Generally acknowledged as a bona fide classic, this Francis Ford Coppola film is one of those rare experiences that feels perfectly right from beginning to end--almost as if everyone involved had been born to participate in it. Based on Mario Puzo's bestselling novel about a Mafia dynasty, Coppola's Godfather
extracted and enhanced the most universal themes of immigrant experience in America: the plotting-out of hopes and dreams for one's successors, the raising of children to carry on the good work, etc. In the midst of generational strife during the Vietnam years, the film somehow struck a chord with a nation fascinated by the metamorphosis of a rebellious son (Al Pacino) into the keeper of his father's dream. Marlon Brando played against Puzo's own conception of patriarch Vito Corleone, and time has certainly proven the actor correct. The rest of the cast, particularly James Caan, John Cazale, and Robert Duvall as the rest of Vito's male brood--all coping with how to take the mantle of responsibility from their father--is seamless and wonderful. --Tom Keogh
Francis Ford Coppola directs and co-writes this epic crime drama based on the novel by Mario Puzo. In late 1940s New York, Mafia 'Godfather' Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) gathers his three sons around him for daughter Connie (Talia Shire)'s wedding; the hot-headed Sonny (James Caan), ineffectual Fredo (John Cazale) and war hero Michael (Al Pacino), who chooses to distance himself from the family 'business'. When Vito is shot and wounded for refusing to sanction a rival family's heroin sales on his territory, Sonny temporarily takes over and embarks on bloody gang warfare. This results in him being killed in an ambush, and Michael finds himself nominated to succeed the ailing Vito. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Brando and Best Adapted Screenplay, and was followed by two sequels.