Francis Ford Coppola took some of the deep background from the life of Mafia chief Vito Corleone--the patriarch of Mario Puzo's bestselling novel The Godfather
--and built around it a stunning sequel to his Oscar-winning, 1972 hit film. Robert De Niro plays Vito as a young Sicilian immigrant in turn-of-the-century New York City's Little Italy. Coppola weaves in and out of the story of Vito's transformation into a powerful crime figure, contrasting that evolution against efforts by son Michael Corleone to spread the family's business into pre-Castro Cuba. As memorable as the first film is, The Godfather II
is an amazingly intricate, symmetrical tragedy that touches upon several chapters of 20th-century history and makes a strong case that our destinies are written long before we're born. This was De Niro's first introduction to a lot of filmgoers, and he makes an enormous impression. But even with him and a number of truly brilliant actors (including maestro Lee Strasberg), this is ultimately Pacino's film and a masterful performance. --Tom Keogh
Francis Ford Coppola directs this Oscar-winning crime drama starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. It is 1958 and Michael Corleone (Pacino) has now fully embraced the trappings of a mafia boss, leading to conflict with his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton). As he attempts to expand his crime empire, he thinks of his late father Vito's rise to power in New York during the 1920s, but all of Michael's attempts to emulate Vito and do the best for his family only pulls them further apart. Robert De Niro plays the young Vito in flashbacks to his early life. Both a prequel and sequel to 'The Godfather' (1972), the film was nominated for eleven Oscars, winning five awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (De Niro).