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Godfather: Part I, The (1972)

Original Title : Godfather, The
Director : Francis Ford Coppola
Writer : Francis Ford Coppola
Mario Puzo
Genre : Crime
Drama
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Gray Frederickson , Albert S. Ruddy
Music : Carmine Coppola
Ray Evans
Johnny Farrow
Jay Livingston
Nino Rota
Marty Symes
Photography : Gordon Willis
Distributor : Paramount Pictures [us]
IMDB ID : 0068646
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poster for "Godfather: Part I, The" by Francis Ford Coppola (1972)
Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
 

Starring

Marlon Brando Don Vito Corleone
Al Pacino Michael 'Mike' Corleone
Al Pacino Michael 'Mike' Corleone
 

Plot

Don Vito Corleone is the head of a New York Mafia "family". Problems arise when a gangster supported by another Mafia family, Sollozzo, announces his intentions to start selling drugs all over New York. Don Vito hates the idea of drugs, and he is quite happy with the gambling/protection etc. that make him money, so an attempt is made on his life. Sollozzo then kidnaps one of Don Vitos advisors, and tries to make him force Don Vitos son to agree to sell drugs, but the plan goes wrong when Sollozzo finds out that Don Vito is still alive.
 

Comments

Solid, classy, all but perfect yet not quite great What happened to the sure-footed director of this film?How did his impeccable craftsmanship ever give rise to such things as the slipshod, overwrought "Dracula"? SPOILERS FOLLOW It's hard to say, but there IS that moment near the end, which some mistake for a climax or even a turning point:Michael is in church, at the Christening ceremony of his sister's child, his henchmen are in various positions around the city (one in Nevada), poised to murder the Corleone family's most powerful enemies and rivals.Coppola introduces a device he had hitherto studiously avoided: fast cross cutting."Do you, Michael Corleone, renounce Satan?" asks a priest.Cut to some act of violence.Cut back to Michael: "I do."Cut to violence."And all his works?"Cut: Blam!Michael: "I do."Cut: anotherstylishly staged shooting.It's a wonder Francis Ford Coppola doesn't write the words "Please note the irony" across the screen. I don't fault the decision to use rapid, gliding montage at this point, given that it ISN'T a key moment, merely one that plays out decisions we had seen made earlier, but there's no denying that in the way it's done Coppola both hits us over the head and goes over the top (some of the killings are too operatic for what is essentially a stealth operation) - although thankfully, less far over the top than he probably planned, since the gravitational pull of his carefully made world remains strong. I must stress that this excess doesn't matter HERE.I mention it because it's perhaps the seed of something that would grow and grow and ultimately choke later Coppola films.Just a thought."The Godfather" itself is perfectly crafted and shaded.There's the well realised and well photographed settings, both 1940s New York and timeless Sicily, there's the believability and depth (when The Don is shot and thought to be dead, the tears look unforced and REAL, which I doubt you could say of those in any other gangster film), there's the sense that we know these people, culturally homogenous yet not at all the same.There's Nino Rota's wonderful score.I don't think this is a GREAT film, in the sense that so many other people seem to think it is.It doesn't matter. Interestingly, the morning of the day I saw "The Godfather" (I'd seen it before, but this was the first actual screening), someone wrote to me to protest that my harsh comments on Marlon Brando based on his performance in another film ("Viva Zapata!") were unfair.What I'd said had struck me as obvious: that Brando's introspective style reveals his character far more to him than it does to us, that he acts without INTERacting, failing to mesh with the rest of the cast, that he mumbles too much.In my reply I had to admit that I hadn't seen many Brando performances, and of the earlier ones, only Zapata.I was almost going to admit that his performance in "The Godfather" was faultless.A good thing I didn't!When I saw it again I realised that Brando may have sufficient grip on his character not to let the film down, but just barely, again, he introspects too much, interacts too little, and mumbles. Yet the acting in "The Godfather" and the film overall are too strong for this to matter in the least.
 
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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Godfather: Part I, The (1972) - Francis Ford Coppola
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