Francis Coppola

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    1. A person whose profession is acting on the stage, in movies, or on television.
    2. A person who behaves in a way that is not genuine.

"Quite simply the finest gangster film ever made."
- Paul Page


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    Francis Ford Coppola, 1972

    Albert S. Ruddy

running time:
    175 minutes. Colour

    Coppola, Mario Puzo (from Puzo's novel)

    Gordon Willis
    Nino Rota

main cast:

  • best film
  • best actor (Brando)
  • best screenplay

oscar nominations:
  • best director
  • best supporting actor (Pacino, Duvall, Caan)
  • best costume (Anna Hill Johnstone)
  • best sound recording (Bud Grenzbach, Richard Portman, Christopher Newman)
  • best film editing (William Reynolds, Peter Zinner)





Quite simply the finest gangster film ever made, although morally disturbing in its presentation of the Mafia as, if not exactly the good guys, then at least worthy of our admiration. What, specifically, we are asked to admire are their sense of family and their loyalty to each other. Bearing in mind that the Mafia take care of their families and each other by means of organised crime and murder, this is a most specious argument, but in The Godfather it is put across with such brazen confidence that one finds oneself nodding agreement.

What we are shown here is the dark side of the American Dream, a glamorous, ruthless group of people whose aspirations are precisely the same as those of legitimate big business, only their methods are a little different. Paramount (in the person of Robert Evans) chose the hitherto not particularly successful Francis Coppola to direct the film because he was of Italian origin and more likely to understand the society he was trying to depict. It was an excellent choice because Coppola delivered an extraordinary movie, a portrait of American free enterprise gone mad. Every scene, from the opening set piece to the massacre on the cathedral steps, teams with life (or death); the characters are vividly drawn and, yes, we do admire them and mourn with Brando and Pacino at the murder of Sonny (James Caan). Now, very well, deep down this is mere pulp fiction, but it's raised to epic proportions by a director who, at his best, is a genuine artist of the cinema.

The grainy realism of the photography and Nino Rota's distinctive music - whose Oscar nomination was withdrawn when it was later learned that part of the score had been used in the 1958 Italian film Fortunella - merely add further dimensions to what is already a masterly work.


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