The Godfather is probably one of the most well-known movies on the planet. Beloved by film aficionados, it’s a classic portrayal of gangster life and the Italian mafia, and it was released in 1972. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it features some major celebrity names including Diane Keaton, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, and Robert Duvall.
Though Coppola and the film studio disagreed about some of the casting, shooting went smoothly and the crew moved between New York City and Sicily. When it was released, it was the highest-grossing film of the year and, for a short time, the highest-grossing film ever at over $280 million at the box office.
You might recognize some of these famous lines from the film:
- “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
- “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
- “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli!”
Roger Ebert points out that it’s easy to sympathize with every character in the film, due to clever scripting choices. “During the movie we see not a single actual civilian victim of organized crime,” Ebert observes. “No women trapped into prostitution. No lives wrecked by gambling. No victims of theft, fraud or protection rackets.”
This film was a major boon to the career of Marlon Brando, whose popularity in Hollywood was beginning to die down. The Godfather also catalyzed the careers of relative newcomers, like Keaton and Pacino, skyrocketing them into popularity and ensuring successful long-term careers in the industry. The film is universally recognized as being one of the greatest films ever made, and the Library of Congress has even included it in the archives of the U.S. National Film Registry to honor its cultural contributions.
Two equally successful sequels were eventually released, The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III.