The Godfather (1972)

godfather poster 1972 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great crime drama


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Godfather

Studio: Paramount Pictures/Alfran Productions

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s): March 14, 1972 (Premiere)/March 24, 1972 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

godfather corleone family wedding picture

One big “happy” family

Don “The Godfather” Corleone (Marlon Brando) is one of the biggest mob bosses on the East Coast. His son Michael (Al Pacino) is a decorated World War II veteran, Sonny (James Caan) is the hothead poised to take over the business, Fredo (John Cazale) is the screw-up, and his daughter Connie (Talia Shire) has just married. When Corleone objects the Families getting involved in drug trafficking, he becomes a target, and it is Michael who must steps up to avenge his father.  As Michael rises to take control of the family, he finds himself mired in the crime that has been with him his entire life.  Despite objections by his wife Kate (Diane Keaton), Michael must become what he promised never to be.

godfather horse head john marley jack woltz

Silk sheets and horse blood don’t mix

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather is the crime-mob movie.  The film was adapted from the 1969 best-selling Mario Puzo novel.  Critically acclaimed upon its release, the film received Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando who famously had his statue collected by Sacheen Littlefeather aka Maria Cruz), and Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Pacino, Caan, Duvall), Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Editing.  The score was originally nominated for Best Score but it was deemed ineligible due to some use in Fortunella (1958). The movie was one of the biggest moneymakers of all time and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1990.

The movie is the mob movie in which all other mob movies are compared to.  I actually did not see it until much later into my movie watching period (high school) and see the movie with less nostalgia (I actually saw it the first time as the combined film The Godfather Saga which put The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II in chronological order).  While I don’t have the nostalgia for The Godfather, it is one of the greatest films made.

Oh, Fredo…you suck

The movie is gritty and a great period piece. Coppola helped clean up Puzo’s story and tighten it into a strong movie with some very tense moments. Scenes like the gunning down of Don Corleon, the showdown at the hospital, the death of Sonny, and the killing of the rival families all demonstrate a great sense of style and editing. The last shot of Kate watching Michael meet with his bosses is also is a fantastic way to end the film by providing conclusion (and a perfect circle) but also leaving it open for the sequel…the series is about the corruption of a man.

The acting is all top notch. I always love how Marlon Brando got his top billing like normal when Al Pacino has a majority of the scenes, but Brando in his typical fashion really kills in the scenes he’s in so I can’t fault him. Pacino is amazing in The Godfather but really gets to stretch more in The Godfather II. In general, I can’t criticize anyone in the cast…they all give amazing performances. Even people like Lenny Montana (Luca Brasi) who obviously isn’t the greatest actor, works in the movie because Coppola knows how to use him and shoot it to make him a better actor.

godfather sonny killed james caan

About 100 shots into him, and Sonny’s still like “I can walk it off”

The movie also went through a lot of changes in its cast with Laurence Olivier, Ernest Borgnine, and Danny Thomas being considered for the Godfather. Ryan O’Neal and Robert Redford were top choices for Michael with Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Martin Sheen, and James Caan also considered. Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and Bruce Dern were up for Duvall’s spot with Mia Farrow being considered for Kate.

The movie couldn’t look better.  Coppola takes that grittiness of the story is transformed into look that feel like old gangster films while still being modern.  With a style that nears noir, he infused a level of violence that was more in tune to the films of the late ’60s and early ’70s.  The result is one of those rare perfect films that is hard to find any faults with.

godfather this one time ending michael kate al pacino diane keaton

“This one time, Kate…this one time”

The Godfather is a great film, but it is a commitment because once you watch The Godfather you’re going to want to watch The Godfather:  Part II next…The Godfather:  Part III can wait.  The film is important, and obviously it is immensely quotable…so seeing it enriches other films that reference it.  The Godfather and The Godfather II as mentioned were combined in The Godfather Saga for television for NBC in 1977. Despite my love of The Godfather, I’m in The Godfather Part II boat as the better picture.  The Godfather Part II was released in 1974 and also went on to win Best Picture…the first for a sequel.  The classic nature of this movie makes it a must for any movie viewer…The Godfather endures.

Related Links:

The Godfather:  Part II (1974)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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