The Godfather is a film adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Mario Puzo, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. The film's story spans ten years from late 1949 to 1953.
This movie and its two sequels are regarded by many to be the definitive Mafia films, consistently ranked amongst the finest American movies of all time.
Main characters and plot
The film begins at the wedding of Don Corleone's (Brando) daughter, Connie, to Carlo. According to tradition, the Don is meeting people and granting various favors. One of the favors is asked by Johnny Fontane, a crooner who wants Corleone's influence to break into the movie business.
Corleone family consiglierie Tom Hagen (Duvall) "persuades" film producer Jack Woltz to cast Fontane in a forthcoming movie by leaving the head of the producer's prize racehorse in Woltz's bed.
Meanwhile, Michael (Pacino) returns from service in the Second World War. Sollozzo, a known drug agent working for the Tattaglia family, asks Don Corleone for his help in selling narcotics, which Corleone refuses. Luca Brasi, Don Corleone's bodyguard, is sent to obtain information from the Tattaglias, who kill him.
There is then an assassination attempt on Don Corleone, who survives. In response, Michael arranges to kill Solozzo and his chief accomplice, a corrupt police captain named McCluskey, and shoots them both in a Bronx restaurant. Having done that, he flees to Sicily to avoid attention. There, he meets and marries Apollonia, who is later murdered by a car bomb meant for Michael.
The temperamental Sonny (Caan) prepares to deal with Carlo, who is abusing his wife (Sonny's sister Connie), but Sonny is set up and murdered, an action which drives Don Corleone to seek peace with the warring Five Families. Michael returns home from Sicily and marries Kay (Keaton). The ailing Don Corleone places Michael in charge of the Family, which has plans to leave behind its cover (olive oil importing) and "go legit" in the Las Vegas casino business. Their offers to buy out casino owner Moe Greene (based partly on Bugsy Siegel) are rebuffed. While playing with his grandson, Don Corleone dies from a heart attack.
Michael assumes full control, arranges for the brutal killings of the heads of the rival families, and has Carlo strangled for his role in Sonny's murder.
At the end of the movie, Michael is shown to be the new Godfather, with people paying their respect to him, and referring to him as Don Corleone.
The film was released in 1972 and was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who had directed several films prior to this; none of which had a significant impact upon the public. Shooting spanned from March 29, 1971, to August 6 of that year. Due to skepticism about the film's expected success, a low budget was set for the film, forcing the crew to use regular lighting as opposed to production lighting. This lent a more realistic appearance to the film.
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola started working in Films way back in 1960, when he enrolled into the famous UCLA for Film studies, The son of music-maker Carmine Coppola, found fame with his film that he made as a part of his thesis was, "You're a big boy now"(66). He received great adulation it was theatrically released by Warner Bros. earning him fame as a talented script-writer; critical acclaim also got him the Masters Degree in Fine Arts from UCLA., and he also met George Lucas during its filming. Among his earlier before his Godfather-success were Finian's Rainbow in 1968 & Rain People in 1969, which won him great fame nominated for the Palmewinning the Golden Shell (San Sabestian Film Fest) in 1969 & a Golden Globe for actress Petula. His first brush with world-wide fame was for Patton, the screenplay he co-wrote with Edmund H. North and garnered for him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1970.
The most vesatile among the Top 25 Directors of all time, 4 of his films are listed in the AFI 100 top movies. He also has the unique record of winning the Oscar for Direction, Screenplay,and as producer; sharing this record with Billy Wilder, James L.Brooks, Peter Jackson & the Coen Bros.
He also holds the record of two movies to win the Best Actor in which both refused to accept the statuette- George C. Scott for Patton (1970) and Marlon Brando for The Godfather (1972). Coppola wrote the first and directed the second, respectively.
Puzo helped in the making of the movie and its sequels and co-wrote the screenplay. The producers originally wanted Robert Redford to play Michael Corleone, but Coppola demanded Al Pacino. Pacino was not well known at the time, and the studio did not consider him right for the part. Pacino was only granted the role after Coppola threatened to quit the production.
The role of Don Vito Corleone was memorably acted by Marlon Brando, who won an Academy Award (which he did not accept) for his portrayal of the ageing Don. Many of the actors playing the supporting roles were largely unknown or minor actors; however, they rocketed into the limelight with the success of The Godfather. Al Pacino and Robert Duvall, in particular, went on to enjoy long, successful, highly acclaimed careers.
Selected cast list
- Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone)
- Al Pacino (Michael Corleone)
- James Caan (Sonny Corleone|Santino "Sonny" Corleone)
- Richard S. Castellano (Peter Clemenza)
- Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen)
- Diane Keaton (Kay Adams)
- Alex Rocco (Moe Green)
- Talia Shire (Connie)
- Richard Conte (Don Barzini)
- John Cazale (Freddo)
- Victor Rendigna
- Al Martino (Johnny Fontane)
- John Marley (Jack Woltz)
- Sterling Hayden (Capt McCluskey)
- +Uncredited Names not mentioned
- "Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man." - Marlon Brando as Don Corleone
- "Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever." Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
- "I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless. But not men." - Marlon Brando as Don Corleone
- "Leave the gun. Take the cannolis." - Richard S. Castellano as Peter Clemenza
- "Never let anyone outside the family know what you're thinking." - Marlon Brando as Don Corleone
The film is greatly respected among international critics and the public. It was voted greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly, and #3 of all time by the American Film Institute. It is consistently, and currently, ranked #2 on IMDB's Top 250.
The Godfather won three Academy Awards:
- Best Picture
- Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando refused the award)
- Best Writing (adapted screenplay) (Francis Coppola, Mario Puzo)
The film was also nominated for eight additional Academy Awards. In addition, it won five Golden Globes, one Grammy, and numerous other awards.
The sequel The Godfather Part II also won an Academy Award for Best Picture, making the Godfather trilogy the only series of films to date to win multiple Oscars in this field.
It was also the only sequel ever to win an Academy Award, until Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won the Best Picture award in 2003 (imdb.com)
The film was an enormous box-office hit, smashing previous records to become the highest-grossing film of all time (until that record was surpassed by Jaws in 1975, and a number of other movies afterwards).
The Godfather was also a great success with audiences. The film made US$5,264,402 in its opening weekend, which was a record at the time. The film's $134 million total North American gross briefly made it the highest-grossing film of its time.
The Godfather Part II
A sequel, The Godfather Part II, was released in 1974. It consists of two parallel storylines, with the focus switching between these. The first storyline follows Michael Corleone in the 1950s; the other is a flashback sequence following his father, Vito, from his youth in Sicily up through the founding of the Corleone crime family in New York and the births of Michael and his siblings. This version of Vito is played by different actors at different ages, but the adult Vito is played by Robert De Niro, who won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for a role in which, interestingly, he speaks almost no English-language dialogue. Many critics consider the sequel to be superior to the original film in quality.
The Godfather Saga
Coppola re-edited the two movies together, in chronological order (adding some previously unseen footage but also toning down the violence), into one long saga for TV broadcast, entitled The Godfather Saga. While easier to understand, many consider this version to be less interesting than the original from a structural or artistic standpoint.
Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II have been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. This is not the case for the third installment.
The Godfather Part III
In 1990, Coppola released a belated third film, The Godfather Part III. This film was successful financially, but critical and fan response was mixed. However, the movie still received seven Academy Award nominations, among them Best Picture and Best Cinematography. The film is also notable for the key role played by Coppola's daughter, the future Academy Award-winning film-maker Sofia Coppola, who was forced to play Mary Corleone on short notice after Winona Ryder became ill.
The movie was set in 1979, and focused on an ageing Michael Corleone. Parts of the film were loosely based on real historical events, including the death of Pope Paul VI, the election of John Paul I, and his subsequent death.
- Sofia Coppola who had to play the part of Mary Corleone, when Wynona Ryder reported sick, but rumours of Wynona's date clashes with Edward Scissorhands as the main cause for deserting The Godfather: Part III are well known.
- Sofia Coppola in the role as Mary Corleone got her the infamous Raspberry Award,presented to an actor's worst acting, but on the news Soffia cooly said, I ain't heartbroken because Acting was never my cup of tea, & later went on to be the 1st American & only the 3rd Lady to be nominated for an Oscar for Direction until Kathryn Bigelow won it in 2009,
- Sofia went on to win the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay for the movie "Lost in Translation"(2003) & the youngest nominee in the Directing category.
- Sofia's Oscar win created the record of the Coppola family's 3 generation of winners in Oscar history sharing this title with the famed Huston family.
One of the movie's most shocking moments comes early in the film, involving the decapitated head of a horse. Animal rights groups protested the inclusion of the scene, but Coppola stated that the horse's head was delivered to him from a dog food company; a horse had not been killed especially for the movie.
Film scholars and fans of the Godfather movies note what they believe is the significance of oranges in the films. The fruit plays a symbolic role, fans suggest, as the appearance of an orange in the film indicates an important "death scene" will take place. In the first film, Don Vito Corleone is buying oranges from a fruit seller when he is attacked; oranges are placed on the table at the meeting of the Mafia bosses (and specifically in front of the ones who will be assassinated at the film's climax); and Don Corleone dies while eating an orange, as he plays with his young grandson. In the opening wedding scene, Tessio is conspicuously seen choosing an orange. In The Godfather Part II, Michael Corleone receives an orange from an associate of a group behind an attempt on his life, and later in the movie, is seen eating an orange as he orders the "hit" against his enemies, in preparation for the climax of the film. In the flashback scenes to Little Italy, Don Fanucchi gets oranges from a street market, and chooses an orange dress from the delivery being driven by the young Vito Corleone. The map of Cuba on Hyman Roth's birthday cake is coloured orange, that night, Michael tries to have him killed.
Michael also dies while eating an orange in Sicily at the end of the third film.
In the acclaimed tv show "The Sopranos", oranges also take an important role - Tony goes to buy orange juice when the attempt on his life is made.
The trilogy had a powerful impact upon the public. Don Vito's line "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse" was voted as the second most memorable line in cinema history in a 2005 poll by the American Film Institute, and it is often parodied.
Reports from Mafia trials and confessions have suggested that Mafia families began a "real life" tradition of paying respect to the family don by kissing his ring, in imitation of the opening scene of The Godfather.
The image of the Mafia as being a medieval-style organization with a "royal family" doing favors for underlings is very popular. For example, in John Grisham's novel and film The Firm, the Mafia is depicted as having an organisation wherein the top mobsters marry into the "royal family". However, this image bears little resemblance to the more sordid reality of a Mafia "family", which is depicted in the film Goodfellas.
The Home Box Office series The Sopranos pays homage to The Godfather in a humorous episode where they discuss the feasibility of bootlegging copies of the DVD. Paramount returned the favor by including this clip as an Easter Egg on the Godfather DVD Collection.
- Main article: wikipedia:The Godfather: The Game
The video game company Electronic Arts is currently working on a video game version of The Godfather. Prior to his death, Marlon Brando provided some voice work for Vito, which was eventually deemed unusable. Francis Ford Coppola said in April 2005 that he was not informed of Paramount's decision to allow the game to be made and he did not approve of it.
A board game based on the movie was also produced.
Actors and crew
- The Godfather at the Internet Movie Database
- Plot Summary on Ruined Endings
- Plot Summary on Katje's Movie World
- Plot Discussion on Filmsite
- The Godfather on The Godfather Wiki
|The Godfather is on Wikipedia.|