Originally released in 1972, this Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather: Part II) film has more than stood the test of time. It is still considered by most as the preeminent mob/gangster/mafia film ever made and one of the best films of all time. Forty-five years later it is still highly watchable. For film fans this is a must watch. No matter if you are normally a fan of the genre or not. It is that good.

91JP7ZvaI7L._SL1500_Based on the Mario Puzo novel, The Godfather tells the tale of a crime family in which the head decides it is time to turn over control to his selected successor. Easier said than done as they say and an internal war begins. To elevate a simple story like this above average you have to have everyone involved in the film clicking on a high level. First is the script. Wisely, Francis Ford Coppola decided to work with Puzo himself. The two have translated a highly readable novel into a watchable, engaging and at times poignant film. You get to know and understand the characters which allows you to be involved in the story.

Next up is having a director with a strong idea about how to present the story. This is Francis Ford Coppola best film. He understands that to elevate this over a simple mafia film he would have to make the story more involved. That is accomplished by focusing on the family element. That theme runs through everything. Playing on the love of family and as such it is hard to judge the characters’ actions. Ford Coppola’s vision is accentuated by his right and left hands. The cinematography (Gordon Willis – Presumed Innocent, Annie Hall) is sumptuous. Editing is precise.

Finally, the acting is great. Ford Coppola has assembled quite a cast here with Brando, Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and Abe Vigoda making up just a small (but uber talented) portion of the large cast. Pacino shines in the film as one of the sons. He is onscreen the most and you never tire of him. You cannot picture anyone else other than Brando as the head of the family. His Vito is powerful but respected.

And I haven’t even gone into how good the score is…

Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) and his youngest son, Michael (played by Al Pacino), are the brains behind the Corleone crime empire. Vito has made the Corleone name one to respect and fear in the mob world of New York. His son Michael has always tried to establish his independence and does so by defying his father and enlisting in the army during World War II. He has also not shown any interest in the family business up until now. Michael comes home a war hero and at the wedding of his sister, Connie (played by Talia Shire), he arrives with his non-Italian girlfriend, Kay (played by Diane Keaton).

Everything changes for the Corleone family and especially Michael when Vito is shot and barely survives the assassination attempt. After saving his father from a second assassination attempt, Michael convinces his brother Sonny (played by James Caan) and family advisors (played by Abe Vigoda and Robert Duvall) that he should take over control of the family. Michael wants revenge on those who tried to kill his father. After killing a police captain and the drug trafficker Michael is forced to hide out in Sicily.

Upon his return Michael is once again in training to become the don of the Corleone family. After his brother is murdered and he marries Kay, the Corleone family goes through a period of prosperity. He then decides to once again seek revenge on the family’s enemies.

One of those rare films that really does not have any weaknesses. Nothing is poorly done here. Nothing you can say looking back that should have been done differently. Even after multiple viewings.

Special Features:

-Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola


-The Impact of Locations and Music

-Interviews with Filmmakers and Cast

-Corleone Family Tree and Historical Timeline

-Photo Galleries

-Film’s Enduring Influence on Popular Culture