The Godfather (1972)

the-godfatherThe Godfather is a 1972 American crime drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of the fictional Corleone New York crime family, the story spans the years 1945–55, concentrating on the transformation of Michael Corleone from reluctant family outsider to ruthless Mafia boss while chronicling the family under the patriarch Vito.

Plot

On the occasion of his daughter Connie’s wedding, Vito Corleone hears requests in his role as the Godfather, the Don of a New York crime family. Vito’s youngest son, Michael, wearing a Marine Corps uniform, introduces his girlfriend, Kay Adams, to his family at the reception. Johnny Fontane, a famous singer and godson to Vito, seeks his help in securing a movie role; Vito dispatches his consigliere, Tom Hagen, to Los Angeles to talk the obnoxious studio head, Jack Woltz, into giving Johnny the part. Woltz is unmoved until he wakes up in bed with the severed head of his prized stallion.

Shortly before Christmas 1945, drug baron Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo, backed by the Tattaglia crime family, asks Don Corleone for both investment in his narcotics business and protection through his political connections. Wary of involvement in a dangerous new trade that risks alienating political insiders, Vito declines. Suspicious, he sends his enforcer, Luca Brasi, to spy on them. After disposing of Luca Brasi, Sollozzo has Vito shot in the street, then kidnaps Hagen. With Corleone first-born Sonny in command, Hagen is forced to persuade him to accept Sollozzo’s deal, then released. Vito survives, and at the hospital Michael prevents another attempt on his father; Michael’s jaw is broken by NYPD Captain Marc McCluskey, Sollozzo’s bodyguard. Sonny retaliates with a hit on Tattaglia’s son. The family receives two fish wrapped in Brasi’s bullet-proof vest, indicating that Luca “sleeps with the fishes.” Michael plots to murder Sollozzo and McCluskey: on the pretext of settling the dispute, Michael agrees to meet them in a Bronx restaurant. There, retrieving a planted handgun, he kills both men.

And the rest is history…

Cast

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando in the title role, is Vito Corleone (born Vito Andolini), the Don of the Corleone crime family. A native Sicilian, he is married to Carmela Corleone and the father of Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Connie.

Al Pacino

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the Don’s third son, recently returned from World War II. The only college-educated family member, he is initially steered from the family business. His progression from the family’s last-born son to its ruthless boss is the main subject matter of the film.

James Caan

James Caan as Santino “Sonny” Corleone, Don Corleone’s hot-headed eldest son. As underboss, he is the heir apparent to succeed his father as head of the Corleone family.

Richard S. Castellano

Richard S. Castellano as Peter Clemenza, a caporegime for the Corleone family. He is an old friend of Vito Corleone and Salvatore Tessio.

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, Don Corleone’s informally adopted son, he is the family lawyer and consigliere (counselor). Unlike the Corleones, he is of German-Irish descent, not Sicilian.

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone, initially Michael’s non-Italian girlfriend and then his second wife and the mother of his two children.

John Cazale

John Cazale as Frederico “Fredo” Corleone, the middle son of the Corleone family. Deeply insecure and not very bright, he is considered the weakest Corleone brother.

Talia Shire

Talia Shire as Constanzia “Connie” Corleone, the youngest child and only daughter of the Corleone family. Her wedding reception begins the film.

Release

Paramount Pictures held the world premiere for The Godfather in New York City on March 14, 1972, almost three months after the planned release date of Christmas Day in 1971

Box office

The Godfather was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records to become the highest grossing film of 1972. It earned $81.5 million in theatrical rentals in North America during its initial release, increasing its earnings to $85.7 million through a reissue in 1973, and including a limited re-release in 1997 it ultimately earned an equivalent exhibition gross of $135 million.

Critical response

Since its release, The Godfather has received critical acclaim and is seen as one of the most influential films of all time, particularly in the gangster genre.

Rotten Tomatoes

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 99% rating based on 84 reviews. It has an average score of 9.2.

Metacritic

Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a perfect weighted average score of 100 out of 100, based on 14 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “universal acclaim”. The film is ranked at the top of Metacritic’s top 100 list.

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