The Godfather

Template:Infobox Movie

The Godfather is a novel written by Mario Puzo about a fictitious Italian Mafia family. The novel was adapted into a film of the same name directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. The film spawned two sequels.

"The Godfather" (in Italian, Il Padrino) is a term used to identify the boss of a Mafia clan, the eldest or the most representative member of a family. (See godparent for the origins of the term.) In the novel, this character was Don Vito Corleone, whose surname recalls the town of Corleone, Sicily. Similarly, the surname of Don Vito's mother is Corigliano, coming from the town of Corigliano Calabro, Calabria, which is well known for ndrangheta activity.

It should be noted that in the movie sequel, The Godfather II, it was revealed that the Godfather's real name was Vito Andolini and he was given the surname Corleone as a result of a mistake during his registration at Ellis Island. This was a common occurrence which still occurs even today. However, in the book, this fact is made explicit, with the 12-year-old Vito adopting the Corleone name by choice, instead of having it given to him in error.



The motion picture adaptation of The Godfather (1972) was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola had directed several films prior to this, but none of them had had a significant impact on the public. Shooting began on March 29, 1971 and was completed on August 6, 1971. The producers of the movie did not believe that The Godfather would be very successful; hence, there was an extremely low budget for the film. Interestingly, this obliged the crew to use regular lights, instead of the production/set lights, lending a realistic look to the film.

The film spans ten years from late 1945 to 1955 (after Don Vito Corleone's death in 1954).

The producers originally wanted Robert Redford to play Michael Corleone, but Coppola wanted Al Pacino. Pacino was not well known at the time, and was not considered right for the part. Pacino was only granted the role after Coppola threatened to quit the production.

Puzo helped in the making of the movie and its sequels and co-wrote screenplay. The movie was an enormous box-office hit, smashing previous records to become the highest-grossing film of all time (until that record was surpassed by Jaws in 1975, and a number of other movies afterwards).

The role of Don Vito Corleone was memorably acted by Marlon Brando, and Brando won an Academy Award (which he did not accept) for his portrayal of the aging Don. Many of the actors playing the supporting roles were largely unknown or minor actors; however, they rocketed into the limelight with the success of The Godfather. Al Pacino and Robert Duvall, in particular, went on to enjoy long, successful, highly acclaimed careers.

Since its release on March 15, 1972, The Godfather has been accused of glorifying the image of the Mafia. Vito Corleone was portrayed by Brando as a Mafia Don whom people could actually respect (although the actions of Don Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II worked to tear down this image).

Critical acclaim

The film is greatly respected among critics and the public. It was voted greatest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly, and #3 of all time by the American Film Institute. It is currently ranked #1 on IMDB's Top 250.

The Godfather won three Academy Awards:

It was nominated for eight additional Academy Awards.

As its sequel The Godfather Part II also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the Godfather trilogy remains the only series ever to win multiple "Best Picture" Oscars.

Additionally, The Godfather won five Golden Globes, one Grammy, and numerous other awards. The line, "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse", appearing in the film spoken by Don Vito, was voted in a 2005 poll by the American Film Institute as the second most memorable line in cinema history [1] (


A sequel, The Godfather Part II, was released in 1974. It consists of two parallel storylines, and the film switches back and forth between them. One storyline is the continuing story involving Michael Corleone in the 1950s; the other is a flashback sequence following his father, Vito, from his youth in Sicily up through the founding of the Corleone crime family in New York and the births of Michael and his siblings. This version of Vito is played by different actors at different ages, but the adult Vito is played by Robert DeNiro, who won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for a role in which, interestingly, he speaks almost no English-language dialogue. Many critics consider the sequel to be equal to (if not superior to) the original film in quality.

Coppola re-edited the two movies together, in chronological order (adding some previously unseen footage but also toning down the violence), into one long saga for TV broadcast, entitled The Godfather Saga (aka "The Godfather: The Complete Novel For Television" and "The Godfather: 1901-1959--The Complete Epic"). While easier to understand, this version is not as interesting from a critical and artistic standpoint as the originals.

Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II have been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

In 1990, Coppola released a belated third film, The Godfather Part III. This film was successful financially, but critical and fan response was mixed. However, the movie still received seven Academy Award nominations, among them "Best Motion Picture" and "Best Cinematography". The film is notable for the key role played, though ineffectually, by Coppola's daughter, the future Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sofia Coppola, who was forced to play Mary Corleone on short notice after Winona Ryder became ill.

The movie was set in 1979, and focused on an aging Michael Corleone. Parts of the film were loosely based on real historical events, including the death of Pope Paul VI, the election of John Paul I, and his subsequent death.

In the late 1990s, rumors circulated regarding another installment of the series, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Andy Garcia apparently expressing interest. However, after the death of Mario Puzo in 1999, a new sequel appears very unlikely.

In 2004, Random House published a new sequel to the Godfather saga, The Godfather Returns ( by Mark Winegardner ( It has been almost universally maligned.

The video game company Electronic Arts is currently working on a video game version of The 'Godfather. Prior to his death, Marlon Brando provided the voice for Vito. Francis Ford Coppola said in April 2005 that he was not informed of Paramount's decision to allow the game to be made and he did not approve of it.


The movies have powerfully influenced the image of the Mafia among the public. The scene where Don Vito in a deep voice says "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" is often parodied.

Reports from Mafia trials and confessions have suggested that Mafia families began a "real life" tradition of paying respect to the family don by kissing his ring, in imitation of the opening scene of The Godfather.

The image of the Mafia as being a medieval-style organisation with a "royal family" doing favours for underlings is very popular. For example, in John Grisham's novel The Firm, the Mafia is depicted as having an organisation wherein the top mobsters marry into the "royal family". However, this image bears little resemblance to the more sordid reality of a Mafia "family", which is depicted in the film Goodfellas.


Video game

The Godfather: The Game features the voices of Marlon Brando, James Caan, and Robert Duvall. Al Pacino refused to reprise the role of Michael Corleone because rival publisher VU Games is still trying to hire Pacino to voice Tony Montana in its upcoming Scarface game. Even if Pacino could voice the game, his voice would probably have changed too much.

External links


de:Der Pate es:El padrino fr:Le Parrain it:Il Padrino (film) nl:The Godfather ja:ゴッドファーザー pt:The Godfather sv:Gudfadern th:เดอะก็อดฟาเธอร์ zh:教父


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