Our August retrospective of classic films by director Francis Ford Coppola opens with his 1972 masterpiece The Godfather – widely regarded as one of the finest films of all time.
Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) returns home from World War II and has no interest in his family’s business, preferring instead to live a quiet, traditional American life. After family patriarch Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is approached with an offer to invest in a heroin trafficking operation, his refusal sparks a bloody war between rival families, leading Michael down a seemingly inevitable path towards a life of crime and violence.
Featuring a legendary, Oscar-winning performance by Brando, and a cavalcade of 1970’s icons including Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, John Cazale, Diane Keaton, James Caan, and Talia Shire, The Godfather is a major cinematic achievement that spawned two sequels, and single-handedly revolutionized the Hollywood gangster picture.
“Although the movie is three hours long, it absorbs us so effectively it never has to hurry. There is something in the measured passage of time as Don Corleone hands over his reins of power that would have made a shorter, faster moving film unseemly.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times
“Coppola uses the peerless dark lens of cinematographer Gordon Willis to capture the eclipse of Pacino’s soul as he casts his commitment to a law-abiding life aside in order to protect his family.” — Keith Phillips, AV Club
“If ever there was a great example of how the best popular movies come out of a merger of commerce and art, The Godfather is it.” — Pauline Kael, New Yorker.