Arguably one of the greatest films ever made, “The Godfather” remains a timeless classic. A critical and commercial success, the film chronicles a Mafia family through several generations and is deeply steeped in themes we all grapple with – love, hatred, greed, envy and the multifaceted relationships we have with ourselves. The Oscar-award winning film generates rich glimpses into the world of New York through a very specific, power-centric lens.
Our Love of Bad Boys
The public’s unquenchable thirst for crime drama and the quintessential tale of the anti-hero was sated by the film’s release in 1972. The first of a trilogy, “The Godfather” remained high in our cinematic consciousness and each sequel was highly anticipated and well received.
The story centers on Mafia Don, Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando in the first film and Robert De Niro in the second. Corleone’s son Michael was played by Al Pacino in all three films. The relationship between the aging Don and Michael, a war hero, who despite early misgivings, is to become the family’s next patriarch, form the basis for much of the story. Based on bestselling author Mario Puzo’s book of the same name, the film was produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola also co-wrote the screenplay with Puzo.
America’s love affair with bad boys goes back to scraggly Jesse James and the colloquial outlaws of the wild, wild West. Coppola’s portrayal of New York’s notorious, mobster “Five Families” and the lives of crime they lived, fed into this mindset elegantly without compromising the gritty realism required to tell the tale accurately.
A Stellar Cast
“The Godfather’s” cast reads like a Hollywood who’s who. In addition to Brando and Pacino, the film starred Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, an orphan taken into the family by Corleone, Diane Keaton as Michael’s girlfriend, Kay, James Caan as oldest son, Sonny Corleone and the legendary Lee Strasberg as mobster Hyman Roth. Talia Shire, Coppola’s sister, plays the Don’s daughter, Connie. A brilliant supporting cast included Richard S. Castellano, John Cazale, Abe Vigoda and Sterling Hayden. Coppola’s daughter, Sophia, who would go on to star in “Godfather Part III,” the third and final movie in the trilogy, appears briefly in this film as a male infant and the godson of Michael.
What Fans Can Enjoy Next
Fans will be happy to hear about the restoration project undertaken by Coppola and his team, including archivist Robert Harris and Paramount’s Executive Vice President of Post Production, Martin Cohen. Under Coppola’s supervision, all three original “Godfather” films have undergone meticulous restoration and are now available in high definition on blu-ray disc with 5.1 digital surround sound. Also featured are the director’s notes and commentary and special features which explore the saga’s cultural impact.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.