Academy Awards 1972 -
Best Adapted Screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola & Mario Puzo
Academy Awards 1972 -
Entertainment Weekly - 05/31/1996 Rating: A
Chicago Sun-Times - 03/16/1997
"...Gordon Willis' cinematography is celebrated for its darkness; it is rich, atmospheric, expressive..."
Premiere - 12/01/2003
"[A] superlative achievement....[With] Gordon Willis's exquisitely dark Technicolor cinematography..."
Total Film - 03/01/2004
"[Brando] astounded just about everyone with his performance
Entertainment Weekly - 07/16/2004
"Brando turns from Method to myth, with an Oscar-winning performance so calculatedly eccentric and full of inspired surprises that his character stands apart from all the others..."
Based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo (who co-wrote the screenplay with director Francis Ford Coppola), THE GODFATHER tells an epic tale of Mafia life in America during the 1940s and '50s. Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the family patriarch balancing a love of his family with an ambitious criminal instinct. At the wedding of the Don's daughter, Connie (Talia Shire), youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) is reunited with his family. A subsequent assassination attempt leaves the Don too ill to run the family business, forcing Michael and Sonny (James Caan), with the help of consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), to lead the Corleones into a vendetta-filled war with other mob families. Violent revenge ensues as the family tries to change from its old criminal ways into legitimacy.
Coppola's certified masterpiece, which won three Oscars (including Best Picture) and spawned an Oscar-winning sequel (THE GODFATHER PART II), set a new screen standard for merging blood-soaked violence with intimate family drama. In the process, Coppola single-handedly established the Mafia as an industry in film and television (GOODFELLAS, THE SOPRANOS). Featuring truly unforgettable performances, including the Best Actor-winning Brando, the riveting Pacino, and an unexpectedly dramatic Diane Keaton, THE GODFATHER is the pinnacle of Hollywood cinema in the 1970s.
Based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel, THE GODFATHER is Francis Ford Coppola's Mafia masterpiece. The film tells the story of the powerful Corleone family, headed by patriarch Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Coppola sets a new standard for cinematic violence intercut with Italian-American family life. Al Pacino, in his breakout role, is riveting as youngest son Michael, a war hero turned ruthless gangster. The musical score by Nino Rota along with such classic lines as, "I made him an offer he couldn't refuse," make this epic mobster movie unforgettable.
Based On A Novel |
Essential Cinema |
Family Interaction |
Family Relations |
Organized Crime |
Period Piece |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: March 11, 1972
THE GODFATHER is number three on the American Film Institute's list of America's 100 Greatest Movies.
THE GODFATHER was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1990.
The baby in the baptism scene is the director's daughter, Sofia Coppola, who later starred in THE GODFATHER, PART 3. The scene was shot at the St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan's Chinatown. (Also, part of Martin Scorsese's MEAN STREETS was filmed in the cathedral's cemetery.)
Singer Vic Damone was originally cast in the role of Hollywood crooner Johnny Fontane, eventually played by Al Martino. The character is supposedly based on Frank Sinatra.
Marlon Brando was a no-show at the 1972 Academy Awards and sent a stand-in, an "Apache" woman, who came with a 15-page speech to read if the star won. Howard Koch, the show's producer, said that if she went over 40 seconds, he would forcibly remove her from the stage. When Brando's name was called, the woman, Sacheen Littlefeather, explained that Brando would not accept the award, as he was protesting the treatment of American Indians by the film industry. The speech met with a mixed reaction, and certainly left most of the audience stunned. Jane Fonda told the press, "I think what he did was wonderful." Actor Michael Caine said, "If you're going to make a humanitarian gesture, I think a man who makes $2 million a picture should at least give half of it to the Indians." Coppola's response was "I was so sure I was going to win Best Director." (He didn't.)
The film was shot on location in New York and Sicily. The estimated budget was $6 million. The film was originally 177 minutes but was cut by six minutes when it was released theatrically. The film was released with its two companion pieces on video as part of the reedited 450-minute THE GODFATHER SAGA.
Jack Woltz's horse, which ends up decapitated in his bed, is named Khartoum.
Louis Malle did the English-French translation of the film for its release in France.
Marlon Brando was only 47 when he played Vito Corleone, whose age ranged from 53 to 62 in the film.