Rating: 9 out of 10.

Where else to start?

Ah… The Godfather. The seminal classic widely regarded as one of the best films of all time. The question is – is it?

I’m just going to come out and say it. I’ve never watched The Godfather before. This was my first. Go on, spit on me all you like. But I think it will give me a fresh interpretation of the film.

To those who don’t know what happens – I emphasise with you – I’ll give a quick debrief. Released in 1972, the Godfather is an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s book, by the same name. Marlon Brando stars as the Godfather himself, Don Vito Corleone. After rejecting an offer from drug baron Sollozzo, all hell breaks loose, and there is open warfare between the five New York families. Most of Vito’s top men are killed – Luca Brasi and Sonny Corleone being two – whilst there are attempts on both him and his son, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). Don Corleone eventually suffers a heart attack and dies, leading to Michael taking over the reigns and a lot of bloodshed.

Like all the greats in the mafia genre, The Godfather is based around the family and ‘the family‘, and Michael’s transition from one to the other. The first – the classic Italian life. A big wedding full of wonderful food, vibrant dancing and brilliant exhilaration, and a young, proud former Marine sitting at the back with his girlfriend, who’s father insists they can’t have a photo without.

To the second, and most people’s favourite, is perfectly summed up when Michael goes to Vegas to meet Moe Green. He’s cool, calm and collected, unlike his counterpart who’s fidgety and angry in his quaked disbelief. Frederico ‘Fredo’ Corleone (John Cazale – starring in some of the best films ever made in such a brief career), Michael’s brother, backs Moe in the argument, for old times sake, challenging Mike’s leadership. This leads to the bone chilling, “Fredo. Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” Man, there are a lot of good quotes in this film.

It’s a three hour long blockbuster, and no doubt thrilling. It’s inspired so many films since it’s countless. The quick moving, always in shadows, muted browns and blacks, it has long been the kingpin of the movie business. But the best? Now here’s the question.

The film is excellent. As you can see, I’ve rewarded it with a pretty prestigious nine out of ten. However, the best is a reward too illustrious for any film. First of all, it gives the audience too much breathing space: the wedding at the beginning, being a prime example.

The story isn’t always gripping at times. I didn’t feel obliged to watch the whole film through. In fact, I stopped at the two hour mark and watched the rest the next day. All the characters are brilliant, there’s no doubt about that. But maybe it feels there is a touch too much death.

Made in 1972, has The Godfather aged like vintage wine, or soured like gone-off milk? Well, it certainly hasn’t soured, but it hard to say it’s improved. Can we compare it at all to modern films? That genre doesn’t really exist anymore, and we only usually find it in TV series like the Sopranos or Breaking Bad. We no longer have gangster movies with moral questions about redemption, revenge and punishment, only Superhero films with narrow narrative arcs and facile action scenes. Compared to some of the best films made in the 21st century, it is far superior. Searching into the back of my mind, there isn’t much comparison to Lost In Translation, by Coppola’s daughter, about a sense of loneliness and isolation, or Spielberg’s The Post, it’s self harking back to ’76s All The President’s Men.

Best character: Peter Clemenza. Bold, I’ll admit, but my personal favourite. He’s the typical fat capo of the family, and always faithful. Who could forget, “Leave the gun – take the cannoli”. A great line that sums him up as a dead Paulie lies slumped on the seat. He also teaches Michael how to make a pasta sauce, which is the sign of any great Italian film. Big Night Out, anyone?

Least favourite character: Sonny Corleone. The hot headed son of Vito eventually gets his, the character, played by James Caan, feels like he’s just lacking a bit of range. It’s harsh, because there isn’t really a ‘bad’ character in there. Or should I say, good character…

Favourite scene: There can be none better than the final scene, where Kay, Michael’s wife, stands at the door staring at the new Godfather, who just said he didn’t kill his own sister’s husband, his godson’s father, having loyalty pledged by Clemenza among others, the door slowly closing. It’s beyond a pastiche.

Best quote: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” What else!?

So, The Godfather. A great film – but incomparable. See you next time!

The Godfather – 9 out of 10.

5 Comments

  1. johnrieber says:

    Two things: first, I have now followed you and look forward to your upcoming posts on movies, music and more. Second: this is, to me, the greatest film of all time…I have posted about it many times on my blog, from behind-the-scenes trivia to the recipe for Clemeza’s meatballs and more…oh, and I’m friends with Alison Martino – you know, Johnny Fontaine’s daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the follow! Much appreciated. I need to get back in the groove of movie reviewing but I’m incredibly busy with work till around summertime, so thankfully I shouldn’t be clogging your reader.

      Glad you love the Godfather too – it is, without a doubt, one of the best. Whether I’d have it at number one is another discussion; Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now are just as miraculous. Reading back this post I can see how neutered some of my writing is, so I’m definitely going to revisit it again later on. Rewatched it a few weeks back on the big screen for its anniversary, and I think it was my favourite screening yet. Just gets better and better.

      And it looks like I’ll be taking some inspiration from you too! I’m envious of how incredibly well versed you are in the Godfather universe. Clemenza’s recipe I’ll have to make – an all time favourite scene. Great to have you, John!

      Like

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