THE GODFATHER REVIEW: “The Godfather” stars Marlon Brando (Apocalypse Now, On the Waterfront), Al Pacino (Scarface , Glengarry Glen Ross), James Caan (Misery, Rollerball), Robert Duvall (The Apostle, Jack Reacher), Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, Something’s Gotta Give), Richard S. Castellano (Lovers and Other Strangers, The Gangster Chronicles [TV mini-series]), Sterling Hayden (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worry and Love the Bomb, The Killing), John Marley (Love Story, Faces), Richard Conte (The Big Combo, Ocean’s 11 ), Al Lettieri (The Getaway, Mr. Majestyk), Talia Shire (Rocky, New York Stories), Abe Vigoda (Good Burger, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm), Gianni Russo (Rush Hour 2, Super Mario Bros.), John Cazale (Dog Day Afternoon, The Conversation), Rudy Bond (A Streetcar Named Desire, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three), Al Martino, Morgana King (A Brooklyn State of Mind, A Time to Remember), Lenny Montana (The Jerk, Fingers), and John Martino (Confessions of a Thug, Dillinger). It is directed by Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now, The Conversation), who also wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo (Superman , Earthquake). The Corleone Family, a mafia with political and social connections, face danger when their patriarch Don Vito Corleone (Brando) turns away the opportunity of getting involved in the drug business.
I’m sure you’ve been asked at some point, “have you seen ‘The Godfather’?” At least for me, I’ve been asked it numerous times. It’s been regarded as one of the most influential films in cinema history, among the ranks of “Citizen Kane,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Star Wars.” For film enthusiasts, it’s a must-see, and for this reviewer it took several years to get around to watching it. Why? Gotta blame the runtime. Three hour epics are always daunting; not because of attention span, but more so the blocking out of free time to see them. However, the time has come. Enough excuses. Time to watch “The Godfather.” Unfortunately for me, I’m seeing this movie in an age heavily influenced by it. The nuances, innovations, and explorations revealed through this feature are now but a shadow. It’s no longer “original” because every other Italian mobster flick has taken from it. But, I would be a fool not to keep that in mind, and quickly after watching this movie I did some digging. I wanted to learn just how much this film inspired the cinema world so I’d know just how influential it really is. Turns out, it’s pretty important. As you can tell by the long laundry list of names above, this movie is a heavy ensemble piece, one that prides itself in the theme of “family.” In no way does the dialogue give mention to the Corleones being a mafia, let alone their rivals. They’re all identified as Families, each seeking a stake in the territories that surround them and doing whatever it takes to secure their family’s individual securities. This sense of family and love transcends the narrative, making me root for an otherwise horrible organization built on a business of blood and money. In its over three-hour runtime, we watch the Corleone Family tighten their grip, loosen it, get beaten down, and climb back on top. Their mafia ways are romanticized, allowing me to invest in this set of characters who look out for one another. And man, does this story feature a set of characters. Led by the prolific Marlon Brando, this cast is legendary, sporting the likes of Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall amongst others. They’re fantastic, both individually and with each other; the chemistry is eclectic, and makes for an engaging experience. While there are several characters to mention, hardly any are small parts. I mean, look at all the names I credited above! Each name I saw attached to this title, I had to write them down. The roles are all memorable because this story is remarkable. Of course, in a mordern age full of hundreds of thousands of films (and a ton of mafia flicks), it is difficult to gleam fresh aspects from the narrative, but the characters, cinematography, and journey that is displayed on-screen is unforgettable. Because there are a ton of working pieces, the film flies by in a flash. Time jumps through the seasons, many dilemmas arise, and several characters fall in the process. Coppola didn’t approach this wanting the audience to witness a conflict; he wanted to envelop them in this world. A world that, at the time, wasn’t seen in that light. The mafia was shown to be ruthless, its members cold-hearted. Coppola broke the stereotype and presented a family that just wants to provide for itself. Obviously, that comes with a hunger for power, but in no way did I see the Corleones as villains. I wanted to see them succeed, and the ending only proved to be a gut-punch delivered by a well-developed character arc. There’s a lot of details poured into this story, both internally and externally. You get to see many characters go on their own ventures, arriving at different conclusions; all the while, the main plot unfolds, shaping what will be the future of the Corleone Family as a whole. It’s these character studies that I enjoy most and find myself heavily engaged in. I guess the only thing I wished was that I had not seen any other mobster flick (or small parody moment of Vito Corleone) beforehand. It certainly skewed my experience watching it; had this be the first of its genre that I have seen, I would’ve been more blown away. But, I can’t help that. All I can do is recommend you see it if you haven’t. It’s not my favorite movie of all time, but it is certainly one of the best made films I have seen. Truly the best mobster flick out there (from what I have seen thus far). FINAL SCORE: 98%= Juicy Popcorn
This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.
Here is the trailer: