The late Roger Ebert once wrote that The Godfather is the one film almost everyone agrees about. By all accounts and according to every criteria of success in Hollywood, director Francis Ford Coppola’s universally acclaimed gangster chronicle is nothing short of an enduring cultural phenomenon. In the wake of the 50th anniversary of the first movie, let’s take a look back into everything that is The Godfather.
Casting was one of the reasons why The Godfather achieved record-breaking success. The movie included stars-in-the-making Al Pacino and Robert Duvall, the then-unknown Abe Vigoda, and of course, the don himself, Marlon Brandon. At 47, Brando was hardly old enough to play a family patriarch and was a rather youthful choice for a formidable character like Don Vito Corleone. However, his screen presence and power-packed performance helped to make the character an icon. Al Pachino, in his role of the reluctant hero Michael Corleone, perfected the transition of the character from being considerably meek to incredibly ruthless.
The Godfather has deservingly gone down in history as an example of one of the best productions of Hollywood ever. It was an outright studio movie, as Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the original novel from Mario Puzo even before it became a bestselling sensation. Ironically, the studio selected a young director, Coppola, to make a cheap and budgeted adaptation of the novel. Thankfully, The Godfather turned out to be far more than that, mostly because Coppola stood stern on certain filmmaking choices. From the setting of the movie to casting Brando, from Nino Rota’s timeless score to stylistically astute camerawork, Coppola took all the decisions ignoring the disapproval of the studio. Yet he remains the one, to whom the studio, as well as Hollywood, still owe their gratitude for creating the legendary film.