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July 26, 2019

Godfather Part 1 (1972) --- “An Offer You Can’t Refuse.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     In the 1940s"Don" Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), is the head of the New York Mafia family and has since “moved away” from the days of violence in favor of a life of peace and prosperity without all the bloodshed. The family’s business is very much like it’s head, kind and benevolent to those who give respect but ruthlessly violent to those who stand against the good of the family. When an attempt is made on Vito’s life, it is left up to his sons, Sonny (James Caan) and Michael (Al Pacino), and his adoptive son Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) to take control of his dynasty and fight to keep Vito alive. As the Don’s fading old world values clash with the explosive ways of the next generation, the survival of the family demands a high price to be paid, specifically from Michael. Can Michael and his brothers do what needs to be done for the sake of the family? Or will they be responsible for destroying their family’s legacy?

     Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part 2) and co-written by Mario Puzo (The Godfather Part 2 & 3), The Godfather (1972) is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made and it is without a doubt a cinematic masterpiece. The film is based on the bestselling fictional novel by Mario Puzo and since it follows the book almost exactly, detail-by-detail, the film is nearly three hours in length. And yet even at such a length, the film never fails to keep audiences captivated from beginning to end. 
     The world in which this film takes place is incredible. Rather than using the same cliche and overused elements of detectives trying to uncover and take down the Mafia, the film instead makes the Mafia the main focus. As a result, audiences are given the opportunity to connect with the characters and gain an understanding behind their motivations, while the rest of the world and the law simply lie in the background as small and insignificant moments of angst. The bulk of the drama and conflict happens primarily between the different Mafia families but The Godfather doesn’t try to glorify the Mafia. Sure there are moments when the film paints a picture of having a pretty cool lifestyle but their actions are never justified as being right. In fact, while we know the characters were simply trying to ensure the survival of their family the film takes great care in showcasing the consequences of their actions. All in all, the story is a tragic one about loyalty, power, revenge, internal strife, and betrayal and every component is held together beautifully. 
     Now the cast performances are a major highlight of the film and take a lot of inspiration from real-life Mafia members. Marlon Brando’s (Apocalypse Now) iconic performance as Don Vito Corleone was inspired by Gambino crime boss Sam "Boom Boom" Giancana. Al Martino’s (The Godfather Part III) unforgettable performance as Johnny Fontaine was inspired by Frank Sinatra. Now I believe that is was Al Pacino’s (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) performance as Michael Corleone that stole the show with the incredible evolution of his character. He evolves from being the rebellious youngest son who doesn’t want anything to do with the “family business” to being the guy who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family and get revenge against those who seek to harm them. The rest of the cast such as Robert Duvall (Secondhand Lions, Widows), James Caan (Rollerball), Diane Keaton (Book Club, Poms), and Al Lettieri (The Getaway) also gave great and unforgettable performances. Audiences will fall in love with these characters from the very beginning, we’ll root for their success and cry at their failures. 
     Overall, The Godfather (1972) is a cinematic masterpiece that doesn’t try to glorify the harsh, underground world of the Mafia but it does an incredible job bringing it to light. It broke box office records that couldn’t be beaten until Jaws came out in 1975, earned its fair share of Academy Awards including “Best Picture of the Year,” and inspired two successful sequels that bring the story full circle. The cast performances were iconic and unforgettable, and the cinematography was incredible and unlike anything, I have seen before. All in all, it is no wonder why this film is a top contender on any “100 Must Watch Films” list. If you have not seen this film, then I urge you to do so as soon as you can as you won’t be disappointed if you do.

Final Vote --- 9.5 of 10 stars

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