The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay by Mario Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne in a production of Albert S. Ruddy. Based on Puzo's 1969 novel of the same name, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan as the leaders of a powerful New York crime family. The story, spanning the years 1945 to 1955, centers on the ascension of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from reluctant family outsider to ruthless Mafia boss while also chronicling the experiences of the Corleone family under the patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando).
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinemaand as one of the most influential, especially in the gangster genre. Now ranked as the second greatest film in American cinema (behind Citizen Kane) by the American Film Institute, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1990 for being "culturally significant." The film's success spawned two sequels: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.
The film was for a time the highest-grossing of all time, and remains the leader in grosses for 1972. It won three Oscars that year: for Best Picture, for Best Actor (Brando) and in the category Best Adapted Screenplay for Puzo and Coppola. Its nominations in seven other categories included Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall for Best Supporting Actor and Coppola for Best Director.
On the occasion of his only daughter's wedding, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) hears requests in his role as the Godfather, the Don of his New York crime family. While Connie (Talia Shire) and Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo) celebrate their marriage, Singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) pleads for help securing a movie role. Vito soon dispatches his consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) to meet the abrasive studio head Jack Woltz (John Marley), who only agrees to cast Fontane after waking up in bed with the severed head of his prized racehorse.
Shortly before Christmas 1945, drug baron Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), backed by the Tattaglia family, asks Vito for investment and protection through his political connections, but Vito declines and voices his disapproval of drug dealers. His enforcer, Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) is killed when sent to spy on them. Sollozzo attempts to assassinate Vito. His eldest son, Sonny (James Caan) takes command. Sollozzo kidnaps Hagen, suggesting he should persuade Sonny to accept his deal. Whilst the Corleone family discuss the situation, they receive a fish in Brasi's vest confirming he sleeps with the fishes. Vito is hospitalized following an attempt on his life by Sollozzo s men. Vito s eldest son Sonny (James Caan) takes command, ordering caporegime Peter Clemenza (Richard S. Castellano) to kill Vito s traitorous driver Paulie (Johnny Martino). Sollozzo kidnaps Hagen, persuading him to issue Sonny the deal. Vito's youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) thwarts a second assassination attempt on his father at the hospital, but is accosted by corrupt police Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden), who breaks his jaw.
Sonny has Tattaglia's son, Bruno, killed. Michael comes up with a plan to hit Sollozzo and McCluskey that his brother approves over Hagen's objections. On the pretext of settling the dispute, Michael lures the pair to a restaurant, retrieves a planted handgun and murders them. Despite a clamp down from the authorities, the Five Families erupt in open warfare and the brothers fear for their safety. Michael takes refuge in Sicily and Fredo (John Cazale), is sheltered by associate Moe Greene (Alex Rocco) in Las Vegas. Sonny attacks Carlo on the street for abusing his sister. When it happens again, Sonny speeds for her home but assassins ambush him at a highway toll booth and riddle him with machine gun fire.
Vito learns to his distress that Michael has become involved in the family business; for him he had hoped for something better. However, Michael has fallen in love with Apollonia Vitelli (Simonetta Stefanelli) and married her in Sicily. His peace is shattered when a car bomb intended for him takes the life of his new wife.
To end the feuds, Vito meets with the heads of the Five Families, withdrawing his opposition to the Tattaglias' heroin business and swearing to forego revenge for Sonny's murder. He deduces that the Tattaglias were under orders of the now dominant Don Emilio Barzini (Richard Conte). With his safety guaranteed, Michael returns home and over a year later marries his girlfriend, Kay Adams (Diane Keaton). Seeing his father at the end of his career and his brother too weak, Michael takes the reins of the family business and promises his wife to make it legitimate within five years.
Biding his time, Michael allows rival families to pressure Corleone enterprises and plans to move family operations to Nevada, while spinning off New York operations to members who stay behind. Michael also replaces Hagen with his father as his consigliere; Vito explains to an upset Hagen that they have long range plans for him and the family. Later, Michael travels to Las Vegas, intending to buy out Greene's stake in the family's casinos. Instead, Greene derides the Corleones as a fading power, and Michael's anger is fueled when Fredo falls under Greene's sway.
Vito collapses and dies in his garden in 1955 while playing with Michael s son Anthony. At the funeral, Tessio arranges a meeting between Michael and Don Barzini, signalling his treachery as Vito had warned. The meeting is set for the same day as the christening of Connie and Carlo's son, to whom Michael will stand as godfather. As the christening proceeds, on Michael's orders, Corleone assassins murder the other New York dons and Moe Greene. Tessio is told that Michael is aware of his betrayal and taken off to his death. After Carlo is questioned by Michael on his involvement in setting up Sonny's murder and confesses he was contacted by Barzini, he is escorted to a car whereupon Clemenza kills him with a garrotte. Michael is confronted by Connie, who accuses him of having her husband killed. He denies killing Carlo when questioned by Kay, an answer she accepts. As Kay watches warily, Michael receives his capos, who address him as the new Don Corleone.
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone and Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone.
Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, formerly known as Vito Andolini, who is the Don (the "boss") of the Corleone family. He is a native Sicilian married to Carmela Corleone. Vito is the father of Santino (Sonny), Federico (Fredo), Michele (Michael) and Constanzia (Connie).
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the Don's youngest son, recently returned from World War II. The only college-educated member of the family, Michael initially wants nothing to do with the "family business". He is the main protagonist of the story and his evolution from doe-eyed outsider to ruthless boss is the key plotline of the film.
James Caan as Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Don Corleone's hot-headed eldest son. As underboss, he is being groomed to succeed his father as head of the Corleone family.
Richard S. Castellano as Peter Clemenza, a caporegime for the Corleone family. He is also an old friend of Vito Corleone and Salvatore Tessio.
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, Don Corleone's informally adopted son, he is the family lawyer and consigliere (counselor). Unlike the Corleones, he is of German-Irish descent, not Sicilian.
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone, Michael's non-Italian girlfriend and, ultimately, his second wife and the mother of his children.
John Cazale as Fredo Corleone, the middle son of the Corleone family. Deeply insecure and not very bright, he is considered the weakest of the Corleone brothers.
Talia Shire as Constanzia "Connie" Corleone, the youngest child and only daughter of the Corleone family. She marries Carlo Rizzi at the beginning of the film.
Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Tessio, a caporegime for the family. He is also an old friend of Vito Corleone and Peter Clemenza.
Al Lettieri as Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo, a heroin dealer associated with the Tattaglia family. He asks Don Corleone to protect the Tattaglia family's heroin business through his political connections.
Gianni Russo as Carlo Rizzi, Connie's husband. He becomes an associate of the Corleone family, and ultimately betrays Sonny to the Barzini family.
Sterling Hayden as Captain McCluskey, a corrupt police captain on Sollozzo's payroll. He breaks Michael's jaw during the events of the film.
Lenny Montana as Luca Brasi, a loyal enforcer utilized by Vito Corleone.
Richard Conte as Emilio Barzini, Don of the Barzini family.
Al Martino as Johnny Fontane, a world-famous popular singer and godson of Vito, loosely based on Frank Sinatra.
John Marley as Jack Woltz, a powerful Hollywood producer who is implied to be a pedophile.
Alex Rocco as Moe Greene, a longtime associate of the Corleone family who owns a Las Vegas hotel, based on Bugsy Siegel.
Morgana King as Carmela Corleone, Vito's wife and mother of Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Connie, and adoptive mother to Tom Hagen.
Corrado Gaipa as Don Tommasino, an old friend of Vito Corleone, who shelters Michael during his exile in Sicily.
Johnny Martino as Paulie Gatto, a soldier under Peter Clemenza and Vito's driver.
- Victor Rendina as Philip Tattaglia, Don of the Tattaglia family.
Simonetta Stefanelli as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, a young girl Michael meets and marries while in Sicily.
Louis Guss as Don Zaluchi, Don of the Zaluchi family of Detroit.
Tom Rosqui as Rocco Lampone, a soldier under Clemenza who eventually becomes a caporegime in the Corleone family.
Joe Spinell as Willi Cicci, a soldier in the Corleone family.
Richard Bright as Al Neri, Michael Corleone's personal bodyguard who eventually becomes a caporegime.
Julie Gregg as Sandra Corleone, the wife and, later, widow of Sonny.
Sofia Coppola as Michael Francis Rizzi, godchild of Michael Corleone.
Coppola and Paramount
Francis Ford Coppola was not the first choice to direct. Italian director Sergio Leone was offered the job first, but he declined in order to direct his own gangster opus, Once Upon a Time in America, which focused on Jewish-American gangsters. Peter Bogdanovich was then approached but he also declined the offer and made What's Up, Doc? instead. According to Robert Evans, head of Paramount Pictures at the time, Coppola also did not initially want to direct the film because he feared it would glorify the Mafia and violence, and thus reflect poorly on his Sicilian and Italian heritage; on the other hand, Evans specifically wanted an Italian-American to direct the film because his research had shown that previous films about the Mafia that were directed by non-Italians had fared dismally at the box office, and he wanted to, in his own words, "smell the spaghetti". When Coppola hit upon the idea of making it a metaphor for American capitalism, however, he eagerly agreed to take the helm. At the time, Coppola had directed five feature films, the most notable of which was the adaptation of the stage musical Finian's Rainbow although he had also received an Academy Award for co-writing Patton in 1970. Coppola was in debt to Warner Bros. for $400,000 following budget overruns on George Lucas's THX 1138, which Coppola had produced, and he took The Godfather on Lucas's advice. Years later, he said that Paramount chose him because he was a young director. He became 31 just a month into shooting.
There was intense friction between Coppola and Paramount, and several times Coppola was almost replaced. As early as the first week, Coppola was nearly fired when Pacino was badly injured, delaying production. Paramount maintains that its skepticism was due to a rocky start to production, though Coppola believes that the first week went extremely well. The studio thought that Coppola failed to stay on schedule, frequently made production and casting errors, and insisted on unnecessary expenses, and two producers unsuccessfully tried to convince another filmmaker to take Coppola's place. The producers scapegoated the other filmmaker when their attempt to fire Coppola became known. Because the producers told him that the other filmmaker had attempted a coup, Coppola says he was shadowed by a replacement director, who was ready to take over if Coppola was fired. Despite such intense pressure, he managed to defend his decisions and avoid being replaced. Coppola would later recollect:
Paramount was in financial trouble at the time of production and was desperate for a "big hit" to boost business, hence the pressure Coppola faced during filming. They 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 smashed kitchen dishes after finding out Carlo was cheating was added for this reason.
The film was originally budgeted for $2 million, and was scripted as a modern adaptation. However, when Coppola got his hands on the script, he was adamant that it be set in the same time period as the book, from 1945 to 1955. This required a large number of second unit shots, some of which embarrassed Coppola at the time.
Coppola's casting choices were unpopular with studio executives at Paramount Pictures, particularly Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone. Coppola's first two choices for the role were both Brando and Laurence Olivier, but Olivier's agent refused the role, saying, "Lord Olivier is not taking any jobs. He's very sick. He's gonna die soon and he's not interested" (Olivier lived 18 years after the refusal). Paramount, which wanted Ernest Borgnine, originally refused to allow Coppola to cast Brando in the role, citing difficulties Brando had on recent film sets. One studio executive proposed Danny Thomas for the role citing the fact that Don Corleone was a strong "family man. " At one point, Coppola was told by Paramount president Charles Bludhorn that "Marlon Brando will never appear in this motion picture". After pleading with the executives, Coppola was allowed to cast Brando only if he appeared in the film for much less salary than his previous films, perform a screen-test, and put up a bond saying that he would not cause a delay in the production (as he had done on previous film sets). Coppola chose Brando over Borgnine on the basis of his screen test, which also won over the Paramount leadership. Bludhorn in particular was captivated by Brando's screen test; when he saw it, he exclaimed, "What are we watching? Who is this old guinea?" Brando later won an Academy Award for his portrayal, which he refused to accept in order to call attention to harmful Hollywood stereotypes of Native Americans.
The studio originally wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O'Neal to play Michael Corleone, but Coppola wanted an unknown who looked like an Italian-American, whom he found in Al Pacino. Pacino was not well known at the time, having appeared in only two minor films, and the studio did not consider him right for the part, in part because of his height. Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Martin Sheen, and James Caan also auditioned. At one point, Caan was the first choice to play Michael, while Carmine Caridi was signed as elder brother Sonny. Pacino was given the role only after Coppola threatened to quit the production; Caan stated that Coppola envisioned Michael to be the Sicilian-looking one and Sonny was the Americanized version. The studio agreed to Pacino on the condition that Caan was cast as Sonny instead of Caridi, despite the former's Jewish heritage and the latter closely matching the character in the novel (a six-foot-four, black-haired Italian-American bull). Coppola and Puzo would subsequently create a role for Caridi in the sequels.
Bruce Dern, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen were considered for the role of Tom Hagen that eventually went to Robert Duvall. Sylvester Stallone auditioned for Carlo Rizzi and Paulie Gatto, Anthony Perkins for Sonny, and Mia Farrow auditioned for Kay. William Devane was seen for the role of Moe Greene. Mario Adorf was approached for a role as well. A then-unknown Robert De Niro auditioned for the roles of Michael, Sonny, Carlo, and Paulie. He was cast as Paulie, but Coppola arranged a "trade" with The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight to get Al Pacino from that film. De Niro later played the young Vito Corleone in Part II, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the role.
To some extent, the film was a family affair for Francis Ford Coppola. Carmine Coppola, his father, who had a distinguished career as a composer, conductor and arranger, wrote additional music for the film and appeared in a bit part as a piano player, and Carmine's wife, Italia Coppola, was an extra. The director's sister, Talia Shire, was cast as Connie Corleone, and his infant daughter, Sofia, played Connie's and Carlo's newborn son, Michael Francis Rizzi, in the climactic baptism scene near the movie's end. Coppola also cast his sons as Tom Hagen's sons, Frank and Andrew. They are seen in the Sonny-Carlo street fight scene and behind Pacino and Duvall during the funeral scene.
Most of the principal photography took place from March 29, 1971 to August 6, 1971, although a scene with Pacino and Keaton was shot in the autumn. There were a total of 77 days of shooting, fewer than the 83 for which the production had budgeted.
The opening shot is a long, slow pullback, starting with a close-up of Bonasera, who is petitioning Don Corleone, and ending with the Godfather, seen from behind, framing the picture. This move, which lasts for about three minutes, was shot with a computer-controlled zoom lens designed by Tony Karp.
The scene of Michael driving with McCluskey and Sollozzo avoided the cost of back-projection. Instead, technicians moved lights behind the car to create the illusion.
The cat in the opening scene used to hang around the studio, and was simply dropped in Brando's lap at the last minute by the director.
One of the movie's most shocking moments involved the real severed head of a horse. Animal rights groups protested the inclusion of the scene. Coppola later stated that the horse's head was delivered to him from a dog food company; a horse had not been killed specifically for the movie.
In the novel, Jack Woltz, the movie producer whose horse's head is put in his bed, is also shown to be a pedophile as Tom Hagen sees a young girl (presumably one of Woltz's child stars) crying while walking out of Woltz's room. This scene was cut from the theatrical release but can be found on the DVD (though Woltz can still briefly be seen kissing the girl on the cheek in his studio in the film).
The shooting of Moe Greene through the eye was inspired by the death of gangster Bugsy Siegel. To achieve the effect, actor Alex Rocco's glasses had two tubes hidden in their frames. One had fake blood in it, and the other had a BB and compressed air. When the gun was shot, the compressed air shot the BB through the glasses, shattering them from the inside. The other tube then released the fake blood.
The equally startling scene of McCluskey's shooting was accomplished by building a fake forehead on top of actor Sterling Hayden. A gap was cut in the center, filled with fake blood, and capped off with a plug of prosthetic flesh. The plug was quickly yanked out with monofilament fishing line, making a bloody hole suddenly appear in Hayden's head.
The most complicated shooting was the death of Sonny Corleone at the toll plaza. Inspired by the final scene in Bonnie and Clyde, James Caan's suit was rigged with 127 squibs of fake blood that exploded in a simulation of machine-gun hits.
The New York State Supreme Court building on Foley Square in Manhattan, New York City. Locations around New York City were used for the film, including the then-closed flagship store of Best & Company on Fifth Avenue, which was dressed up and used for the scene in which Pacino and Keaton are Christmas shopping. At least one location in Los Angeles was used also (for the exterior of Woltz's mansion), for which neither Robert Duvall nor John Marley were available; in some shots, it is possible to see that extras are standing in for the two actors. A scene with Pacino and Keaton was filmed in the town of Ross, California. The Sicilian towns of Savoca and Forza d'Agr outside of Taormina were also used for exterior locations. Interiors were shot at Filmways Studio in New York.
A side entrance to Bellevue Hospital was used for Michael's confrontation with police Captain McCluskey. As of 2007, the steps and gate to the hospital were still there but victim to neglect. The hospital interiors, when Michael visits his father there, were filmed at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary on 14th Street, in Manhattan, New York City.
The scene in which Don Barzini is assassinated was filmed on the steps of the New York State Supreme Court building on Foley Square in Manhattan, New York City.
The wedding scene at the Corleone family compound was shot at 110 Longfellow Avenue in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island. The numerous Tudor homes on the block gave the impression that they were part of the same "compound. " Paramount built a Plexiglas "stone wall" which traversed the street the same wall where Santino smashed the camera. Many of the extras in the wedding scene were local Italian-Americans who were asked by Coppola to drink homemade wine, enjoy the traditional Italian food, and participate in the scene as though it were an actual wedding. Food was catered by "Demyan's Hofbrau" a restaurant on Van Duzer Street which is no longer in existence. The wedding cake was prepared by a bakery on Port Richmond Avenue.
Two churches were used to film the baptism scene. The interior shots were filmed at Old St. Patrick's in New York. For the baptism, Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 was used, as were other Bach works for the pipe organ. The exterior scenes following the baptism were filmed at The Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne in the Pleasant Plains section of Staten Island. In 1973 much of the church was destroyed in a fire. Only the fa ade and steeple of the original church remained, and were later incorporated into a new structure.
The funeral scene was filmed at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, Queens. The toll booth scene was filmed at the then construction site of Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on Long Island. It also utilized the former Mitchel Field, and the roadway used was once a runway.
Box office performance
The Godfather was a huge financial success, breaking many box-office records to become the highest-grossing film of 1972. It grossed at least $75,000,000 in North America, displacing Gone with the Wind, which had earned $72,900,000, as the highest-grossing film of all-time at the time. It was also the first film in history to reach $100,000,000 in domestic box-office grosses and, according to an article in The Sunday Telegraph, the worldwide box-office for the film was $114,000,000 by late August 1972.
Profits were so high for The Godfather that earnings for Gulf & Western Industries, Inc., which owned Paramount Pictures, jumped from seventy-seven cents per share to three dollars and thirty cents a share for the year, according to a December 13, 1972 Los Angeles Times article.
The film ultimately grossed nearly $135 million in domestic box-offices and $133 million in international box-offices to bring its worldwide gross to $268 million.
Since its release, The Godfather has received universal critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% of 74 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 9.1/10. The website's critical consensus for the film was "The Godfather gets everything right; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it established new benchmarks for American cinema, " and the film was lauded as "one of Hollywood's greatest critical and commercial successes. " 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. "
The Godfather is now greatly respected among international critics and the public and is routinely listed as one of the greatest films ever made. It was voted greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly, and was voted at #1 on Empire magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time in November 2008. The Godfather was ranked as the third greatest American film in the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies. It is now ranked as the second greatest film in American cinematic history behind Citizen Kane in the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) by the American Film Institute. In the 2002 Sight & Sound poll of international critics, The Godfather (along with The Godfather Part II) was ranked as the fourth best film of all time. Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II were selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1990 and 1993.
The soundtrack's main theme by Nino Rota was also critically acclaimed; the main theme ("Speak Softly Love") is well-known and widely used (see Score Controversy for more information).
Director Stanley Kubrick believed that The Godfather was possibly the greatest movie ever made, and had without question the best cast.
Previous Mafia movies had looked at the gangs from the perspective of an outraged outsider. In contrast, The Godfather presents the gangster's perspective of the Mafia as a response to corrupt society. Although the Corleone family is presented as immensely rich and powerful, no scenes depict prostitution, gambling, loan sharking or other forms of racketeering. 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).
Real-life gangsters responded enthusiastically to the film, with many of them feeling it was a portrayal of how they were supposed to act. Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the former Underboss in the Gambino crime family, 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. Intiso would frequently swear and use poor grammar; but after the movie came out, he started to articulate and philosophize more.
Remarking on the 40th 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. "
The Godfather won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor for Marlon Brando and Best Adapted Screenplay for both Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola. The film had been nominated for eight other Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall, Best Director for Coppola, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound. The film also had a Best Original Score nomination but was disqualified when found out that Nino Rota had used a similar score in another film. Despite having three nominees for the Best Supporting Actor award, they all lost to Joel Grey in Cabaret. It also lost the Best Director, Best Sound and Best Film Editing to Cabaret.
The film won five Golden Globes out of seven nominations. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Score and Best Actor - Drama for Brando. It received two nominations for Best Actor - Drama for Pacino and Best Supporting Actor for Caan.
Nino Rota won the Grammy Award for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture or TV Special for the the film's soundtrack.
At the BAFTA Awards, Nino Rota won the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music while Brando, Duvall and Pacino received nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising Newcomer, respectively. Anna Hill Johnstone was also nominated for Best Costume Design.
Marlon Brando and Al Pacino boycott
Marlon Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but turned down the Oscar, becoming the second actor to refuse a Best Actor award (the first being George C. Scott for Patton). Brando boycotted the Academy Award ceremony, sending instead American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who appeared in full Apache dress, to state Brando's reasons, which were based on his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television.
Al Pacino also boycotted the Academy Award ceremony, as 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 Marlon Brando and thus he should have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Nino Rota's score was removed at the last minute from the list of 1973 Academy Award nominees when it was discovered that he had used the theme in Eduardo De Filippo's 1958 comedy Fortunella. Although in the earlier film the theme was played in a brisk, staccato and comedic style, the melody was the same as the love theme from The Godfather, and for that reason was deemed ineligible for an Oscar. Despite this, The Godfather Part II won a 1974 Oscar for Best Original Score, although it featured the same love theme that made the 1972 score ineligible.
American Film Institute
Although many films about gangsters had been made before The Godfather, Coppola's sympathetic treatment of the Corleone family and their associates, and his portrayal of mobsters as characters of considerable psychological depth and complexity was hardly usual in the genre. This was even more the case with The Godfather Part II, and the success of those two films, critically, artistically and financially, opened the doors for more and varied depictions of mobster life, including films such as Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and TV series such as David Chase's The Sopranos.
The image of the Mafia as being a feudal organization with the Don being both the protector of the small fry and the collector of obligations from them to repay his services, which The Godfather helped to popularize, is now an easily recognizable cultural trope, as is that of the Don's family as a "royal family". (This has spread into the real world as well cf. John Gotti the "Dapper Don", and his celebritized family.) This portrayal stands in contrast to the more sordid reality of lower level Mafia "familial" entanglements, as depicted in various post-Godfather Mafia fare, such as Scorsese's Mean Streets and Casino, and also to the grittier hard-boiled pre-Godfather films.
In the 1999 film Analyze This, which starred Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, many references are made both directly and indirectly to The Godfather. One dream scene is almost a shot by shot replica of the attempted assassination of Vito Corleone (Crystal playing the Don and De Niro playing Fredo). In the 1990 comedy The Freshman, Marlon Brando plays a role reminiscent of Don Corleone. And one of those most unlikely homages to this film came in 2004, when the PG-rated, animated family film Shark Tale was released with a storyline that nodded at this and other movies about the Mafia. Similarly, Rugrats in Paris, based on a Nickelodeon children's show, began with an extended parody of The Godfather.
The 2005 Indian film Sarkar, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role as a "Don" and his son Abhishek Bachchan as the equivalent of Michael, is modeled on The Godfather with due credits appearing at the beginning of the film.
In the DVD commentary for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas stated that the interwoven scenes of Anakin Skywalker killing Separatist leaders and Palpatine announcing the beginning of the Galactic Empire was an homage to the christening and assassination sequence in The Godfather.
The Godfather Effect
The film had a Godfather Effect on American culture. As noted by film analyst and author Tom Santopietro, The Godfather was a turning point in American cultural consciousness. With its emphasis on proud ethnicity, The Godfather changed not just the way Italian Americans saw themselves, but how Americans of all backgrounds viewed their individual and national self-identities, their possibilities, and attendant disappointments.
The Godfather Effect had a broader philosophical dimension, as well. As noted by Santopietro, "what Puzo and Coppola delivered - brilliantly - was nothing less than a disquisition on the madness, glory, and failure of the American dream. "  The movie starts with the words I believe in America. It then depicts a nation where the Mafia and big business are two sides of the same coin: both are corrupt, tell the truth selectively, and do exactly as they wish.
This insight is bluntly stated by Michael Corleone, who recommends that Italian Americans must learn from the philanthropists like the Rockefellers first you rob everybody, then you give to the poor. 
In popular culture
The Godfather, along with the other films in the trilogy, had a strong impact on the public at large. Don Vito Corleone's line "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" was voted as the second most memorable line in cinema history in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute. The line actually originates in the French novel Le P re Goriot, by Honor de Balzac, where Vautrin tells Eug ne that he is "making him an offer that he cannot refuse".
An indication of the continuing influence of The Godfather and its sequels can be gleaned from the many references to it which have appeared in every medium of popular culture in the decades since the film's initial release. That these homages, quotations, visual references, satires and parodies continue to pop up even now shows clearly the film's enduring impact. In the television show The Sopranos, Tony Soprano's topless bar is named Bada Bing after the line in The Godfather when Sonny says, "You've gotta get up close like this and bada-bing! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. "
The Simpsons makes numerous references to The Godfather, including one scene in the episode "Strong Arms of the Ma" that parodies the Sonny-Carlo streetfight scene, with Marge Simpson beating a mugger in front of an animated version of the same New York streetscape, including using the lid of a trash can during the fight. The "All's Fair in Oven War" final scene shows James Caan being ambushed by hillbillies (Cletus relatives) at a toll booth, a parody of the scene when Sonny Corleone (portrayed by Caan) is shot and killed. The later episode "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer" parodies the film's ending scene, with Lisa Simpson taking Kay Adams' role and Fat Tony's son Michael standing in for Michael Corleone.
The Warner Bros. animated show Animaniacs featured several segments called "Goodfeathers, " with pigeons spoofing characters from various gangster films. One of the characters is "The Godpigeon", an obvious parody of Brando's portrayal of Vito Corleone.
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. "
In You've Got Mail, Joe Fox, played by Tom Hanks quotes The Godfather, positing:
- The Godfather is the I-ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? "Leave the gun, take the cannoli. " What day of the week is it? "Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday. "
Releases for television and video
The theatrical version of The Godfather debuted on network television in 1974 with only minor edits. 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, because it toned down the violent, sexual, and profane material, received a rating of TV-14 for its NBC debut on November 18, 1977. 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. Coppola returned to the film again in 1992 when he updated that chronological release with footage from The Godfather Part III under the title The Godfather Trilogy 1901 1980. With a total run time of 583 minutes (9 hours, 43 minutes), this version, too, incorporated unreleased material including "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside", a documentary on the making of the films.
All three releases contained material not found in the other two and, although some fans have longed for a complete chronological release, Coppola has stated that the films were meant to be seen in their original form and has not returned to the issue.
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 that featured a 73-minute documentary from 1991 entitled The Godfather Family: A Look Inside and other miscellany about the film: the additional scenes originally contained in The Godfather Saga; Francis Coppola's Notebook (a look inside a notebook the director kept with him at all times during the production of the film); rehearsal footage; a promotional featurette from 1971; and video segments on Gordon Willis's cinematography, Nino Rota's and Carmine Coppola's music, the director, the locations and Mario Puzo's screenplays. The DVD also held a Corleone family tree, a "Godfather" timeline, and footage of the Academy Award acceptance speeches.
The restoration was confirmed by Francis Ford Coppola during a question-and-answer session for The Godfather Part III, when he said that he had just seen the new transfer and it was "terrific".
After a careful restoration of the first two movies, The Godfather movies were released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 23, 2008, under the title The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. The work was done by Robert A. Harris of Film Preserve. The Blu-ray Disc box set (four discs) includes high-definition extra features on the restoration and film. They are included on Disc 5 of the DVD box set (five discs).
Other extras are ported over from Paramount's 2001 DVD release. There are slight differences between the repurposed extras on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc sets, with the HD box having more content.
Paramount lists the new (HD) extra features as:
- Godfather World
- The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't
- ...when the shooting stopped
- Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather
The Godfather on the Red Carpet
- Four Short Films on The Godfather
- The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II
- Riffing on the Riffing
In March 2006, a video game version of The Godfather was released by Electronic Arts. Before his death, Marlon Brando provided voice work for Vito; however, owing to poor sound quality from Brando's failing health, only parts of the recordings could be used. A sound-alike's voice had to be used in the "missing parts". James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Abe Vigoda lent their voices and likenesses as well, and several other Godfather cast members had their likeness in the game. However, Al Pacino's likeness and voice (Michael Corleone) was not in the game as Al Pacino sold his likeness and voice exclusively for use in the Scarface video game. Francis Ford Coppola said in April 2005 that he was not informed and did not approve of Paramount allowing the game's production, and openly criticized the move.
- Further reading
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