1 Year, 100 Movies: #2 The Godfather (1972)


For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

“The Godfather” is a defining moment of American cinema. It introduced several acting greats, and highlighted the career of another- Marlon Brando. The acting, brooding atmosphere and background music and sounds make it a truly outstanding work. For example, Micheal’s courtship of Apollonia Vitelli (Simonetta Stefanelli) in Sicily is heightened by the sound of summer cicadas in the background. Every step on the pavement, every seat taken, every brush of fabric and every shot fired in this film is absolute perfection. Each moment along the way advances the plot, adds meaning to each of the character’s actions, and delves deeper into the layers of the mob.

The film follows the Corleone family and their criminal exploits over a period of ten years, from 1945 to 1955. The son of Mafia boss Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), Michael (Al Pacino) returns home from war, and following an attempt on the Don’s life, Michael becomes more and more involved in the dark world of organized crime. After he kills a policeman he escapes to Italy for refuge. There he marries Apollonia, but his bride is tragically killed in a car bomb incident intended for him. Michael learns of the murder of his brother Sonny (James Caan) back in America, and goes home. After about a year home, Michael marries Kay (Diane Keaton), and as Vito nears the end of his career, Michael takes the reins of the family business. Soon afterward, Vito collapes and passes away in the tomato patch while playing with Michael’s son Anthony. At the funeral Salvatore Tessio arranges a meeting between Michael and Don Barzini (Richard Conte), signaling the treachery Vito had warned Michael of. On Michael’s orders, the other New York dons and Moe Greene (Alex Rocco) are assassinated. Micheal’s brother in law Carlo (Gianni Russo) is questioned by Michael on his involvement in setting up Sonny’s murder, and he confesses he was contacted by Barzini, and so he is also killed. Michael denies killing Carlo when questioned by his sister and Carlos’ wife Connie (Talia Shire) and his own wife Kay. As Kay watches warily, Michael receives his capos- a term for the leadership of a criminal family, and he is addressed as the new Don Corleone. Thus begins Michael’s full decent into the family business- the focus of the sequel (also an amazing film.)

This film is regarded as the greatest critical success, a beloved film for millions. It was at the time, the highest grossing picture ever made, and remains the box office leader for 1972. It won three Oscars that year for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and for Best Adapted Screenplay for Puzo and Coppola. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the success of this film created two sequels- “The Godfather Part II in 1974 and “The Godfather Part III” in 1990.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:



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