that his youngest son would hold legitimate power as a senator or governor. Shortly after, Vito collapses and dies while playing with his young grandson Anthony in his orange grove. At the burial, Tessio conveys a proposal for a meeting with Barzini, which identifies Tessio as the traitor that Vito was expecting.

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen (left) and Al Pacino as Michael Corleone (right)

Michael arranges for a series of murders to occur simultaneously while he is standing godfather to Connie's and Carlo's newborn son at the church.

  • Don Stracci is gunned down along with his men in an elevator by Clemenza.
  • Moe Greene While having a massage, he is shot through the eye by an unknown assassin.
  • Don Cuneo is trapped in a revolving door and shot dead by Willi Cicci.
  • Don Tattaglia is assassinated in his bed, along with a prostitute, by Rocco Lampone and an unknown associate.
  • Don Barzini, along with his bodyguard and driver, are shot by Al Neri, disguised in his old police uniform.

After the baptism, Tessio believes he and Hagen are on their way to the meeting between Michael and Barzini that he has arranged. Instead, he is surrounded by Willi Cicci and other button men as Hagen steps away. Realizing that Michael has uncovered his betrayal, Tessio tells Hagen that he always respected Michael, and that his disloyalty "was only business." He asks if Tom can get him off for "old times' sake," but Tom says he cannot. Meanwhile, Michael confronts Carlo about Sonny's murder and forces him to admit his role in setting up the ambush. Michael assures Carlo he will not be killed, that his punishment is exclusion from all family business. He hands Carlo a plane ticket to exile in Las Vegas. However, when Carlo gets into a car headed for the airport, he is garroted to death by Clemenza, on Michael's orders.

Later, a hysterical Connie confronts Michael, accusing him of murdering Carlo. Kay questions Michael about Connie's accusation, but he refuses to answer, reminding her to never ask him about his business. She insists, and Michael lies, reassuring his wife that he played no role in Carlo's death. Kay believes him and is relieved. The film ends with Clemenza and new caporegimes Rocco Lampone and Al Neri paying their respects to Michael. Clemenza kisses Michael's hand and greets him as "Don Corleone." As Kay watches, the door is closed. Michael is the new Godfather.

[edit] Differences from the novel

One of the primary parts of Puzo's novel which was not used for the movie was the flashback story of Vito Corleone's earlier life, including the circumstances of his emigration to America, his early family life, his murder of Don Fanucci, and his rise in importance in the Mafia, all of which were later used in The Godfather Part II.

Many subplots were trimmed in the transition from the printed page to the screen, including: singer Johnny Fontane's misfortunes with women and his problems with his voice; a teenaged Sonny's impulsive dabbling in street crime and his utterly lacking the tact and coolheadedness possessed in such abundance by his father; Sonny's mistress, Lucy Mancini's new-found love in Dr. Jules Segal (a character entirely missing from the film), who not only assists in surgically repairing Lucy's vaginal malformation (a condition that allowed her to tolerate Sonny's excessively large penis) but he refers Michael to the surgeon who repairs Michael's facial disfigurement (resulting from Capt. McCluskey smashing his jaw), and also operated on Johnny Fontane's vocal cords, thus restoring his singing voice; Jack Woltz's increasing pedophilia; Kay Adams's home life and her brief separation from Michael; Luca Brasi's demonic past; the Corleone family's victorious rise to power in earlier New York gang wars in which Don Corleone survives a previous assassination attempt and Al Capone sends triggermen from Chicago in an unsuccessful attempt to aid a rival gang; disgraced former police officer Al Neri's recruitment as a Corleone hit man, Don Corleone's ingenious plan to bring Michael out of exile in Sicily; the detailed savage attack on the two men who assaulted the undertaker Bonasera's daughter, which was led by Paulie Gatto and involved retainer thugs (which was only alluded to in the film).

According to the book, Michael's reason to Sonny for his new-found aggression is, "They made it personal when they shot Pop. It is not business, it's personal"; but in the movie, he states his father's motto, "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business".

Additionally, the novel states that Lucy Mancini was not pregnant by Sonny when she moved to Las Vegas, thus leaving no room for her son, Vincent Mancini of The Godfather Part III.

Connie's confrontation with Michael over Carlo's death is also portrayed somewhat differently. Although she is initially distraught, accusing Michael of executing her husband as revenge for Sonny's brutal murder, in the book she apologizes to Michael a few days later, claiming she was mistaken, apparently glad to be rid of the abusive Carlo and that Sonny has been avenged. She also marries again less than a year later.

Characters with smaller roles in the film than in the novel include Johnny Fontane, Lucy Mancini, Rocco Lampone, and Al Neri (the last two are reduced to non-speaking roles). Characters dropped in the film adaptation besides Dr. Segal include Vito's terminally-ill consigliere, Genco Abbandando (only spoken of, he appears in a deleted scene featured in The Godfather Saga; he first appears on film in The Godfather II), family friend Nino Valenti, and Dr. Taza from Sicily. Also, in the book, Michael and Kay have two sons, but in the movies they have a son and a daughter.

The novel and film also differ on the fates of Michael's bodyguards in Sicily, Fabrizio and Calo. The film has them both surviving (Calo, in fact, appears in the third installment). In the book, however, it is implied that Calo dies along with Apollonia in the car explosion, and Fabrizio, implicated as an accomplice in the bombing, is shot and killed as one more victim in the famous "baptism scene" after he is tracked down running a pizza parlor in Buffalo. Fabrizio's murder was deleted from the film but publicity photos of the scene exist.[6] (He is later killed in a completely different scene in The Godfather Saga which was deleted from The Godfather Part II).

The book's ending differs from the movie: whereas in the film Kay suddenly realizes that Michael has become "like his family", the drama is toned down in the book. She leaves Michael and goes to stay with her parents. When Tom Hagen visits her there, he lets her in on family secrets for which, according to him, he would be killed should Michael find out what he has revealed. This is then followed by Kay's visit to the church, where she prays for her husband's soul.

[edit] Cast

[edit] Production

[edit] Coppola and Paramount

Francis Ford Coppola was not the first choice to direct. At least two other directors were approached first. Italian director Sergio Leone was offered the job, but he declined in order to direct his own gangster opus, Once Upon a Time in America, which focused on Jewish-American gangsters.[7] According to Robert Evans, head of Paramount Pictures at the time, Coppola also did not initially want to direct the film because he feared it would glorify the Mafia and violence, and thus reflect poorly on his Sicilian and Italian heritage; on the other hand, Evans specifically wanted an Italian-American to direct the film because his research had shown that previous films about the Mafia that were directed by non-Italians had fared dismally at the box office, and he wanted to, in his own words, "smell the spaghetti". When Coppola hit upon the idea of making it a metaphor for American capitalism, however, he eagerly agreed to take the helm.[8] At the time, Coppola had directed eight previous films, the most notable of which was the film version of the stage musical Finian's Rainbow — although he had also received an Academy Award for co-writing Patton in 1970.[9] Coppola was in debt to Warner Bros. for $400,000 following budget overruns on George Lucas's THX 1138, which Coppola had produced, and he took The Godfather on Lucas's advice.[10]

There was intense friction between Coppola and the studio, Paramount Pictures, and several times Coppola was almost replaced. Paramount maintains that its skepticism was due to a rocky start to production, though Coppola believes that the first week went extremely well. Paramount thought that Coppola failed to stay on schedule, frequently made production and casting errors, and insisted on unnecessary expenses. Coppola says he was shadowed by a replacement director, who was ready to take over if Coppola was fired, but despite such intense pressure, Coppola managed to defend his decisions and avoid being replaced.[11]

Paramount was in financial troubles at the time of production and so was desperate for a "Big Hit" to boost business, hence the pressure Coppola faced during filming. They wanted The Godfather to appeal to a wide audience and threatened Coppola with a "Violence coach" to make the film more exciting. Coppola added a few more violent scenes to keep the studio happy. The scene where Connie breaks crockery after finding out that her husband is playing around, was added for this reason.[11]

[edit] Casting

Coppola's casting choices were unpopular with studio executives at Paramount Pictures, particularly Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone. Paramount, which wanted Laurence Olivier (who could not take the part owing to health problems), originally refused to allow Coppola to cast Brando in the role, citing difficulties Brando had on recent film sets. One studio executive proposed Danny Thomas for the role citing the fact that Don Corleone was a strong "family man." At one point, Coppola was told by the then-president of Paramount that "Marlon Brando will never appear in this motion picture". After pleading with the executives, Coppola was allowed to cast Brando only if he appeared in the film for much less salary than his previous films, perform a screen-test, and put up a bond saying that he would not cause a delay in the production (as he had done on previous film sets).[12] Coppola chose Brando over Ernest Borgnine on the basis of Brando's screen test, which also won over the Paramount leadership. Brando later won an Academy Award for his portrayal, which he refused to accept.

The studio originally wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O'Neal to play Michael Corleone, but Coppola wanted an unknown who looked like an Italian-American, whom he found in Al Pacino.[11] Pacino was not well known at the time, having appeared in only two minor films, and the studio did not consider him right for the part,[12] in part because of his height. Pacino was given the role only after Coppola threatened to quit the production. Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Martin Sheen,[12] and James Caan also auditioned.[12]

Among those who auditioned for other parts were Bruce Dern, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, who were considered for the role of Tom Hagen that eventually went to Robert Duvall. Sylvester Stallone auditioned for Carlo Rizzi and Paulie Gatto, Anthony Perkins for Sonny, and Mia Farrow auditioned for Kay. William Devane was seen for the role of Moe Greene. Mario Adorf was approached for a role as well. A then-unknown Robert De Niro auditioned for the roles of Michael, Sonny, Carlo and Paulie Gatto. He was cast as Paulie, but Coppola arranged a "trade" with The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight to get Al Pacino from that film. De Niro later played the young Vito Corleone in Part II, winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role.

To some extent, The Godfather was a family affair for Francis Ford Coppola. Carmine Coppola, his father, who had a distinguished career as a composer, conductor and arranger, wrote additional music for the film and appeared in a bit part as a piano player, and Carmine's wife Italia Coppola was an extra. The director's sister Talia Shire was cast as Connie, and his infant daughter, Sofia, played Connie's and Carlo's newborn son, Michael Francis Rizzi, in the climactic baptism scene near the movie's end.[13] Coppola also cast his sons as Frank and Andrew Hagen, the two sons of Tom Hagen. They are seen in the Sonny-Carlo streetfight scene and behind Al Pacino and Robert Duvall during the funeral scene.

[edit] Star salaries

Al Pacino, James Caan and Diane Keaton each received $35,000 for their work on The Godfather, and Robert Duvall got $36,000 for eight weeks of work. Marlon Brando, on the other hand, was paid $50,000 for six weeks and weekly expenses of $1,000, plus 5% of the film, capped at $1.5 million. Brando later sold his points back to Paramount for $300,000.[14]

[edit] Filming

Most of the principal photography took place from 29 March 1971 to 6 August 1971, although a scene with Pacino and Keaton was shot in the autumn — there were a total of 77 days of shooting, fewer than the 83 for which the production had budgeted.

One of the movie's most shocking moments involved the real severed head of a horse. Animal rights groups protested the inclusion of the scene. Coppola later stated that the horse's head was delivered to him from a dog food company; a horse had not been killed specifically for the movie. This scene was shot in Port Washington, New York.[11][12]

In the novel, Jack Woltz, the movie producer whose horse's head is put in his bed, is also shown to be a pedophile as Tom Hagen sees a young girl (presumably one of Woltz's child stars) crying while walking out of Woltz's room. This scene was cut from the theatrical release but can be found on the DVD (though Woltz can still briefly be seen kissing the girl on the cheek in his studio in the film).

The shooting of Moe Green through the eye was inspired by the death of gangster Bugsy Siegel. To achieve the effect, actor Alex Rocco's glasses had two tubes hidden in their frames. One had blood in it, and the other had a BB and compressed air. When the gun was shot, the compressed air shot the BB through the glasses, shattering them from the inside. The other tube then released the blood.[citation needed]

The equally startling scene of McClusky's shooting was accomplished by building up a fake forehead on top of actor Sterling Hayden. A gap was cut in the center, filled with fake blood, and capped off with a plug of prosthetic flesh. During filming, the plug was quickly yanked out with monofilament fishing line, making a bloody hole suddenly appear in Hayden's head.

The opening scene of The Godfather is a long, slow zoom, starting with a close-up of the undertaker, Bonasera, who is petitioning Don Corleone, and ending with the Godfather, seen from behind, framing the scene. This zoom, which lasts for about three minutes, was shot with a computer-controlled zoom lens designed by Tony Karp.[15] The lens was also used in the making of Silent Running.[16]

[edit] Locations

Locations[17] around New York City and its environs were used for the film, including the then-closed flagship store of Best & Company on Fifth Avenue, which was dressed up and used for the scene in which Pacino and Keaton are Christmas shopping. At least one location in Los Angeles was used also (for the exterior of Woltz's mansion), for which neither Robert Duvall nor John Marley was available; in some shots, it is possible to see that extras are standing in for the two actors. A scene with Pacino and Keaton was filmed in the town of Ross, California. The Sicilian towns of Savoca and Forza d'Agrò outside of Taormina were also used for exterior locations. Interiors were shot at Filmways Studio in New York.

A side entrance to Bellevue Hospital was used for Michael's confrontation with police Captain McCluskey.[18] As of 2007, the steps and gate to the hospital were still there but victim to neglect.

The hospital interiors, when Michael visits his father there, were filmed at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary on 14th Street, in Manhattan, New York City.

The scene in which Don Barzini was assassinated was filmed on the steps of the New York State Supreme Court building on Foley Square in Manhattan, New York City.[19]

Two churches were used to film the baptism scene. The interior shots were filmed at Old St. Patrick's in New York. For the baptism, Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 was used, as were other Bach works for the pipe organ. The exterior scenes following the baptism were filmed at Mount Loretto Church in Pleasant Plains on Staten Island, New York. In 1973 much of Mount Loretto Church was destroyed in a fire. Only the façade and steeple of the original church remained, and were later incorporated into a new structure that was built to replace the structure destroyed in the fire.

The funeral scene was filmed at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens.[20]

[edit] Critical reception

The film is greatly respected among international critics and the public and is routinely listed as one of the greatest films ever made.[21] Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100% of 61 reviews were positive[22] and Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received a perfect average score of 100, based on 14 reviews.[23] It was voted greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly,[24] and is now ranked as the second greatest film in American cinematic history – behind Citizen Kane – by the American Film Institute.[4] In the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of international critics, The Godfather (along with The Godfather Part II) was ranked as the fourth best film of all time.[25] Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II were selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1990 and 1993, respectively.

The soundtrack's main theme by Nino Rota was also critically acclaimed; the main theme ("Speak Softly Love") is well-known and widely used. (See Score Controversy)

Stanley Kubrick believed that The Godfather was possibly the greatest movie ever made, and without question the best cast.[26]

[edit] Awards and honours

Academy Awards
1. Best Actor, Marlon Brando
2. Best Picture, Albert S. Ruddy
3. Best Adapted Screenplay, Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
Golden Globe Awards
1. Best Picture - Drama
2. Best Director, Francis Ford Coppola
3. Best Actor - Drama, Marlon Brando
4. Best Original Score, Nino Rota
5. Best Screenplay, Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
BAFTA Awards
1. Best Music, Nino Rota

The Godfather won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Writing (adapted screenplay) for Francis Coppola and Mario Puzo, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Marlon Brando, who declined to collect the award and sent Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather to the Oscars in his place to explain his reasons.[27] The film had been nominated for eight other Academy Awards.

The film won five Golden Globes, one Grammy, and numerous other awards.

[edit] Score controversy

Nino Rota's score was removed at the last minute from the list of 1973 Academy Award nominees when it was discovered that he had used the theme in Eduardo De Filippo's 1958 comedy Fortunella. Although in the earlier film the theme was played in a brisk, staccato and comedic style, the melody was the same as the love theme from The Godfather, and for that reason was deemed ineligible for an Oscar.[28] Despite this, The Godfather Part II won a 1974 Oscar for best original score, although it featured the same love theme that made the 1972 score ineligible.

[edit] Current rankings

  • The film is ranked as #1 on Metacritic's top 100 list,[29] and in the top 10 on Rotten Tomatoes' all-time best list.[30]
  • In 2002, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II reached #2 in Channel 4's "100 Greatest Films" poll.[31]
  • Entertainment Weekly named The Godfather the greatest film ever made.[24]
  • The Godfather was voted in at #1 in Empire Magazine's "500 Greatest Films Ever" poll in November 2008.[32]

[edit] American Film Institute

[edit] Cinematic influence

Although many films about gangsters had been made before The Godfather, Coppola's sympathetic treatment of the Corleone family and their associates, and his portrayal of mobsters as characters of considerable psychological depth and complexity[33] was hardly usual in the genre. This was even more the case with The Godfather Part II, and the success of those two films, critically, artistically and financially, opened the doors for more and varied depictions of mobster life, including films such as Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and TV series such as David Chase's The Sopranos.

The image of the Mafia as being a feudal organization with the Don being both the protector of the small fry and the collector of obligations from them to repay his services, which The Godfather helped to popularize, is now an easily recognizable cultural trope, as is that of the Don's family as a "royal family". (This has spread into the real world as well – cf. John Gotti  – the "Dapper Don", and his celebritized family.) This portrayal stands in contrast to the more sordid reality of lower level Mafia "familial" entanglements, as depicted in various post-Godfather Mafia fare, such as Scorsese's Mean Streets and Casino, and also to the grittier hard-boiled pre-Godfather films.

In the 1999 film Analyze This, which starred Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, many references are made both directly and indirectly to the Godfather. One dream scene is almost a shot by shot replica of the attempted assassination of Vito Corleone (Crystal playing the Don and De Niro playing Fredo). In the 1990 comedy The Freshman, Marlon Brando plays a role reminiscent of Don Corleone. And one of those most unlikely homages to this film came in 2004, when the PG-rated, animated family film Shark Tale was released with a storyline that nodded at this and other movies about the Mafia.

The 2005 Indian film Sarkar and many others, made by Ram Gopal Varma, with Amitabh Bachan in the lead role as a "Don" and his son Abhishek Bachan as the equivalent of Michael, is modeled on The Godfather with due credits appearing at the beginning of the film.

[edit] Adaptations

[edit] Chronological versions

In 1975, Coppola edited The Godfather and The Godfather Part II together for TV, putting the scenes in chronological order and adding some previously unseen footage, but also toning down the violence, sex, and profanity. It is rated TV-14. This version of the story was called The Godfather Saga. In 1981, Paramount released the Godfather Epic box set which combined parts I & II in chronological order, again with additional scenes not shown in theaters. In 1992, Coppola would again re-edit all three Godfather movies (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III) in chronological order dubbed The Godfather Trilogy 1901-1980. It was released on VHS and laserdisc in 1993 but has yet (as of 2008) to appear on DVD. The total run time for this version is 583 minutes (9 hours, 43 minutes). This version spanned five VHS tapes and incorporated new previously deleted scenes that had not been seen in The Godfather Saga. This set also included a sixth VHS tape: "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside" a making-of documentary.

[edit] Additional scenes

None of these releases contains all the additional scenes in one package. The Saga contains scenes not in the Epic or Trilogy, the Epic contains scenes not in the Saga or Trilogy, and the Trilogy contains scenes not in the Saga or the Epic. Fans have longed for a complete release of the entire series,[citation needed] though Francis Ford Coppola has stated that the films were meant to be seen in their original form and has not agreed (as of 2008) to a chronological release.

[edit] 2001 DVD release

The Godfather was released on DVD for the first time on 9 October 2001 as part of a DVD package called The Godfather DVD Collection.[34] The collection contained all three films with commentary from Francis Ford Coppola and a bonus disc that featured a 73-minute documentary from 1991 titled The Godfather Family: A Look Inside, plus a 1971 documentary. The package also contained deleted footage, including the additional scenes originally contained in The Godfather Saga; "Francis Coppola's Notebook" a look inside a notebook the director kept with him at all times during the production of the film; rehearsal footage; and video segments on Gordon Willis's cinematography, Nino Rota's and Carmine Coppola's music, Francis Ford Coppola, locations and Mario Puzo's screenplays. The DVD also held a Corleone family tree, a "Godfather" timeline, and footage of the Academy Award acceptance speeches.[35]

The restoration was confirmed by Francis Ford Coppola during a question-and-answer session for The Godfather Part III, when he said that he had just seen the new transfer and it was "terrific".

[edit] The Coppola Restoration

After a careful restoration of the aging first two movies, The Godfather movies were released on Blu-ray and DVD on 23 September 2008 under the title The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. The work was done by Robert A. Harris of the Film Preserve. The Blu-ray box set (four discs) includes high-definition extra features on the restoration and film. They are included on disc 5 of the DVD box set (five discs).

Other extras are ported over from Paramount's 2001 DVD release. There are slight differences between the repurposed extras on the DVD and Blu-ray sets, with the HD box having more content.[36]

Paramount lists the new (HD) extra features as:

  • Godfather World
  • The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't
  • …when the shooting stopped
  • Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather
  • The Godfather on the Red Carpet
  • Four Short Films on The Godfather
  • The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II
  • Cannoli
  • Riffing on the Riffing
  • Clemenza

The new DVD boxset was released on 2 June 2008 in Europe.[37] It has been rerated as a "15" by the BBFC.[38] It is unclear whether a chronological box set will be released.

  • Coppola restoration on Blu-ray (2008): End credit theme music (Godfather Part II) is missing the final (approx. 10 second) chord from film proper. This missing chord would be located immediately before the restoration credit music begins. Robert A. Harris has not publicly commented about this.

[edit] In popular culture

The Godfather along with the other films in the trilogy, had a strong impact on the public at large. Don Vito's line "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" was voted as the second most memorable line in cinema history in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute.[39]

Reports from Mafia trials and confessions suggest that Mafia families began a "real-life" tradition of paying respect to the family Don by kissing his ring, in imitation of the ending scene of the movie.[citation needed] There is no evidence of this custom being mentioned before the movie.

The scene in which a delivery is made of a pair of pants and bullet proof vest wrapped around a fish is explained to be an old Sicilian message, "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes". This expression has made it into widespread American parlance.

An indication of the continuing influence of The Godfather and its sequels can be gleaned from the many references to it which have appeared in every medium of popular culture in the decades since the film's initial release. That these homages, quotations, visual references, satires and parodies continue to pop up even now shows clearly the film's enduring impact. In the television show The Sopranos, Tony Soprano's topless bar is named Bada Bing after the line in The Godfather when Sonny says, "You've gotta get up close like this and bada-bing! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit."

Several television shows have contained references to the film, including the 1997 British film Twin Town, Arrested Development, Yes Dear, The Simpsons, The King of Queens, That '70s Show, and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law [40]

[edit] Video game

In March 2006, a video game version of The Godfather was released by Electronic Arts. Before his death, Marlon Brando provided voice work for Vito; however, owing to poor sound quality from Brando's failing health, only parts of the recordings could be used. A sound-alike's voice had to be used in the "missing parts". James Caan, Robert Duvall and Abe Vigoda lent their voices and likenesses as well, and several other Godfather cast members had their likeness in the game. However, Al Pacino's likeness and voice (Michael Corleone) was not in the game as Al Pacino sold his likeness and voice exclusively for use in the Scarface video game. Francis Ford Coppola said in April 2005 that he was not informed and did not approve of Paramount allowing the game's production, and openly criticized the move.[41]

[edit] References

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b Allmovie Production credits
  2. ^ Francis Ford Coppola's commentary on the 2008 DVD edition "The Godfather - The Coppola Restoration"
  3. ^ Kenneth Turan, Robert Towne's Hollywood Without Heroes, New York Times (November 27, 1988)
  4. ^ a b American Film Institute "Citizen Kane Stands the test of Time"
  5. ^ A deleted scene from the film implies that Luca Brasi, Vito's top "button man" or hitman, is responsible.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Frayling, Christopher, 1981. In Spaghetti Westerns. Routledge Kegan & Paul. p. 215. ISBN 0-7100-0503-2. Google Book Search. Retrieved on January 6, 2009.
  8. ^ The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002), documentary film about Evans' life
  9. ^ Jon E Lewis, ed (1998). New American Cinema. Duke University Press. pp. 14–17. 
  10. ^ Hearn, Marcus (2005). The Cinema of George Lucas. New York City: Harry N. Abrams Inc.. p. 46. ISBN 0-8109-4968-7. 
  11. ^ a b c d The Godfather DVD commentary featuring Francis Ford Coppola, [2001]
  12. ^ a b c d e The Godfather DVD Collection documentary A Look Inside, [2001]
  13. ^ Sofia Coppola played roles in the later Godfather movies. In Part II, she plays a nameless immigrant girl on the ship that brings Vito Corleone to New York. In Part III, she played the major speaking role of Michael Corleone's daughter Mary.
  14. ^ The Godfathers' Stats
  15. ^ "Doing the impossible - Part 1 - The Godfather" - - Art and the Zen of Design
  16. ^ "Doing the impossible - Part 4 - The final result" - - Art and the Zen of Design
  17. ^ THE GODFATHER: Scene Locations
  18. ^ Photo of Bellevue side entrance
  19. ^ NY State Supreme Court steps
  20. ^ Where was Vito Corleone buried in "The Godfather"?
  21. ^ "Best-Reviewed Movies". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  22. ^ "The Godfather Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  23. ^ "Godfather, The (1972): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved on 2009-01-11. 
  24. ^ a b Burr, Ty. The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. Time-Life Books. ISBN 1-883013-68-2. 
  25. ^ "'BFI Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll 2002 - Critics Top Ten 2002". Retrieved on 2009-01-10. 
  26. ^ Michael Herr for Vanity Fair "He watched The Godfather again the night before and was reluctantly suggesting for the tenth time that it was possibly the greatest movie ever made and certainly the best-cast."
  27. ^ The New York Times: Best Pictures
  28. ^ Jonny Greenwood's 'Blood' score disqualified by AMPAS
  29. ^ "Metacritic: Best Reviewed Movies". Retrieved on April 13 2007. 
  30. ^ ""Rotten Tomatoes: Top Movies: Best of Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved on April 13 2007. 
  31. ^ 100 Greatest Films: Channel 4 Film
  32. ^ Empire Features
  33. ^ "CBS". Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. 
  34. ^ DVD review: 'The Godfather Collection' on DVD Spin Doctor
  35. ^ The Godfather DVD Collection [2001]
  36. ^ 'Godfather: Coppola Restoration' on Sept. 23 on DVD Spin Doctor
  37. ^ The Godfather Trilogy: Remastered Collection on UK
  38. ^ The Godfather Trilogy: Remastered Collection - Limited Edition Steelbook on UK
  39. ^ "Frankly my dear..." named number one movie quote, ABC News (Australia) Online (June 23, 2005)
  40. ^ Scott Thill, "Pillaging the Cartoon Universe,", May 29, 2003.
  41. ^ ""Coppola Angry over Godfather Video Game", April 8, 2005". Retrieved on August 22 2005. 

[edit] Further reading

  • Burr, T, The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, New York: Time-Life Books ISBN 1-883013-68-2. Lists The Godfather as "the greatest film of all time."
  • Cowie, Peter, The Godfather Book, London: Faber and Faber, 1997
  • Nourmand, Tony, The Godfather in Pictures, London: Boxtree, 2007 ISBN 978-07522-2637-8

[edit] External links

Preceded by
The French Connection
Academy Award for Best Picture
Succeeded by
The Sting

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