The Godfather (1972-74-90)

Trilogy | 549 minutes
Rating:
9/10
9

Review

“I believe in America.”

Arguably, it’s one of the outstanding opening lines and distinctive introductions ever made in the history of American cinema. Indeed. are many grounds why The Godfather is in every perfect Top 10 list of best movies ever made, true to the name followed by The Godfather II, earned almost every acclaim in the glitz of cinema all over the world. The Godfather I was released in 1972 followed the II in 1974 and III was much later in 1990. The noted name to mention is the novelist and screen writer Mario Puzo, known for his novels about the Mafia, and The God Father was co-adapted into a film by the genius Francis Ford Coppola.

Coppola himself being a trained screenwriter was able to get the backing of Paramount production head Robert Evans, who wanted an Italian American, to make the movie with ethnic to the core. Sergio Leone was the first choice, but he turned it down to work on his own gangster film ‘Once Upon a Time in America’. Even though not Italian, Peter Bogdanovich was offered the job, but rejected the mafia genre and in all, there were twelve directors refused and finally Coppola got the big bill of Mario Puzo’s Novel.

This movie is rather believed to be the untouchables in the cinematic history, both God Father I and II had the collective standing of the masterpiece and by far the God Father III was just able to touch the finish line and not to inhibit the spirits- The God Father earned the cult status ever since the release of first of trilogy in 70s, the movie endured magnanimous opening that ripped up the Hollywood rulebook besides a un-conventional, un-Hollywood-esque, for the movies made until early 70s and unflinchingly the evergreen in crime/gangster genre of all times.

The Godfather bestrides the ages.  Apparently forthright, classical narrative and punchy, compelling violence, as the roots go back to the 30s gangster cycle that kick started the American cinemas love affair with criminals. The Godfather trilogy at once proves and disproves the conventional acumen that a sequel thou never equal the original in a series of films that spans the story of young Vito Corleone’s escape to America in 1901 to his grandson Vincent Corleone till 1990, the saga of a multi-generational family told in an almost mythical way

The classy appearing Italian influence and the culture of the story endears to the logical conclusion in it’s rich European-influenced visual sense and psychological complexity, and the master-craft Coppola’s ability to make the story of a family into an unconventional history of post-war America, borrows from Italian cinema, not the neo-realists of the period of the film’s setting, but the modernists as Visconti who followed the unhurried pace is potentially a cause for the congenital comforts to the movie into the new high.

The trilogy follows the fictional Corleone Mafia family through the course in the history of United States and their homeland Sicily. The early plot line begins with patriarch of the family Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) decline and exit from the family business and the passing over of the control to his youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) who then becomes the major focus of the films. After seizing control, Michael uproots the family from New York and moves out to Las-Vegas where he gets involved in a business transaction in the unstable Cuba that he manages to get out of. Years later, Michael has pulled out of the mafia world and attempts to buy a good reputation through various acts of charity.

The Godfather Trilogy carries precisely a striking resume. It’s unequalled in the history of cinema earning $550 million worldwide. The Godfather I is seen by many as one of the greatest films of all time followed by the greatest sequel Godfather II of all time. The series is heavily awarded and winning 9 out of 29 total Academy Award nominations and incredible five nominations for acting is regarded as 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time.

The God Father: The trilogy starts with the introduction of the Corleone family headed by Don Vito, an elderly patriarch and crime lord controlling much of the criminal activity in New York, who dispenses favours to anybody who recognizes his greatness and willing to pay the favour back by rendering him a little service. The movie closely depicts the novel, with complex and complicated subplots centres around the life of Don Vito, extensively viewed as the influential and cogent Godfather.

The story gets darker when Don Vito refuses to share his political influence and police protection to other four of Italian families of the Tattaglia, Barzini, Stracci and Cuneo families, who contract in the narcotics business. Don Vito’s rejection is seen as an insult by the other bosses of the families and thus spurs the war among the families and into an assassination try against him.

This follows Don’s younger son Michael shot Sollozzo, the man who ordered the hit on Don Vito, and corrupt police officer McCluskey.  The gang war escalates, leading to the eventual exile of Michael to Sicily and the death of Vito’s hothead son, Santino. Michael then returns, takes over the family business that he once scorned, and practically consolidating his power by eliminating all the other rival families, including traitors in his family (bro-in-law Carlo, who fingered Sonny for rival boss Barzini) and caporegime Sal Tessio, who should have made a deal with Barzini to have Michael assassinated.

The God father II: The second of series follow the first film’s events, centers on Michael Corleone, the new Don of the Corleone crime family, trying to hold his business ventures together from 1958 to 1959; the other is a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone, from his childhood in Sicily in 1901 to his founding of the Corleone family in New York City.

Taking the route of the parallel storylines, beginning with the backdrop of Don Vito, on his travails from Italy to US as an immigrant little boy to the US and meets the two closest men who later serve as his caporegimes – Clemenza and Sal Tessio.  Don kills the extortionist and petty boss Don Fanucci, gains the instant respect of the immigrant Italian community. Besides goes back to Italy to avenge his fathers killing.

The other parallel in US draws a story of Michael Corleone survives an assassination effort against his life in his Nevada home and was determined to get to the bottom of it shortly after his revelation and  intention to gain control of another casino.

Michael meets one of his caporegimes Pentangeli, expressing him about the gangster by the name of Hyman Roth who has been responsible for murderous bid on his life.  He reprimands Pentangeli to cooperate with the Rosato brothers, who Roth backs.  Though, Pentangeli almost get killed by the Rosato Brothers despite following Michael’s orders. Michael continues his deal with Roth, and yet, and the two go to Havana, Cuba to invest right at the eve of the Cuban Revolution.  Michael, after some persuasion from Roth, decides to invest and sent for older brother Fredo to bring the money.  Later, in a bar, Michael learns that Fredo was in fact the family traitor.

The disloyalty and the betrayal bring down Michael to pitch the suicide of Pentangeli, because of his incriminate act during senate hearing and revenge Roth and killing his own brother Fredo as the last nail

The God father III: Francis Ford Coppola reprises his role as a director and also the screenplay with Mario Puzo. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire. The film also weaves into the aforementioned plot of a fictionalized account of real-life events and the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978 and the Papal banking scandal of 1981–1982

Michael sells his interests in all casinos and hotels to purchase the controlling interest in Immobiliare from the Vatican. Conversely, Joey Zasa, wherein bestowed the Corleone family business in New York, conspired with aging Don Altobello, and together orchestrating an assassination bid on Michael in Atlantic City. Shortly thou, Michael’s nephew Vincent Mancini kill Joey Zasa and In 1980, Michael assign Vincent to be his successor as the Don and head of the Corleone family, allowing him to change his name to Vincent Corleone

The film ends with Michael, an old man, desk bound in the garden of Don Tommasino’s Sicilian villa as he eats an orange, a symbol in the Godfather trilogy of coming to an end. He slumps over in his chair, falls sideways to the ground, and dies alone, with his lone dog present.

The Coppola still dubs the success of The Godfather “an accident” that changed things for him. He said the film was a “metaphor” for America. When Mario Puzo first came out with his story, he still it was a tragic story about this man growing up and becoming a part of the family business. He tries to protect his family but ends up slaughtering them. Michael is a tragic figure for me,” Coppola remarked in one of his interview.  “People at Paramount went crazy about how successful it was. They told me ‘if you have the formula for Coca-Cola, won’t you make more Coca-Cola?’ I really did not want to make the second film but then I thought it could have been interesting to tell the story of father and son at the same age.” Coppola said he revisited the story again after getting in a “terrible financial predicament” but the director has no regret. “When you are old, there is nothing worse than thinking I wish I had done this. So, I did absolutely everything,” he added.

Coppola said he did not even want to call the God Father III, when it was made in 1990, that got seven Oscars nominations despite mixed reviews, as The Godfather I and II. “I wanted to call it The Death of Michael Corleone. It was the story of redemption and I dealt with the idea of his soul. I think people went anticipating something similar to the earlier two but got something else,” said Coppola despite the fact reflecting on his famous trilogy.

The film also marks the best for it’s the memorable lines and some of the upshots are deep and ingratiates audience the pleasure of classic quotes and here are some to rejoice…..

  • “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”
  • “Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But, until that day, accept this justice as a gift”
  • “I want reliable people, people who aren’t going to be carried away. After all we’re not murderers in spite of what this undertaker thinks”
  • “I spent my life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless but not men”
  • “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man”
  • “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
  • “I don’t like violence, Tom. I’m a businessman. Blood is a big expense.”
  • “Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again.”
  • “Certainly, he can present a bill for such services. After all, we’re not Communists. But he must let us draw the water from the well.”
  • “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.”
  • “You gotta go, you gotta go.”
  • “My father taught me many things … keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
  • “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. [Our true enemy has not yet shown his face.]”
  • “When they come, they’ll come at what you love.”
  • “My father hated foundations. He loved doing it by himself, man to man”
  • “Don’t overestimate the power of forgiveness.”
  • “Never hate your enemies — it effects your judgement.”
  • “Your enemies always get strong on what you leave behind.”
  • “It would be a shame if a few rotten apples spoiled the whole barrel.”

 

Film Crew

  • Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Produced by Albert S. Ruddy (I); Gray Frederickson; Francis Ford Coppola & Fred Roos (II); and Fred Fuchs & Francis Ford Coppola (III)
  • Written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola associated writer Robert Towne (I)
  • Based on ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo
  • Starring: Marlon Brando (I); James Caan (I): John Marley (I); Simonetta Stefanelli (I); Al Pacino; Diane Keaton; Robert Duvall; John Cazale (I, II & III)) & Robert De Niro (II): Eli Wallach (III); George Hamilton (III); Joe Mantegna (III); Sofia Coppola (III) & Andy Garcia (III)
  • Music by Nino Rota
  • Cinematography: Gordon Willis
  • Edited by William H. Reynolds (I); Peter Zinner (I & II); Barry Malkin (II & III); Richard Marks (II) & Lisa Fruchtman (III) & Walter Murch (III)
  • Production Company: Alfran Productions (I & II) & American Zoetrope (III)
  • Distributed by Paramount Pictures
  • Release dates: 15 March 1972: (The Godfather): 20 December 1974 (The Godfather II) & 25 December 1990 (The Godfather III)
  • Run time of 549 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

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The Godfather Trilogy - Retrospective

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