The Godfather- Film Review



When people think of the “greatest movies of all time”, they often name films such as Citizen Kane, 8 ½, and Casablanca. Another film held in this high regard is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 crime drama classic The Godfather. Upon its release, the film was met with mixed reviews from audiences and critics alike, but it went on to win 3 Academy Awards. It also spawned 2 official sequels: The Godfather part 2 (which won 6 Academy Awards), and The Godfather part 3, which is undoubtedly the least popular of the franchise. Recently, there has been the creation of a mini-series providing behind the scenes information on how Al Ruddy produced The Godfather with little financing, and in the process saved a now popular film studio (Paramount Pictures). The film’s popularity and high-status on the landscape of cinema has created a fan base including generations of people across the globe. 

So how did The Godfather come about in the first place? The Godfather began as a book published in 1969, written by Mario Puzzo(a failing author at the time). The book was based on the real life Italian-American Mob in New York, and more specifically Hell’s Kitchen. When the rights to the book were bought by Paramount Pictures (a failing corporation, which had previously been bankrupted in the early 1930’s), the project was assigned to Al Ruddy, a rising producer who created the CBS smash-hit sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Due to his desire to produce a feature film, he agreed. Ruddy begged the studio to allow Puzo to write the screenplay, and after a few back-and-forths, they finally agreed. Ruddy wanted a young Francis Ford Coppola to be the director of the movie based on Coppola’s earlier work (including films like Dementia 13 and The Rain People). Coppola was hesitant, but agreed to direct The Godfather in order to finance an idea he had for a film called The Conversation. Once officially attached to the project, both Puzo and Coppola began working on the screenplay based on the book.

The movie starts with Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in a meeting with Amerigo Bonasera on the day of The Don’s daughter’s wedding (played by a pre-Rocky Talia Shire). In attendance at the wedding is Michel Corleone (played by a young Al Pacino) who has just come home from World War II. The Don, the patriarch of a powerful Italian-American crime family, takes care of his friends, family, and enemies through means of favors, bribery, and even violence under the blind radar of the police (which he owns). Sadly due to The Don’s failing health, the oldest brother Sonny (played by the late James Caan) takes control of the family business, but is later betrayed by his sister’s husband. Due to this betrayal, Michael becomes the new head of the Family and takes charge of the inevitable cycle of crime, betrayal, and violence. 

So you’re probably asking, “Why does this make The Godfather a good movie”?  A reason for why The Godfather is one of the “greatest films of all time ” is due to its characters and their complexity. For example, Michael Corelone from the beginning doesn’t want to take part in the family business, although as time goes by, both Michael and his father realize he will soon have to take charge of the family. Another reason why people all over the world have fallen in love with this film is the musical score. For all those who say music does nothing, look up the musical score “Love Theme” from Nino Rota. When watching the film, pay close attention to the music and its raw emotion. While underestimated, the musical score can and will make or break the film. Another reason why it’s a great film is due to the overall story. The Corleones offer justice to those to which the legal law don’t care about, and they (the Corelones) know they live in an unjust world in an unjust country, and they do whatever they have to do in order to survive. Another aspect of The Godfather that works very well is the pacing. Despite its nearly 3 hour runtime, the film is engaging, entertaining, and doesn’t waste a single second. It draws you in from the beginning, and keeps your attention all the way through.

The big question surrounding the film still remains: is The Godfather the greatest film ever made? Art is completely subjective, and therefore, by definition, the “greatest film of all time” cannot exist. Here at Itasca High School however, we certainly think it is one of the best, and highly recommend it to anyone interested, and beg you, the reader, to find out for yourself. 

The Godfather is rated R, has a runtime of 175 minutes, and is currently available to stream on Paramount+.