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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

The Godfather (1972) ft. Robb Conlon

Updated: Mar 27

Plot Summary: In 1945, Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), the head of the Corleone Crime Family in New York, sits at a major turning point for organized crime in America as they determine whether to get involved in the narcotic drug trade. After a mob war breaks out, Vito's sons: Sonny (James Caan), Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), Fredo (John Cazale), and Michael (Al Pacino) are all thrust into the center of the family business to see which one of them will evolve the family business into the next era of the American Mafia.


  • Francis Ford Coppola as Director

  • Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone

  • Al Pacino as Michael

  • James Caan as Sonny

  • Richard Castellano as Clemenza

  • Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen

  • Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey

  • John Marley as Jack Woltz

  • Richard Conte as Barzini

  • Al Lettieri as Sollozzo

  • Diane Keaton as Kay Adams

  • Abe Vigoda as Tessio

  • Talia Shire as Connie

  • Gianni Russo as Carlo

  • John Cazale as Fredo

  • Al Martino as Johnny Fontane


  • The Godfather was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records to become the highest grossing film of 1972.

  • After 18 weeks at number one in the United States, it was the second film to gross $100 million in North America behind the Sound of Music (1965).

  • It remained at number one in the US for another five weeks to bring its total to 23 consecutive weeks at number one before being unseated by Butterflies Are Free for one week before becoming number one for another three weeks.

  • Profits were so high for The Godfather that earnings for Gulf & Western Industries, Inc., which owned Paramount, jumped from 77 cents per share to $3.30 a share for the year, according to a Los Angeles Times article, dated December 13, 1972.

  • It was nominated for Best Director (Coppola), Best Supporting Actor (James Caan, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall), Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound, and Dramatic Score (which was subsequently revoked).

  • It won the 1972 Best Picture Award, Best Actor (Brando who refused the award), and Adapted Screenplay.

  • 1998 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – No. 3

  • 2001 AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – No. 11

  • 2005 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

    • "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." – No. 2

  • 2006 AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores – No. 5

  • 2007 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 2

  • 2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 – No. 1 Gangster Film

  • In 1990, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

  • In 1992, The Godfather ranked 6th in Sight & Sound Greatest Films of All Time director's poll.

  • In 1998, Time Out conducted a poll and The Godfather was voted the best film of all time.

  • In 1998, The Village Voice ranked The Godfather at number 12 in its Top 250 "Best Films of the Century" list, based on a poll of critics.

  • In 1999, Entertainment Weekly named it the greatest film ever made.

  • In 2002, Sight & Sound polled film directors and they voted the film and its sequel as the second best film ever; the critics poll separately voted it fourth.

  • In 2002, The Godfather was ranked the second best film of all time by Film4, after Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

  • In 2002, the film (along with The Godfather Part II) was voted at No. 39 on the list of the "Top 100 Essential Films of All Time" by the National Society of Film Critics.

  • In 2005, Named one of the 100 greatest films of the last 80 years by Time magazine (the selected films were not ranked).

  • In 2006, The Writers Guild of America voted it the number two in its list of the 101 greatest screenplays, after Casablanca.

  • In 2008, it was voted in at No. 1 on Empire magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

  • In 2008, it was voted at No. 50 on the list of "100 Greatest Films" by the prominent French magazine Cahiers du cinéma.

  • In 2009, The Godfather was ranked at No. 1 on Japanese film magazine kinema Junpo's Top 10 Non-Japanese Films of All Time list.

  • In 2010, The Guardian ranked the film 15th in its list of 25 greatest arthouse films.

  • In 2012, The Motion Picture Editors Guild listed The Godfather as the sixth best-edited film of all time based on a survey of its membership.

  • In 2012, the film ranked at number seven on Sight & Sound directors' top ten poll.

  • In 2014, The Godfather was voted the greatest film in a Hollywood Reporter poll of 2120 industry members, including every studio, agency, publicity firm and production house in Hollywood.

  • In 2015, it was second on the BBC's "100 Greatest American Films", voted by film critics from around the world.

Did You Know:

  • Cinematographer Gordon Willis earned himself the nickname "The Prince of Darkness," since his sets were so underlit. Paramount Pictures executives initially thought that the footage was too dark, until persuaded otherwise by Willis and Francis Ford Coppola that it was to emphasize the shadiness of the Corleone family's dealings.

  • Marlon Brando wanted to make Don Corleone "look like a bulldog," so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition. For the actual filming, he wore a mouthpiece made by a dentist. This appliance is on display in the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.

  • Marlon Brando did not memorize most of his lines and read from cue cards during most of the film. As a matter of fact, Marlon, who was the father of Method acting, was famous for this; he felt that doing a cold open type reading for the cameras, and then using that very first un-practiced take, was the best way to get an authentic performance. He did the exact same thing for Superman. The set for Krypton was filled with the cards pasted here and there for Marlon as he read his lines for the first time.

  • There was intense friction between Francis Ford Coppola and Paramount Pictures, in which Paramount Pictures frequently tried to have Coppola replaced, citing his inability to stay on schedule, unnecessary expenses, and production and casting errors (Coppola actually completed the film ahead of schedule and under budget).

  • Francis Ford Coppola turned in an initial Director's Cut running two hours and six minutes. Paramount Pictures production chief Robert Evans rejected this version, and demanded a longer cut with more scenes about the family. The final release version was nearly fifty minutes longer than Coppola's initial cut.

  • Francis Ford Coppola held improvisational rehearsal sessions that simply consisted of the main cast sitting down in character for a family meal. The actors and actresses couldn't break character, which Coppola saw as a way for the cast to organically establish the family roles seen in the final film.

  • Orson Welles lobbied to get the part of Don Vito Corleone, even offering to lose a good deal of weight in order to get the role. Francis Ford Coppola, a Welles fan, had to turn him down because he already had Marlon Brando in mind for the role and felt Welles wouldn't be right for it.

  • Don Vito Corleone's distinctive voice was based on real-life mobster Frank Costello. Marlon Brando had seen him on television during the Estes Kefauver hearings in 1951, and imitated his husky whisper in the film.

  • George Lucas put together the "Mattress Sequence" (the montage of crime scene photos and headlines about the war between the five families) as a favor to Francis Ford Coppola for helping him fund American Graffiti (1973). He asked not to be credited. Lucas used photos from real crime scenes. The corpse on the ground near a chain link fence is Frank Nitti (aka "The Enforcer"), Al Capone's right-hand man who had not been murdered, but actually shot himself. During the scene, Coppola's father, Carmine, is the piano player.

  • One of the reasons why Francis Ford Coppola finally agreed to direct the film was because he was in debt to Warner Brothers, following $400,000 budget overruns on George Lucas's THX 1138 (1971). Lucas urged him to take the job.

  • Sergio Leone was approached to direct the film, but turned it down since he felt the story, which glorified the Mafia, was not interesting enough. He later regretted refusing the offer, but would go on to direct his own critically acclaimed gangster film, Once Upon a Time in America (1984).

  • Francis Ford Coppola was reluctant to let his sister, Talia Shire, audition for the role of Connie. He felt she was too pretty for the part, and did not want to be accused of nepotism. Only at Mario Puzo's request did Shire get a chance to audition.

  • Al Pacino boycotted the Academy Awards ceremony, angry that he was nominated for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar, noting that his character had more screentime than his co-star, Best Actor winner Marlon Brando.

  • Al Pacino's maternal grandparents emigrated to America from Corleone, Sicily, just as Vito Corleone had.

  • In 1974, the film premiered on NBC over two nights: Saturday, November 16, and Monday, November 18, from 9-11 p.m. Both nights, at 11 p.m., New York City's Municipal Water Authorities had some overflow problems from all of the toilets flushing around the same time.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Despite his father Vito's wishes, the Corleone family crime business is thrust upon his youngest son, Michael, after he falls victim to an inter-mob war in New York.

Best Performance: Al Pacino (Michael)/Marlon Brando (Godfather)/Francis Ford Coppola (Director)

Best Secondary Performance: Al Pacino (Michael)/Francis Ford Coppola (Director)/Robert Duvall (Tom)/James Caan (Sonny)

Most Charismatic Award: Marlon Brando (Godfather)

Best Scene:

  • Connie's Wedding

  • Woltz's Wake-Up Call

  • Vito Gunned Down

  • Luca Brasi Sleeps with the Fishes

  • The Hospital

  • Michael Kills Solozzo

  • Michael Courts Apollonia

  • Sonny Beats Down Carlo

  • Car Bomb

  • Sonny at the Toll Booth

  • Brokering Peace

  • Vito's Final Moment

  • Settling All Family Business

  • Don Corleone

Favorite Scene: Settling All Family Business/Connie's Wedding/Woltz's Wake-Up Call

Most Indelible Moment: Woltz's Wake-Up Call/Luca Brasi Sleeps with the Fishes

In Memorium:

  • Hardy Kruger, 93 (German Actor) best remembered for his leading and supporting roles in action and war films but who showed understated skill in tender dramas such as the Oscar-winning “Sundays and Cybèle", he also starred in the 1957 British drama “The One That Got Away,” which was based on a true story about a captured German fighter pilot who stages daring attempts to escape the Allies and, as the title suggests, finally succeeds. The film, tautly directed by Roy Ward Baker, drew excellent reviews and elevated Mr. Kruger’s cachet in English-speaking cinema. Mr. Hardy starred with John Wayne in the safari movie “Hatari” (1962) and appeared in the all-star cast of “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965) alongside James Stewart, Richard Attenborough and Peter Finch. He also had roles in “Barry Lyndon” (1975), “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “The Wild Geese” (1978).

  • Peter Robbins, 65 (American Actor and Voice Actor) Robbins is best known for voicing the beloved blockhead in the classic holiday specials A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), originating the trademark "aaugh" scream that continues to be used. Along with the prime-time specials Charlie Brown's All Stars! (1966), You're in Love, Charlie Brown (1967), He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (1968), and It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969), Robbins voiced the so-called "lovable loser" in the first Peanuts feature film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969). Robbins suffered from bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. In 2019, the Charlie Brown actor was released from prison after serving 80 percent of a five-year sentence for making criminal threats. He told FOX 5 San Diego that year he intended to write a memoir about his experiences in jail entitled "Confessions of a Blockhead." "I came out of prison and I'm a better person for it," he said at the time. "I'm much more humble, grateful, and thankful that I lived through the experience." In 2019, Robbins said his newly touched-up arm tattoo of Charlie Brown and Snoopy was "a symbol to me of refurbishing my life," adding of Peanuts fans, "Charlie Brown fans are the greatest fans in the world. And everybody is willing, I hope, to give me a second chance." Other roles include credits on Rawhide and episodes of '60s sitcoms The Donna Reed Show, The Munsters, and The Farmer's Daughter. His final acting role was as Jeffrey Fredericks in a 1972 episode of My Three Sons.

  • Tadeusz Bradecki, 67 (Polish actor and director) known for Television Theater (1953), Schindler's List (1993) and Camera Buff (1979).

  • Vachik Mangassarian, 78 (Armenian actor) a character actor who appeared on "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Mentalist" had recently been filming the movie “Moving On,” starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and had also shared photos of him and the actresses on his Facebook page. The Iran-born Armenian actor moved to the United States at age 23 and worked as a waiter in Los Angeles while immersing himself into the entertainment scene. Mangassarian then landed his first film role for “The South’s Shark” in 1978. His other TV credits include “JAG,” “NYPD Blue" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

  • Kathryn Kates, 73 (American actress) had a recurring role in the '90s sitcom "Seinfeld," starring alongside Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. With a TV career spanning more than three decades, Kates performed in a number of era-defining shows. She also featured in the gritty Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," and the legal drama "The Good Fight," as well as appearing in "The Sopranos" origin film "The Many Saints of Newark."

  • Louie Anderson, 68 (American comedian, actor) won a 2016 Emmy for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Christine Baskets, mother to twins played by Zach Galifianakis. Anderson received three consecutive Emmy nods for his performance. He was a familiar face elsewhere on TV, including as host of a revival of the game show "Family Feud" from 1999 to 2002, and on comedy specials and in frequent late-night talk show appearances. Anderson voiced an animated version of himself as a kid in "Life With Louie." He created the cartoon series, which first aired in prime time in late 1994 before moving to Saturday morning for its 1995-98 run. Anderson won two Daytime Emmy Awards for the role. He made guest appearances in several TV series, including "Scrubs" and "Touched by an Angel," and was on the big screen in 1988′s "Coming to America" and in last year's sequel to the Eddie Murphy comedy.

  • Meat Loaf, 74 (American singer, actor) the singer's, whose real name is Marvin Lee Aday, two biggest albums — 1977’s “Bat out of Hell” and the 1993 follow-up “Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell” — produced numerous hit singles including “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He also won a Grammy in 1993 for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for the song “I’d Do Anything for Love.” Meat Loaf has also appeared in several television shows and films, including the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Fight Club” and “Wayne’s World.”

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Don Vito Corleone: I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.

Don Vito Corleone: A friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your faults.

Clemenza: Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

Sonny Corleone: [Tessio brings in Luca Brasi's bulletproof vest, delivered with a fish inside] What the hell is this?

Clemenza: It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.

Sollozzo: I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a businessman. Blood is a big expense.

Calo: In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.

Don Vito Corleone: I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen.

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 10

Impact/Significance: 10

Novelty: 7.33

Classic-ness: 8.58

Rewatchability: 8.25

Audience Score: 9.5 (92% Google, 98% RT)

Total: 53.66

Remaining Questions:

  • Does Michael ever tell Kay about Appolonia?

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