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The Godfather Movie Review

corleone coppola awards ford

1972 – Francis Ford Coppola –

From the opening scene of a Mafia princess’ wedding to the brilliant closing sequence of a baby's christening interlaced with multiple murders, The Godfather illuminates the dichotomy of Mafia—and in some ways, American—values. Family, friendship, loyalty, togetherness: all are evident and all are expendable as this story of the Corleone crime family unfolds. Director Francis Ford Coppola provides enough teasing glimpses of actual history, like Frank Sinatra's comeback in a war movie, to captivate a knowledgeable audience.

The juxtaposition of graphic violence with homey moments makes this movie unforgettable: Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) buying an orange before he is gunned down, Michael's (Al Pacino) girlfriend Kay (Diane Keaton) enjoying lasagna as she learns about the grim family business, a brother-in-law sent to execution after a quiet family glass of brandy. Surprisingly, Michael the son, and not the Don, is the central character, and his transformation shapes the Puzo pop novel into a motion picture of depth. Michael returns home as a soldier hero from World War II, following the Don, his father's, dream that he succeed in legitimate ways, perhaps, becoming the first Italian president. But when the Godfather is shot and elder brother Sonny murdered, Michael's courage and determination press him into the family service of murder, exile, and revenge. By the end, the American hero is coolly, rationally commanding a crime empire.

Brando had to audition for the role of Don Corleone, competing with studio candidates such as Lawrence Olivier and George C. Scott. Warren Beatty declined the role of Michael. Director Francis Ford Coppola was third choice as director, behind Arthur Penn and Peter Yates. The end result is one of the greatest movies ever made.

Cast: Marlon Brando (Vito Corleone), Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), James Caan (Sonny Corleone), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Richard Castellano (Clemenza), Sterling Hayden (Captain McCluskey), Diane Keaton (Kay Adams), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), John Marley (Jack Woltz), Talia Shire (Connie Corleoe Rizzi), Giaani Russo (Carlo Rizzi), Al Martino (Johnny Fontane), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Lenny Montana (Luca Brasi) Screenwriter: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo Cinematographer: Gordon Wills Composer: Nino Rota Producer: Albert S. Ruddy and Gray Frederickson for Paramount MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 175 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1972: Actor (Marlon Brando), Adapted Screenplay, Picture; Nominations: Costume Design, Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Editing, Sound, Supporting Actor (James Caan, Robert Duvall, Al Pacino); Directors Guild of America Award, 1972: Director (Francis Ford Coppola); Golden Globe Awards, 1973: Actor—Drama (Marlon Brando), Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Film—Drama, Screenplay, Score; National Board of Review Awards, 1972: Ten Best Films of the Year, Supporting Actor (Al Pacino); New York Film Critics Awards, 1972: Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall); National Society of Film Critics Awards, 1972: Actor (Al Pacino); Writers Guild of America Awards, 1972: Adapted Screenplay Box Office: $85.7M (initial release).

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