Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

film Home > Movie Reviews

Film Clips

The Godfather

The Godfather

Director:Francis Ford Coppola
Cast:Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Diane Keaton
Screen Writer:Francis Ford Coppola
Genre:Drama, Classic, Crime

By Lee Gardner | Posted 10/8/2008

If Citizen Kane is largely about what can happen to you without your family, then Francis Ford Coppola's runner-up for the greatest American movie of all time is largely about what happens when you can't escape it. Marlon Brando dropped jaws and won an Oscar for his unrecognizable turn as Mafia don Vito Corleone, but the movie belongs to Al Pacino's prodigal Michael, who has done everything he can to turn his back on the bloody family business without turning his back on his actual blood. When rival mob families make a move against the Corleones, hothead brother Sonny (James Caan) isn't smart enough to counter, impelling erstwhile civilian Michael to murder, flee, plot, win the war, and lose all hope of turning back; his calm embrace of that fate makes him both hero and villain here. Coppola's perfect mise-en-scène, his confidence, his endlessly rewarding script (Clemenza's sauce recipe!), and his deep bench of proto-stars (Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton) and indelible character actors (Richard S. Castellano, Sterling Hayden, Abe Vigoda, John Cazale, Morgana King, Lenny Montana) elevate The Godfather beyond its potboiler origins and into a quintessential American work of art.

E-mail Lee Gardner

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter