After turning down a deal with drug dealer Virgil Sollozo, ageing head mobster Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) has an attempt made against his life. After barely pulling through, one of the Don’s sons, Michael (Al Pacino) exacts revenge by beginning a Mob war against Sollozo, which inadvertently rips the family apart.
I’ll admit, I’m quite scared when it comes to reviewing The Godfather. It is basically the daddy of all films, and doing it justice is a very daunting task. The way I see it is this – you get the ultimate gangster film, but also one of the greatest films to ever have been made, possibly the greatest. The story is perfect, the acting is flawless, and the directing is by Francis Ford Coppola, so if you’re wanting me to pick faults, I’m sorry, but I can’t. Instead, I will spend the next few hundred words singing its praises.
Marlon Brando was cast as The Godfather, Vito Corleone for a reason, that reason being whenever he acts, you get a performance of biblical proportions. He was just mesmerising, simple as. He drew you in, and when he said those words, ‘I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse’, you knew straightaway that no one was going argue, and that you weren’t leaving your seat for the next three hours. The whole thing is a real masculine affair, with some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-known leading men; Brando in front, followed by Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall.
Pacino as the reluctant Michael Corleone was equally as sublime. He played the WW1 veteran who just wanted a normal life, but unfortunately for him, he was the only real suitor to his father’s position. And, although, he never really wanted to be his father’s successor, Michael took up the post with vast ruthlessness. When it came to ridding his family of enemies, he didn’t mess about. He personally murdered a corrupt police chief and the mobster he was servant to, and then he had the heads of five rival families killed. Dearest Michael certainly threw himself into his new role, didn’t he? And Pacino threw himself into his and he was brilliant! He really captivated the audience and made it very hard to pay attention to any of the other characters whenever he was on screen.
James Caan played Sonny Corleone, the oldest of the Corleone children. He was very protective of his family, and a total hothead which, with the situation surrounding the Corleone family throughout the film, was probably not the best qualities for the oldest brother to have. Caan, much like everybody else, was magnificent. The way he’d fly off the handle whenever it turned out his sister Connie (played by Talia Shire) had had a domestic with her husband was tremendous – a pleasure to watch.
Finally, we have Robert Duvall, who plays Vito Corleone’s adoptive son, Thomas Hagen. He acted as the family lawyer for his father, and was generally the voice of reason for all business matters. Towards the end was when his performance peaked, as Michael returned and took over the family affairs. Thomas was pushed out of everything, and Duvall portrayed how dejected he felt beautifully.
The directing and writing were both faultless. Francis Ford Coppola did a wonderful job in achieving the vision he had in mind, and his collaboration with Mario Puzo on the screenplay is where I believe the success of the film lies. Puzo wrote the novel, and I think his input in taking it from page to screen helped keep the rawness of the story in tact.
Basically, the essence of what I’m saying is that you have to watch The Godfather, there is absolutely no doubt about it. You will probably never see a more perfect masterpiece. This is unmissable, capiche?