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The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel of the same name. It stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York crime family. The story, spanning 1945 to 1955, chronicles the family under the patriarch Vito Corleone, focusing on the transformation of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.

Paramount Pictures obtained the rights to the novel before it gained popularity for the price of $80,000. Studio executives had trouble finding a director, as their first few candidates turned down the position. They and Coppola disagreed over who would play several characters, in particular Vito and Michael. Filming was done on location and completed earlier than scheduled. The musical score was composed primarily by Nino Rota with additional pieces by Carmine Coppola.

The film was the highest-grossing film of 1972 and was for a time the highest-grossing film ever made. It won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Puzo and Coppola). Its seven other Oscar nominations included Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall for Best Supporting Actor and Coppola for Best Director. It was followed by sequels The Godfather Part II (1974) and The Godfather Part III (1990).

The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinema and one of the most influential, especially in the gangster genre. It was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1990, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and is ranked the second-greatest film in American cinema (behind Citizen Kane) by the American Film Institute.

Plot

In 1945, at his daughter Connie's wedding, Vito Corleone hears requests in his role as the Godfather, the Don of a New York crime family. Vito's youngest son, Michael, who was a Marine during World War II, introduces his girlfriend, Kay Adams, to his family at the reception. Johnny Fontane, a famous singer and godson to Vito, seeks Vito's help in securing a movie role; Vito dispatches his consigliere, Tom Hagen, to Los Angeles to talk the obnoxious studio head, Jack Woltz, into giving Johnny the part. Woltz refuses until he wakes up in bed with the severed head of his prized stallion.

Shortly before Christmas, drug baron Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo, backed by the Tattaglia crime family, asks Vito for investment in his narcotics business and protection through his political connections. Wary of involvement in a dangerous new trade that risks alienating political insiders, Vito declines. Suspicious, Vito sends his enforcer, Luca Brasi, to spy on them. However, a Tattaglia button man garrotes Brasi during Brasi's first meeting with Bruno Tattaglia and Sollozzo. Later Sollozzo has Vito gunned down in the street, then kidnaps Hagen. With Corleone first-born Sonny in command, Hagen is pressured to persuade Sonny to accept Sollozzo's deal, then released. The family receives fish wrapped in Brasi's bullet-proof vest, indicating that Luca "sleeps with the fishes." Vito survives, and at the hospital Michael thwarts another attempt on his father; Michael's jaw is broken by NYPD Captain Marc McCluskey, Sollozzo's bodyguard. Sonny retaliates with a hit on Tattaglia's son. Michael plots to murder Sollozzo and McCluskey: on the pretext of settling the dispute, Michael agrees to meet them in a Bronx restaurant. There, retrieving a planted handgun, he kills both men.

Despite a clampdown by the authorities, the Five Families erupt in open warfare and Vito's sons fear for their safety. Michael takes refuge in Sicily, and his brother, Fredo, is sheltered by the Corleone's Las Vegas casino partner, Moe Greene. Sonny attacks his brother-in-law Carlo on the street for abusing his sister and threatens to kill him if it happens again. When it does, Sonny speeds to their home, but is ambushed at a highway toll booth and riddled with submachine gun fire. While in Sicily, Michael meets and marries Apollonia Vitelli, but a car bomb intended for him takes her life.

Devastated by Sonny's death, Vito moves to end the feuds. Realizing that the Tattaglias are controlled by the now-dominant Don Emilio Barzini, Vito assures the Five Families that he will withdraw his opposition to their heroin business and forgo avenging his son's murder. His safety guaranteed, Michael returns home to enter the family business and marry Kay, who gives birth to two children by the early 1950s.

With his father at the end of his career and his brother too weak, Michael takes the family reins, promising his wife the business will be legitimate within five years. To that end, he insists Hagen relocate to Las Vegas and relinquish his role to Vito because Tom is not a "wartime consigliere"; Vito agrees Tom should "have no part in what will happen" in the coming battles with rival families. When Michael travels to Las Vegas to buy out Greene's stake in the family's casinos, their partner derides the Corleones for being run out of New York; Michael is dismayed to see that Fredo has fallen under Greene's sway.

Vito suffers a fatal heart attack. At the funeral, Tessio, a Corleone capo, asks Michael to meet with Don Barzini, signalling the betrayal that Vito had forewarned. The meeting is set for the same day as the christening of Connie’s baby. While Michael stands at the altar as the child's godfather, Corleone assassins murder the other New York dons and Moe Greene. Tessio is executed for his treachery and Michael extracts Carlo’s confession to his complicity in setting up Sonny's murder for Barzini. A Corleone capo, Clemenza, garrotes Carlo with a wire. Connie accuses Michael of the murder, telling Kay that Michael ordered all the killings. Kay is relieved when Michael finally denies it, but, when the capos arrive, they address her husband as Don Corleone, and she watches as they close the door on her.

Cast

File:TheGodfatherAlPacinoMarlonBrando.jpg

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone

Production

Development

The film is based on Mario Puzo's The Godfather; a novel that remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for 67 weeks and sold over nine million copies in two years.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[4] Published in 1969, it became the best selling published work in history for several years.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paramount Pictures originally found out about Puzo's novel in 1967 when a literary scout for the company contacted then Paramount Vice President of Production Peter Bart about Puzo's sixty-page unfinished manuscript.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Bart believed the work was "much beyond a Mafia story" and offered Puzo a $12,500 option for the work, with an option for $80,000 if the finished work were made into a film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Despite Puzo's agent telling him to turn down the offer, Puzo was desperate for money and accepted the deal.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paramount's Robert Evans relates that, when they met in early 1968, it was he who offered Puzo the $12,500 deal for the 60-page manuscript titled Mafia after the author confided in him that he urgently needed $10,000 to pay off gambling debts.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

In March 1967, Paramount announced that they backed Puzo's upcoming work in the hopes of making a film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". In 1969, Paramount confirmed their intentions to make a film out of the novel for the price of $80,000,[N 1]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[5][6] with aims to have the film released on Christmas Day in 1971.[7] On March 23, 1970, Albert S. Ruddy was officially announced as the film's producer, in part because studio executives were impressed with his interview and because he was known for bringing his films in under budget.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Direction

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Paramount wanted Francis Ford Coppola to direct the film because he would accept a low salary and work with a low budget

Evans wanted the picture to be directed by an Italian American to make the film "ethnic to the core".[8]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paramount's latest mafia based movie, The Brotherhood, had been a box office bomb;[4]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Evans believed that the reason for its failure was its almost complete lack of cast members or creative personnel of Italian descent (the director Martin Ritt and star Kirk Douglas were both Jewish).Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Sergio Leone was Paramount's first choice to direct the film.[9][10] Leone turned down the option to work on his own gangster film Once Upon a Time in America.[9][10] Peter Bogdanovich was then approached but he also declined the offer because he was not interested in the mafia.[11][12][13] In addition, Peter Yates, Richard Brooks, Arthur Penn, Costa-Gavras, and Otto Preminger were all offered the position and declined.[14][15] Evans' chief assistant Peter Bart suggested Francis Ford Coppola, as a director of Italian ancestry who would work for a low sum and budget after the poor reception of his latest film The Rain People.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[8] Coppola initially turned down the job because he found Puzo's novel sleazy and sensationalist, describing it as "pretty cheap stuff".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". At the time Coppola's studio, American Zoetrope, owed over $400,000 to Warner Bros. for budget overruns with the film THX 1138 and when coupled with his poor financial standing, along with advice from friends and family, Coppola reversed his initial decision and took the job.[15][16][17] Coppola was officially announced as director of the film on September 28, 1970.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paramount had offered twelve other directors the job with The Godfather before Coppola agreed.[18] Coppola agreed to receive $125,000 and six percent of the gross rentals.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Coppola and Paramount

Before The Godfather was in production, Paramount had been going through an unsuccessful period.[4] In addition to the failure of The Brotherhood, the studio had usurped their budget for their recent films: Darling Lili,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paint Your Wagon, and Waterloo.[4]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The budget for the film was originally $2.5 million but as the book grew in popularity Coppola argued for and ultimately received a larger budget.[N 2][14][19][20] Paramount executives wanted the movie to be set in then modern-day Kansas City and shot in the studio backlot in order to cut down on costs.[14]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[19] Coppola objected and wanted to set the movie in the same time period as its eponymous novel, the 1940s and 1950s;[14][17]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola's reasons included: Michael Corleone's Marine Corps stint, the emergence of corporate America, and America in the years after World War II.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The executives eventually agreed to Coppola's wish as the novel became increasingly successful.[19]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The studio heads subsequently let Coppola film on location in New York City and Sicily.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Gulf & Western executive Charles Bluhdorn was frustrated with Coppola over the number of screen tests he had performed without finding a person to play the various roles.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Production quickly fell behind because of Coppola's indecisiveness and conflicts with Paramount, which led to costs being around $40,000 per day.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". With the rising costs, Paramount had then Vice President Jack Ballard keep a close eye on production costs.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". While filming, Coppola stated that he felt he could be fired at any point as he knew Paramount executives were not happy with many of the decisions he had made.[14] Coppola was aware that Evans had asked Elia Kazan to take over directing the film, because he feared that Coppola was too inexperienced to cope with the increased size of the production.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola was also convinced that the film editor, Aram Avakian, and the assistant director, Steve Kestner, were conspiring to get him fired. Avakian complained to Evans that he could not edit the scenes correctly because Coppola was not shooting enough footage. Evans however was satisfied with the footage being sent to the west coast, and authorized Coppola to fire them both. Coppola later explained: "Like the godfather, I fired people as a preemptory strike. The people who were angling the most to have me fired, I had fired."Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Brando threatened that he would quit if Coppola were fired.[14]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Paramount wanted The Godfather to appeal to a wide audience and threatened Coppola with a "violence coach" to make the film more exciting. Coppola added a few more violent scenes to keep the studio happy. The scene in which Connie smashes crockery after finding out Carlo has been cheating was added for this reason.[17]

Writing

On April 14, 1970, it was revealed that Puzo was hired by Paramount for $100,000, along with a percentage of the film's profits, to work on the screenplay for the film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Working from the book, Coppola wanted to have the themes of culture, character, power, and family at the forefront of the film, whereas Puzo wanted to retain aspects from his novelScript error: No such module "Footnotes". and his initial draft of 150 pages was finished on August 10, 1970.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". After Coppola was hired as director, both Puzo and Coppola worked on the screenplay, but separately.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Puzo worked on his draft in Los Angeles, while Coppola wrote his version in San Francisco.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola created a book where he tore pages out of Puzo's book and pasted them into the book.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". There, he made notes about each of the book's fifty scenes, which related to major themes prevalent in the scene, whether the scene should be included in the film, along with ideas and concepts that could be used when filming to make the film true to Italian culture.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The two remained in contact while they wrote their respective screenplays and made decisions on what to include and what to remove for the final version.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". A second draft was completed on March 1, 1971 and was 173 pages long.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The final screenplay was finished on March 29, 1971,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". wound up being 163 pages long,Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". 40 pages over what Paramount had asked for.[21] When filming, Coppola referred to the notebook he had created over the final draft of the screenplay.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Screenwriter Robert Towne did uncredited work on the script, particularly on the Pacino-Brando garden scene.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Despite finishing the third draft, some scenes in the film were still not written yet and were written during production.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

The Italian-American Civil Rights League wanted all uses of the words "mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" to be removed from the script, in addition to feeling that the film emphasized stereotypes about Italian-Americans.[7][22][23][24] The league also requested that all the money earned from the premier be donated to the league's fund to build a new hospital.[23][24] Coppola claimed that Puzo's screenplay only contained two instances of the word "mafia" being used, while "Cosa Nostra" was not used at all.[23][24] Those two uses were removed and replaced with other terms, which Coppola felt did not change the story at all.[23][24] The league eventually gave its support for the script.[23][24]

Casting

File:Al Pacino - Hummel.jpg

Al Pacino (pictured above in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel) was chosen to portray Michael Corleone

Puzo was first to show interest in having Marlon Brando portray Don Vito Corleone by sending a letter to Brando in which he stated Brando was the "only actor who can play the Godfather."Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Despite Puzo's wishes, the executives at Paramount were against having Brando play the part due to the poor success of his recent films and his short temper.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[19] Coppola favored Brando or Laurence Olivier for the role,Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[25] but Olivier's agent refused the role claiming Olivier was sick;Script error: No such module "Footnotes". however, Olivier went on to star in Sleuth later that year.[25] The studio mainly pushed for Ernest Borgnine to receive the part.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Other considerations were George C. Scott, Richard Conte, Anthony Quinn, and Orson Welles.[26]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[27]

After months of debate between Coppola and Paramount over Brando, the two finalists for the role were Borgnine and Brando,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". the latter of which Paramount president Stanley Jaffe required to perform a screen test.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola did not want to offend Brando and stated that he needed to test equipment in order to set up the screen test at Brando's California residence.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". For make-up, Brando stuck cotton balls in his cheeks,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". put shoe polish in his hair to darken it, and rolled his collar.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola placed Brando's audition tape in the middle of the videos of the audition tapes as the Paramount executives watched them.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The executives were impressed with Brando's efforts and allowed Coppola to cast Brando for the role if Brando accepted a lower salary and put up a bond to insure he would not cause any delays in production.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

From the start of production, Coppola wanted Robert Duvall to play the part of Tom Hagen.[7]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". After screen testing several other actors, Coppola eventually got his wish and Duvall was awarded the part of Tom Hagen.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Al Martino, a then famed singer in nightclubs, was notified of the character Johnny Fontane by a friend who read the eponymous novel and felt Martino represented the character of Johnny Fontane.[8] Martino then contacted producer Al Ruddy, who gave him the part.[8] However, Martino was stripped of the part after Coppola became director and then awarded the role to Italian singer Vic Damone.[8] Damone eventually dropped the role because he did not want to play an anti-Italian American character, in addition to being paid too little.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". According to Martino, after being stripped of the role, he went to his godfather and crime boss Russ Bufalino who then orchestrated the publication of various news articles that talked of how Coppola was unaware of Ruddy giving Martino the part; that, when coupled with pressure from the mafia who felt Martino deserved the role, led Damone to quit as Fontane.[8] Either way, the part of Johnny Fontane ended up with Martino.[8]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

File:James Caan (1976).jpg

James Caan (pictured in 1976) was chosen to play Sonny Corleone

Robert De Niro originally was given the part of Paulie Gatto.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". A spot in The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight opened up after Pacino quit the project in favor of The Godfather, which led De Niro to audition for the role and leave The Godfather after receiving the part.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[28] After De Niro quit, Johnny Martino was given the role of Gatto.[8] Coppola cast Diane Keaton for the role of Kay Adams due to her reputation for being eccentric.[29] John Cazale was given the part of Fredo Corleone after Coppola saw him perform in an Off Broadway production.[29] Gianni Russo was given the role of Carlo Rizzi after he was asked to perform a screen test in which he acted out the fight between Rizzi and Connie.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Nearing the start of filming on March 29, Michael Corleone had yet to be cast.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paramount executives wanted a popular actor, either Warren Beatty or Robert Redford.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Producer Robert Evans wanted Ryan O'Neal to receive the role in part due to his recent success in Love Story.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[30] Al Pacino was Coppola's favorite for the role as he could picture Pacino roaming the Sicilian countryside and wanted an unknown actor who looked like an Italian-American.[17]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[30] However, Paramount executives found Pacino to be too short to play Michael.[7][8] Dustin Hoffman, Martin Sheen, and James Caan also auditioned.[29] Caan was well received by the Paramount executives and was given the part of Michael initially, while the role of Sonny Corleone was awarded to Carmine Caridi.[8] Coppola still pushed for Pacino to play Michael after the fact and Evans eventually conceded, allowing Pacino to have the role of Michael as long as Caan played Sonny.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Evans preferred Caan over Caridi because Caan was seven inches shorter than Caridi, which was much closer to Pacino's height.[8] Despite agreeing to play Michael Corleone, Pacino was contracted to star in MGM's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, but the two studios agreed on a settlement and Pacino was signed by Paramount three weeks before shooting began.[31]

Coppola gave several roles in the film to family members.[8] He gave his sister, Talia Shire, the role of Connie Corleone.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". His daughter Sofia played Michael Francis Rizzi, Connie's and Carlo's newborn son.[8][32] Carmine Coppola, his father, appeared in the film as an extra playing a piano during a scene.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola's wife, mother, and two sons all appeared as extras in the picture.[8] Several smaller roles, like Luca Brasi, were cast after the filming had started.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Filming

Before the filming began, the cast received a two-week period for rehearsal, which included a dinner where each actor and actress had to assume character for its duration.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Filming was scheduled to begin on March 29, 1971 with the scene between Michael Corleone and Kay Adams as they leave Best & Co. in New York City after shopping for Christmas gifts.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The weather on March 23 predicted snow flurries, which caused Ruddy to move the filming date forward; however snow never materialized and a snow machine was used.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Principal filming in New York continued until July 2, 1971.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola asked for a three-week break before heading overseas to film in Sicily.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Following the crew's departure for Sicily, Paramount announced that the release date would be moved from December to spring 1972.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

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The Don Barzini assassination scene was filmed on the steps of the New York Supreme Court building on Foley Square in ManhattanScript error: No such module "Footnotes".

Cinematographer Gordon Willis initially turned down the opportunity to film The Godfather because the production seemed "chaotic" to him.[33]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". After Willis later accepted the offer, he and Coppola agreed to not use any modern filming devices, helicopters, or zoom lenses.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Willis and Coppola chose to use a "tableau format" of filming to make it seem if it was viewed like a painting.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". He made use of shadows and low light levels throughout the film to showcase psychological developments.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Willis and Coppola agreed to interplay light and dark scenes throughout the film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Willis underexposed the film in order to create a "yellow tone."Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The scenes in Sicily were shot to display the countryside and "display a more romantic land," giving these scenes a "softer, more romantic" feel than the New York scenes.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

One of the film's most shocking moments involved an actual, severed, horse's head.[17]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola received some criticism for the scene, although the head was obtained from a dog-food company from a horse that was to be killed regardless of the film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". On June 22, the scene where Sonny is killed was shot on a runway at Mitchel Field in Mineola, where three tollbooths were built, along with guard rails, and billboards to set the scene.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Sonny's car was a 1941 Lincoln Continental with holes drilled in it to resemble bullet holes.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The scene took three days to film and cost over $100,000.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Per the request of Coppola, much of the movie was filmed on location.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Around 90 percent of the film was shot in New York City or its surrounding suburbs,[34] using over 120 unique locations.[35] Several scenes were filmed at the Filmways Studio in East Harlem.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The remaining portions were filmed in California, or on-site in Sicily, except for the scenes set in Las Vegas because there were insufficient funds to travel there.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Savoca and Forza d'Agrò were the Sicilian towns featured in the film.[36] The opening wedding scene was shot in a Staten Island neighborhood using almost 750 locals as extras.[34]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The house used as the Corleone household and the wedding location was on Longfellow Road in the Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[37] The wall around the Corleone compound was made from styrofoam.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Scenes set in and around the Corleone olive oil business were filmed on Mott Street.[35]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

After filming had ended on August 7,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". post-production efforts were focused on trimming the film to a manageable length.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". In addition, producers and director were still including and removing different scenes from the end product, along with trimming certain sequences.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". In September, the first rough cut of the film was viewed.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Of the scenes removed from the film, many were centered around Sonny because they did not advance the plot.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". By November, Coppola and Ruddy finished the semifinal cut.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Debates over personnel involved with the final editing remained even 25 years after the release of the film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The film began to be shown to Paramount staff and exhibitors in late December and going into the new year.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Music

Script error: No such module "Labelled list hatnote". Template:Listen Coppola hired Italian composer Nino Rota to create the underscore for the film, including the main theme, "Speak Softly Love".Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". For the score, Rota was to relate to the situations and characters in the film.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Rota synthesized new music for the film and took some parts from his Fortunella score, in order to create an Italian feel and evoke the tragic film's themes.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Paramount executive Evans found the score to be too "highbrow" and did not want to use it; however, it was used after Coppola managed to get Evans to agree.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola believed that Rota's musical piece gave the film even more of an Italian feel.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Coppola's father, Carmine, created some additional music for the film,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". particularly the music played by the band during the opening wedding scene.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". There are a total of nine instances within the film where incidental music can be heard.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

There was a soundtrack released for the film in 1972 in vinyl form by Paramount Records, on CD in 1991 by Geffen Records, and digitally by Geffen on August 18, 2005.[38] The album contains over 31 minutes of music coming from the movie, with most being composed by Rota, along with a song from Coppola and one by Johnny Farrow and Marty Symes.[39][40][41] Allmusic gave the album five out of five stars, with editor Zach Curd saying it is a "dark, looming, and elegant soundtrack."[39] An editor for Filmtracks believed that Rota did a great job of relating the music to the core aspects of the film, which the editor believed to be "tradition, love, and fear."[41]

Release

The world premiere for The Godfather took place in New York City on March 14, 1972, almost three months after the planned release date of Christmas Day in 1971,Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[42] with profits from the premiere donated to The Boys Club of New York.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Before the film premiered, the film had already made $15 million from rentals from over 400 theaters.[19] The following day, the film opened in New York at five theaters.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[8][42] Next was Los Angeles at two theaters on March 22.[43] The Godfather was commercially released on March 24, 1972 throughout the rest of the United States.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".[42] The film reached 316 theaters around the country five days later.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Box office

The Godfather was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records to become the highest grossing film of 1972. It earned $81.5 million in theatrical rentals in the USA & Canada during its initial release,[44] increasing its earnings to $85.7 million through a reissue in 1973,[45] and including a limited re-release in 1997 it ultimately earned an equivalent exhibition gross of $135 million.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". It displaced Gone with the Wind to claim the record as the top rentals earner, a position it would retain until the release of Jaws in 1975.[43][46] News articles at the time proclaimed it was the first film to gross $100 million in North America,[43] but such accounts are erroneous since this record in fact belongs to The Sound of Music, released in 1965.[47] The film repeated its native success overseas, earning in total an unprecedented $142 million in worldwide theatrical rentals, to become the highest net earner.[48] Profits were so high for The Godfather that earnings for Gulf & Western Industries, Inc., which owned Paramount, jumped from 77 cents per share to $3.30 a share for the year, according to a Los Angeles Times article, dated December 13, 1972.[43] To date, it has grossed between $245 million and $286 million in worldwide box office receipts,[49] and adjusted for ticket price inflation in North America, ranks among the top 25 highest-grossing films.[50]

Critical response

The Godfather has received critical acclaim and is seen as one of the most influential films of all time, particularly in the gangster genre.[51][52] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 99% rating based on 84 reviews. It has an average score of 9.2.[53] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a perfect weighted average score of 100 out of 100, based on 14 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "universal acclaim".[52] The film is ranked at the top of Metacritic's top 100 list,[54] and is ranked 7th on Rotten Tomatoes' all-time best list (100% "Certified Fresh").[55]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times praised Coppola's efforts to follow the storyline of the eponymous novel, the choice to set the film in the same time as the novel, and the film's ability to "absorb" the viewer over its three-hour run time.[56] While Ebert was mainly positive, he criticized Brando's performance, saying his movements lacked "precision" and his voice was "wheezy."[56] The Chicago Tribune's Gene Siskel gave the film four out of four stars, commenting that it was "very good."[57] Village Voice's Andrew Sarris believed Brando portrayed Vito Corleone well and that his character dominated each scene it appeared in, but felt Puzo and Coppola had the character of Michael Corleone too focused on revenge.[58] In addition, Sarris stated that Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, and James Caan were good in their respective roles.[58]

Desson Howe of the Washington Post called the film a "jewel" and wrote that Coppola deserves most of the credit for the film.[59] Writing for The New York Times, Vincent Canby felt that Coppola had created one of the "most brutal and moving chronicles of American life" and went on to say that it "transcends its immediate milieu and genre."[60] Director Stanley Kubrick thought the film had the best cast ever and could be the best movie ever made.[61] Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic wrote negatively of the film in a contemporary review, claiming that Pacino "rattles around in a part too demanding for him," while also criticizing Brando's make-up and Rota's score.[62]

Previous mafia films had looked at the gangs from the perspective of an outraged outsider.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". In contrast, The Godfather presents the gangster's perspective of the Mafia as a response to corrupt society.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Although the Corleone family is presented as immensely rich and powerful, no scenes depict prostitution, gambling, loan sharking or other forms of racketeering.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". Some critics argue that the setting of a criminal counterculture allows for unapologetic gender stereotyping, and is an important part of the film's appeal ("You can act like a man!", Don Vito tells a weepy Johnny Fontane).Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

Real-life gangsters responded enthusiastically to the film, with many of them feeling it was a portrayal of how they were supposed to act.[63] Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the former underboss in the Gambino crime family,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". stated: "I left the movie stunned ... I mean I floated out of the theater. Maybe it was fiction, but for me, then, that was our life. It was incredible. I remember talking to a multitude of guys, made guys, who felt exactly the same way." According to Anthony Fiato after seeing the film, Patriarca crime family members Paulie Intiso and Nicky Giso altered their speech patterns closer to that of Vito Corleone's.[64] Intiso would frequently swear and use poor grammar; but after the movie came out, he started to articulate and philosophize more.[64]

Remarking on the fortieth anniversary of the film's release, film critic John Podhoretz praised The Godfather as "arguably the great American work of popular art" and "the summa of all great moviemaking before it".[65] Two years before, Roger Ebert wrote in his journal that it "comes closest to being a film everyone agrees... is unquestionably great."[66]

Accolades

Script error: No such module "anchor". The Godfather was nominated for seven awards at the 30th Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture – Drama, James Caan for Best Supporting Actor, Al Pacino and Marlon Brando for Best Actor – Drama, Best Score, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.[67] When the winners were announced on January 28, 1973, the film had won the categories for: Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor - Drama, Best Original Score, and Best Picture – Drama.[68][69] The Godfather won a record five Golden Globes, which was not surpassed until 2017.[70]

Rota's score was also nominated for Grammy Award for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture or TV Special at the 15th Grammy Awards.[71][72] Rota was announced the winner of the category on March 3 at the Grammys' ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.[71][72]

When the nominations for the 45th Academy Awards were revealed on February 12, 1973, The Godfather was nominated for eleven awards.[73][74] The nominations were for: Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Marlon Brando for Best Actor, Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola for Best Adapted Screenplay, Pacino, Caan, and Robert Duvall for Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Nino Rota for Best Original Score, Coppola for Best Director, and Best Sound.[73][74][75] Upon further review of Rota's love theme from The Godfather, the Academy found that Rota had used a similar score in Eduardo De Filippo's 1958 comedy Fortunella.[76][77][78] This led to re-balloting, where members of the music branch chose from six films: The Godfather and the five films that had been on the shortlist for best original dramatic score but did not get nominated. John Addison's score for Sleuth won this new vote, and thus replaced Rota's score on the official list of nominees.[79] Going into the awards ceremony, The Godfather was seen as the favorite to take home the most awards.[68] From the nominations that The Godfather had remaining, it only won three of the Academy Awards: Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.[75][80]

Brando, who had also not attended the Golden Globes ceremony two months earlier,[78][81] boycotted the Academy Awards ceremony and refused to accept the Oscar, becoming the second actor to refuse a Best Actor award after George C. Scott in 1970.[82][83] Brando sent American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather in his place, to announce at the awards podium Brando's reasons for declining the award which were based on his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television.[82][83][84] In addition, Pacino boycotted the ceremony. He was insulted at being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor award, noting that he had more screen time than his co-star and Best Actor winner Brando and thus he should have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.[85]

The Godfather had five nominations for awards at the 26th British Academy Film Awards.[86] The nominees were: Pacino for Most Promising Newcomer, Rota for the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Duvall for Best Supporting Actor, and Brando for Best Actor, the film's costume designer Anna Hill Johnstone for Best Costume Design.[86] All of The Godfather's nominations failed to win except for Rota.[86]

Awards and nominations received by The Godfather
Award Category Nominee Result
45th Academy Awards Best Picture Albert S. Ruddy Won
Best Director Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
Best Actor (refused) Marlon Brando Won
Best Supporting Actor James Caan Nominated
Robert Duvall Nominated
Al Pacino Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola Won
Best Costume Design Anna Hill Johnstone Nominated
Best Film Editing William Reynolds, Peter Zinner Nominated
Best Sound Bud Grenzbach, Richard Portman, Christopher Newman Nominated
Best Original Dramatic Score Nino Rota Revoked
26th British Academy Film Awards Best Actor Marlon Brando (Also for The Nightcomers) Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Nominated
Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Al Pacino Nominated
Best Film Music Nino Rota Won
Best Costume Design Anna Hill Johnstone Nominated
25th Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Francis Ford Coppola Won
30th Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture - Drama Won
Best Director - Motion Picture Francis Ford Coppola Won
Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama Marlon Brando Won
Al Pacino Nominated
Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture James Caan Nominated
Best Screenplay Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola Won
Best Original Score Nino Rota Won
15th Grammy Awards Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Special Nino Rota Won
25th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola Won

In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[87] In 1998, Time Out conducted a poll and The Godfather was voted the best film of all time.[88] In 2002, Sight & Sound polled film directors voted the film and its sequel as the second best film ever;[89] the critics poll separately voted it fourth.[90] Also in 2002, The Godfather was ranked the second best film of all time by Film4, after Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.[91] In 2005, it was named one of the 100 greatest films of the last 80 years by Time magazine (the selected films were not ranked).[92][93] In 2006, the Writers Guild of America, West agreed, voting it the number two in its list of the 101 greatest screenplays, after Casablanca.[94] In 2008, the film was voted in at No. 1 on Empire magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[95] Entertainment Weekly named it the greatest film ever made.[96][97][98] The film has been selected by the American Film Institute for many of their lists.

American Film Institute recognition

Cinematic influence

Although many films about gangsters preceded The Godfather, Coppola's heavy infusion of Italian culture and stereotypes, and his portrayal of mobsters as characters of considerable psychological depth and complexity was unprecedented.[105] Coppola took it further with The Godfather Part II, and the success of those two films, critically, artistically and financially, opened the doors for numerous other depictions of Italian Americans as mobsters, including films such as Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and TV series such as David Chase's The Sopranos. A comprehensive study of Italian American culture on film, conducted from 1996 to 2001 by the Italic Institute of America,[106] showed that close to 300 movies featuring Italian Americans as mobsters (mostly fictitious) have been produced since The Godfather, an average of nine per year.[107]

Popular culture and legacy

The Godfather epic, encompassing the original trilogy and the additional footage Coppola incorporated later, is by now thoroughly integrated into American life and, together with a succession of mob-theme imitators, has led to a highly stereotyped concept of Italian American culture. The first film had the largest impact and, unlike any film before it, its depiction of Italians who immigrated to the United States in the early decades of the 20th century is perhaps attributable to the Italian American director, presenting his own understanding of their experience. The films explain through their action the integration of fictional Italian American criminals into American society. Though the story is set in the period of mass immigration to the U.S., it is rooted in the specific circumstances of the Corleones, a family that lives outside of the law. Although some critics have refashioned the Corleone story into one of universality of immigration, other critics have posited that it leads the viewer to identify organized crime with Italian American culture. Released in a period of intense national cynicism and self-criticism, the American film struck a chord about the dual identities inherent in a nation of immigrants.[108] The Godfather increased Hollywood's negative portrayals of immigrant Italians in the aftermath of the film and was a recruiting tool for organized crime.[109]

The concept of a mafia "Godfather" was an invention of Mario Puzo's and the film's effect was to add the fictional nomenclature to the language. Similarly, Don Vito Corleone's unforgettable "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse"Template:Mdashvoted the second most memorable line in cinema history in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes by the American Film InstituteTemplate:Mdashwas adopted by actual gangsters.[110] In the French novel Le Père Goriot, Honoré de Balzac wrote of Vautrin telling Eugene: "In that case I will make you an offer that no one would decline."[111] According to Anthony Fiato, Patriarca crime family members Paulie Intiso and Nicky Giso modeled their speech on Brando's portrayal.[64] Intiso would frequently swear and use poor grammar; but after the movie came out, he started to articulate and philosophize more.[64]

Television

John Belushi appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch as Vito Corleone in a therapy session trying to properly express his inner feelings towards the Tattaglia Family, who, in addition to muscling in on his territory, "also, they shot my son Santino 56 times".[112]

In the television show The Sopranos, Tony Soprano's topless bar is named Bada Bing, echoing the line in The Godfather when Sonny Corleone says, "You've gotta get up close like this and bada-bing! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit."[113]

The film has been parodied several times on the animated television series The Simpsons. In the season four episode "Mr. Plow", the scene in which Sonny Corleone is shot at the tollbooth is mimicked when Bart Simpson is pelted with snowballs.[114][115] The scene is again parodied in the season sixteen episode "All's Fair in Oven War", which includes James Caan as himself in a guest voice role. In the season eighteen episode "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer", the film's final scene is mimicked with a door being closed on Lisa Simpson.[116]

Home media

The theatrical version of The Godfather debuted on American network television on November 16, 1974 on NBC, and again two days later, with only minor edits.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The airing on television attracted a large audience and helped generate anticipation for the upcoming sequel.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The next year, Coppola created The Godfather Saga expressly for American television in a release that combined The Godfather and The Godfather Part II with unused footage from those two films in a chronological telling that toned down the violent, sexual, and profane material for its NBC debut on November 18, 1977.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". In 1981, Paramount released the Godfather Epic boxed set, which also told the story of the first two films in chronological order, again with additional scenes, but not redacted for broadcast sensibilities.Script error: No such module "Footnotes". The Godfather Trilogy was released in 1992, in which the films are fundamentally in a chronological order.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

The Godfather Family: A Look Inside was a 73-minute documentary released in 1991.[117] Directed by Jeff Warner, the film featured some behind the scenes content from all three films, interviews with the actors, and screen tests.[117] The Godfather DVD Collection was released on October 9, 2001 in a package that contained all three films—each with a commentary track by Coppola—and a bonus disc containing The Godfather Family: A Look Inside.[118] The DVD also held a Corleone family tree, a "Godfather" timeline, and footage of the Academy Award acceptance speeches.[118]

The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration

During the film's original theatrical release, the original negatives were worn down due to the reel being printed so much to meet demand.[119][120] In addition, the duplicate negative was lost in Paramount archives.[120] In 2006 Coppola contacted Steven Spielberg—whose studio DreamWorks had recently been bought out by Paramount—about restoring The Godfather.[119][120] Robert A. Harris was hired to oversee the restoration of The Godfather and its two sequels, with the film's cinematographer Willis participated in the restoration.[121][122] Work began in November 2008 by repairing the negatives so they could go through a digital scanner to produce high resolution 4K files.[119][120] If a negative were damaged and discolored, work was done digitally to restore it to its original look.[119][120] After a year and a half of working on the restoration, the project was complete.[120] Paramount called the finished product The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration and released it to the public on September 23, 2008 on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.[121][122] Dave Kehr of the New York Times believed the restoration brought back the "golden glow of their original theatrical screenings".[121] As a whole, the restoration of the film was well received by critics and Coppola.[119][120][121][122][123] The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration contains several new special features that play in high definition, along with additional scenes.[123]

Video game

Script error: No such module "main". A video game based on the film was developed by Electronic Arts and first released in 2006.[124][125] Duvall, Caan, and Brando supplied voiceovers and their likenesses,[126] but Pacino did not.[126] Francis Ford Coppola openly voiced his disapproval of the game.[127]

See also

Notes

  1. Sources disagree on the date where Paramount confirmed their intentions to make Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather into a feature-length film. Harlan Lebo's work states that the announcement came in January 1969,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". while Jenny Jones' book puts the date of the announcement three months after the novel's publication, in June 1969.Script error: No such module "Footnotes".
  2. Sources disagree on both the amount of the original budget and the final budget. The starting budget has been recorded as $1,Script error: No such module "Footnotes". $2,[7][19]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".Script error: No such module "Footnotes". and $2.5 million,[8][20] while the final budget has been named at $5,[14] $6,[8]Script error: No such module "Footnotes". and $6.5 million.[19]Script error: No such module "Footnotes".

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References

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  111. (Father Goriot, page 104 in Chapter 1); "Dans ces conjonctures, je vais vous faire une proposition que personne ne refuserait. Honoré de Balzac, Œuvres complètes de H. de Balzac (1834), Calmann-Lévy, 1910 (Le Père Goriot, II. L'entrée dans le monde, pp. 110-196); viewed 10-2-2014.
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Bibliography

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External links

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Template:Godfather Template:Francis Ford Coppola Template:Mario Puzo Template:AcademyAwardBestPicture 1961–1980 Template:GoldenGlobeBestMotionPictureDrama 1961–1980 Script error: No such module "Authority control".Script error: No such module "Check for unknown parameters".

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