The Godfather (1972): First Installment in Francis Ford Coppola's Corleone Crime Saga

Marlon Brando shines in Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's Godfather saga

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews 

The Godfather (1972) Poster, Marlon Brando, cross, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
The Godfather (1972)- By Francis Ford Coppola
Our Rating: 10
IMDb Ratings: 9.2
Genre: Crime | Drama
CastMarlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
LanguageEnglish | Italian | Latin
Country: USA
Runtime: 175 min
ColorColor (Technicolor)

Summary: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

The Godfather, the first film in the ubiquitously renowned Godfather series, presents a naked insight into the clandestine world of New York Mafia headed over by Don Vito Corleone also known as the "Godfather". The 1972 Oscar-winning Francis Ford Coppola film is based on the celebrated Godfather novel by Mario Puzo, published in 1969. Puzo's Godfather book was both a bestseller as well as a critically acclaimed work of fiction. Coppola directs The Godfather with a scalpel like precision, and fully succeeds in bringing Puzo's larger than life characters to life on the celluloid. Coppola entrusts none other than Puzo himself for the movie's screenplay. In the crime saga that revolves around the Corleone crime family, Puzo presents in a cutthroat fashion an eclectic blend of Crime, Suspense, and Drama that immures the viewer in a vice-like grip from the breathtaking inception to the blood-cuddling finale. Nino Rota's hypnotic music enriches The Godfather with an ineffable sense of poignancy while its vivid cinematography features amongst the best works of its time. Nigh flawless and ubiquitously acclaimed for being in a league of its own, The Godfather doesn't depict poetic justice, but rather portrays the triumph of puissance over pusillanimity in the most ruthless manner. 

The Godfather, Corleone Family: Vito, Michael, Fredo, Sonny, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Don Vito with his sons Sonny, Michael and Fredo 
The Godfather is a cinematic extravaganza that is widely regarded by many as the best motion picture of all time. The Godfather is studded with a plethora of supernal performances, and it won't be a hyperbole to say that almost every actor has given an Oscar worthy performance. Marlon Brando is exceptionally brilliant in his sterling portrayal of Vito Corleone,  and manages to bag his second Oscar for the part. The level of Brando's dedication to the part is such that he lives through the role to such an extent that it's impossible to separate him from his on-screen alter-ego, whose grandeur ironically lies in his austerity and inexorable equanimity. 

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, The Famous Restaurant Faceoff Sequence from The Godfather involving Michael Corleone, Sollozzo, and the Police Commissioner of New York,, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
The famous restaurant shoot-out scene featuring Al Pacino
Al Pacino is singularly remarkable in his portrayal of Michael Corleone. His character goes through a complete role-reversal in the second half as Michael turns to the dark side. The contrast that Pacino brings in his dichotomous portrayal is incredible to say the least. The restaurant shoot-out scene featuring Pacino is arguably the most powerful scene filmed in the history of American Cinema, and it is this very scene that Coppola deliberately pre-scheduled to convince the Studio personnels of Pacino's acting talent. It's indeed sad that Pacino was overlooked by the Academy, despite being nominated in the supporting category,  and had to wait for almost two decades to bag his first Oscar statuette. 

Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen in The Godfather, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, the Corleone family consiglieri, acts as a glue between the different characters in the movie, and his great sense of timing is exemplary. The rest of the cast too gives a thoroughly professional performance with special mention of James Caan as Sonny Corleone, Diane Keaton as Kay Adams, and the Italian American actor Al Lettieri as the menacing Sollozzo. With a timeless plot that has a universal appeal, The Godfather has become an archetype for crime movies as it continues to inspire moviemakers worldwide.  

Diane Keaton as Kay Corleone, Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams
The Godfather enjoys such an elusive grandeur that even the biggest complement made about it may not be able to fully justify its true brilliance. On the 40th anniversary of the movie's release, renowned film critic John Podhoretz touted The Godfather as "arguably the great American work of popular art" and "the summa of all great moviemaking before it". The Godfather may most aptly be described as an obituary of mankind owing to the pervasive violence and brutality that it portrays in the most sanguinary fashion. The Godfather is not just a movie, but is an experience of a lifetime that has risen above the limits of mortality only to attain a highly deserved apotheosis.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!

For more information on the title, please click on the following links:

Godfather Wiki

The Godfather Trailer (You Tube)

Please note that The Godfather: Part II has also been reviewed on this blog.

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  1. So many decades have past but the experience of The Godfather still comes second to none. Really liked the way you have expresses your opinion of the movie! 

  2. Indeed...thanks a ton, mate!

  3. One of the good reviews, I have read about 'The Godfather.' You are right, it's not a movie, it's a experience.

    1. Thanks Arun... needless to say, I am a great fan of your blog 'Passion for Movies' and I constantly derive a lot of inspiration from your love and passion for movies and cinema. The Godfather is indeed an ineffable experience that stays with you for ever.

  4. I read the book first before seeing the movie...An absolute masterpiece in itself and the movie did capture its charm...Nice review

    1. I haven't been lucky enough to read the book yet, but would try to get my hands on it soon. The movie is indeed a masterclass with some supernal performances from Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert Duvall. Thanks a ton for sharing your valuable opinion!

  5. Indeed the greatest movie ever
    A timeless classic that is not only an inside view of the mafia but an exploration of family and power. It is very difficult to find fault in any aspect of this movie. With a running time of close to three hours there is never a dull moment. The cast is superb especially Brando and Pacino who leave an indelible image on your head well after viewing the movie.
    This masterpiece needs to be revisited periodically just to remind us that it is unlikely that one would experience such a cinematic triumph in one's lifetime.


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