“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
This month marks the 45th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s THE GODFATHER.
In the late 1960’s, the movie industry was dying. Most of the major motion picture studios, including Paramount Pictures, were desperate for a big hit; a hit that would not only save their own assess, but re-install confidence in the American movie-going public. It was a stale environment for Hollywood, and frustrated by the stifling creative atmosphere, a group of experimental filmmakers, which included Francis Ford Coppola and his friend George Lucas, founded their own independent studio which would inspire creative and unconventional approaches to filmmaking.
Approached by Paramount to direct an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s crime novel, Coppola initially turned down the offer. With THE GODFATHER being a violent story of a family running a criminal empire, Coppola, an Italian-American himself, did not want to paint his heritage in a negative light. However, Coppola was convinced by Lucas to take the plunge. Desperate for a money-making hit, Paramount put immense pressure on Coppola during casting and filming, and the director was nearly fired many times. However, Coppola eventually won out on many important decisions; including the casting of Marlon Brando and setting the film in the correct time period, 1945 to 1955.
With a now historic ensemble cast which included Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, John Cazale, and Abe Vigoda, THE GODFATHER was a hit and eventually became a milestone in movie history. With its brilliant acting, gentle yet percise direction and amazing cinematography, it was nominated for eleven Oscars, winning three, including Best Picture. It was selected for preservation in the United States Film Registry in 1990, and is regarded as the second greatest film in American cinematic history; second only to CITIZEN KANE. THE GODFATHER brought greatness back into film, virtually saving the industry and serving as the model for all future crime dramas such as GOODFELLAS, THE DEPARTED, and TV series such as THE SOPRANOS and SONS OF ANARCHY…all of which can all trace their roots back to THE GODFATHER.
Having grown up in a whimsical movie world with thrilling adventures in the forms of STAR WARS and Indiana Jones, this Blogger did not catch up with THE GODFATHER until much later; the film always seemed too dark, too grown-up, and nearly too scary. It wasn’t until college and a Film 101 class where this Blogger was properly introduced to it, which then began a new appreciation for film and provided a method of film and story de-construction. Each year this Blogger revisits THE GODFATHER like an annual vigil around Thanksgiving, which is the time to embrace family; and family is what the film is all about.
“I believe in America.”