D.J. Haza presents the next entry in his series of films to watch before you die…
The Godfather, 1972.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, John Cazale, Richard Conte, Talia Shire and Diane Keaton.
The Godfather is the epic crime film that chronicles the Corleone crime family from 1945 to 1955 as leadership passes from Don Corleone (Brando) to his son Michael (Pacino). The film won Oscars for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay as well as being hailed as one of the greatest films of all time.
The film follows the story of the Corleone family from the return home of war veteran Michael for his sister Connie’s wedding. Arriving with his girlfriend Kay (Keaton), the brightest of Don Corleone’s sons explains that he doesn’t want to be a part of family business. As war threatens to break out between the Corleones and the other crime families of New York, Don Corleone is gunned down.
With the Don unable to lead the family it falls upon his eldest and hotheaded child Sonny (Caan) to run things. However it is Michael who offers to readdress the balance and murder the two men behind his father’s shooting. Once the job is completed Michael is immediately sent back to Sicily in order to hide and be protected from any retaliation.
As the Don recovers he strikes peace with the other families and Michael can return safely. On his return he is placed in charge of the family with his father offering advice and assistance as his consigliore. As Michael executes his plan to make the family legitimate he becomes more and more embroiled in the darker side of family business and after the Don’s passing he goes about striking out at all the New York families and asserting the Corleones as the dominant force in organised crime.
The Godfather is a stunning gangster film that is hailed as one of the greatest films of all time and has influenced so much of popular culture over the passed 40 years. The film is quoted over and over again in music, film, TV and any other medium possible, as well as making over $260 million dollars worldwide on just a $6.5 million budget.
The Godfather was never expected to reach the heights it did and Coppola was never first choice to direct. The film was originally intended for Sergio Leone, but he refused in order to work on his own gangster film Once Upon a Time in America. Coppola was also wary about directing it as he felt it might glorify the mafia, but took the role in order to make it a metaphor for American capitalism. Coppola’s time on The Godfather was constantly made difficult as the studio threatened to replace him and he was even shadowed by another director just in case they wanted to fire him so they had someone to step in.
On top of that pressure, the studio also felt that Coppola’s casting choices were poor and they were unhappy with Brando as Don Corleone as well as the unheard of Pacino as Michael. Pacino had been in only two minor films at the time and the studio felt that his height would be an issue for a man who is meant to gain so much power.
The Godfather is a film you must see before you die because this is an offer you cannot refuse.