The world inside the underworld!

“The Godfather” is a huge piece of film entertaining, involving sentiment, nostalgia, filial affection, pride, integrity, loyalty, corruption, honor, betrayal and crime… Within weeks of its release, it was clearly a blockbuster, a cinematic phenomenon, an exquisite Mafia epic with outstanding performances… Coppola got everything right, creating a landmark in American cinema…

His film acutely details the inner workings of the criminal “families,” and the ruthlessness of those in organized crime, but also examines their steadfast loyalty, love for blood relations, and code of ethics… Coppola and Puzo subtly weave a complex narrative with themes of hypocrisy, power, and corruption which stands as a pulsating reflection of our uncertain times…

With his raspy voice, deliberate movements, and penetrating stare, Brando creates a personage that will be remembered for ever… The line “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” has reached legendary statues… Brando’s Don Corleone is the moral center of the film: a tough, wise, feared old Sicilian who has risen to become an all powerful leader in an empire of Italian-American organized crime…

While crime may be the first image that comes into one’s mind in the film, violence plays a vital part in this complicated tale… Brando is the head of one of the five families who are said to control the Mafia in the area of New York… He is opposed to any involvement in drugs, and refuses to risk his political contacts and prestige for such putrefied money… He is behind the time but he understands that society is not alarmed by “liquor, gambling, and even women…” He is also a loving family man… His sons, relatives and friends are part of his operations… He despises displays of weakness… He understands the strength of power and his wordless sympathy for Michael when he is forced to assume the “sovereignty.” In the outdoor garden, father and son are affectionate to each other, but cannot express their emotions openly…

The Corleones are a warm, close family and the motion picture (with l0 Oscar Nominations) shows the flavor of Italian-American home life… Don Corleone is an undisputed patriarch, and as played by Brando, he has almost the manner of a religious leader… His voice is quite and rasping, his chin stands as a symbol of his authority, and men kisses his hand as they ask for his favors… He is a charismatic leader and his eyes reflect his kind heart as his implacability…

Pacino’s gradual and subtle transformation is the heart of the film… From a gentle man to one of the most cunning, ruthless, and cold-blooded man ever to come on the screen, he has learned from his father never to talk in front of outsiders and always keep his own counsel… His commandment “Never to take sides against the Family.”

The opening shot of “The Godfather” sets the tone of the film as Don Corleone and some of his family listen to an undertaker, Amerigo Bonasera (Salvatore Cirsitto), pleading for justice for the near-rape and brutal beating suffered by his daughter…

Attending the wedding of his sister Connie to young bookmaker Carlo Rizzi, Michael, a highly decorated Marine captain from World War II, points out the other guests to Kate (Diane Keaton), his non-Italian girlfriend… In the same time Coppola introduces us to his large cast of characters:

Sonny (James Caan), the rough, hot-headed impulsive kid who never really grew up; Fredo (John Cazale), the troubled, shy, weak young man who can’t seem to do anything right; Tom (Robert Duvall), the right-hand man, the legal adviser and adopted son to the Godfather? steady, reliable, always thinking, always controlled; Connie (Talia Shire), the battered wife and rebellious sister, who achieves and promotes the movie’s most horrific scene; Johnny Fontane (Al Martine), the idol star whose tears set up the shocking moment when a movie “big shot” named Jack Woltz (John Marley) finds himself in an horrifying pool of blood; Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana), the giant criminal thug, one of Corleone’s most trusted enforcers; Tessio (Abbe Vigoda), the fearsome tall enforcer who implies the possibility of violent revenge guaranteeing Michael’s safety; and Clemenza (Richard Castellano), the other faithful enforcer…

With a beautiful score by Nino Rota immensely memorable, Coppola’s motion picture remains a triumph, nearly perfect in its execution, composition, and impact…

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