The Godfather (1972)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola
It's a movie where nearly every scene is striking and memorable, a movie that consists of set piece after set piece flawlessly connected, with literally dozens of images and scenarios that stay with you for a long time after you see it. It is father to Goodfellas and grandfather to The Sopranos, an inarguably great tough guy classic that essentially invented mafia chic. It's one of the few universally acknowledged classics that I look at and think, "You know what? It's really not overrated at all."
What more to say? It's a grand soap opera, it's lowbrow art, it's full of career making performances and brilliant photography. The music is moving, alternatingly subtle and infused with appropriate grandeur. Its tertiary characters and performances are excellent. This time around, I was struck by how great Alex Rocco is as Moe Greene how many times can you say you were honestly struck by how great Alex Rocco was in something?
Pacino is deeply, deeply amazing here, but of course it's Brando's show. As much as this role gets parodied (and by the way, so-called comedians and screenwriters: give it up, it's been almost thirty years already), when you go back and see the real thing, you can't help but be struck by the depth and the nuance. I guess it's like reading Homer in the original Greek. My generation knows Brando as the fat insane guy waddling around in a diaper, but The Godfather, more than anything else, is why anyone even cares.
It's Songs in the Key of Life, it's "The Dark Knight Returns," it's the '60 Corvette, it's Blue Highways, it's "Law & Order," it's Newman's Own Virgin Lemonade, it's Miles Davis, it's Godiva, it's PlayStation 2. I'm not one of those people (like the Tom Hanks character in You've Got Mail) who thinks that everything you need in life can be found in The Godfather, nor would I call it my favorite (or "the best") movie of all time. It's certainly a bit of a slog during the Sicily sequence, and frankly, the blood looks pretty fake across the board. But it's a goddamn great movie, no question about it. See it, or see it again.
I suppose the only other thing I have to offer is that I still think it's better than Part II, no matter what all the old folks say. I mean, come on, this is the one with the severed horse head!
Review by Kenneth J. Loggins