CLASSIC REEL: The Godfather

Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, John Cazale and Talia Shire

Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

Year of Release: 1972

PlotDon Corleone, head of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his youngest son.

Today marks the 45th anniversary of The Godfather; a movie that catapulted a then unknown Al Pacino to stardom. Movie director Francis Coppola's insistence that Pacino played the godfather's youngest son, Michael Corleone paid off- as the actor portrayed one of the most iconic characters in film history.
The film was adapted from Mario Puzo's bestselling novel of the same name; the screenplay written by Mario Puzo and Francis Coppolla.

Don Vito Corleone was played by the late veteran actor, Marlon Brando- a performance that earned him  an Oscar for Best Actor, Sonny Corleone-his eldest son- was  played by James Caan, Robert Duvall played the family's adopted son and consigliere  Tom Hagen, the late John Cazale played the middle son  Fredo and Talia Shire (Francis Copolla's sister) played the only daughter, Connie.

A first time viewer would immediately see that Michael (Pacino) was the 'black sheep' of the family; he showed up at Connie's wedding with his girlfriend (Diane Keaton) on his arm, wearing his US Marines uniform. And in spite of assuring Kay he was not in his father's world and will never be (Vito hoped likewise), he was thrown right smack into it after Don Vito's attempted murder.

One minute, he and Kay were happily doing some Christmas shopping, later Michael is shooting Sollozzo (who ordered the hit on his father) and his bodyguard, the corrupt police officer McCluskey, before fleeing to Sicily.

And once Michael pulled the trigger, it was the beginning of Michael's progression from a college student/war veteran to a Mafia Boss, far more ruthless than his father before him.  It was obvious who was going to be the next Don Corleone- what later happened to Sonny (his hot temper had already raised questions on if he was fit to be Don anyway), Fredo was sensitive and weak, while Tom- not being a blood Corleone or Sicilian-was a definite no. Hence Michael had to take on the reins, the sequels showed it was a decision that cost him a lot.
 And being  a crime drama, violence was expected... all of them memorable. For instance, there was the infamous 'horse scene', where the egotistical film producer Jack Woltz (who was obviously a dirty old man who didn't like to lose), found something terrifying under his sheets after refusing the Don's offer in exchange for him casting his godson in his new movie.

                                      There was the trap Sonny unfortunately fell into...

                                             When Michael lost his first wife...


                                             And when Michael settled accounts...

 Ironically, Michael wanted no part of all this but he could be seen as a victim of circumstances but in sequels, he can described as a classic tragic hero. It's amazing how he was in the beginning of the movie, an unassuming soldier just returned from the war, but at the end; a man totally different, which Kay could not fail to see.

And let's not forget the most memorable  quotes...

Don Vito Corleone: I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

Sonny Corleone: What you think this is the army where you shoot them a mile away, you got to get them close like this and Bada-Bing! You blow your brains over your nice Ivy League suit.

Fredo Corleone:
 Mike! You don't come to Las Vegas and talk to a man like Moe Greene like that!
Michael Corleone:'re my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.

Michael Corleone:
 My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Kay Adams: What was that?
Michael Corleone: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains, or his signature, would be on the contract. That's a true story. That's my family, Kay. It's not me.

Sollozzo: I am sorry. What happened to your father was business. I have much respect for your father. But your father, his thinking is old-fashioned. You must understand why I had to do that. Now let's work through where we go from here.

Michael Corleone: You have to answer for Santino, Carlo. You fingered Sonny for the Barzini people.
Carlo Rizzi: Mike, you got it all wrong.
Michael Corleone: Ah, that little farce you played with my sister. You think that would fool a Corleone?
Carlo Rizzi: Mike, I'm innocent. I swear on the kids.
Michael Corleone: Sit down.
Carlo Rizzi: Please don't do this to me, Mike. Please don't.

Clemenza: Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

Don Vito Corleone:
 You can act like a man! What's the matter with you? Is this how you turned out, a Hollywood finocchio that cries like a woman? Ah what can I do? What can I do?   



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