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Logline: The aging patriarch of an Italian mafia family dynasty prepares to transfer control over to his reluctant son.

Review: Like The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather has engrained itself in American popular culture.  Most people are at least aware of the film even if they have not actually seen it.  Coppola’s film, an adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel, shows a more realistic depiction of American gangsters than previous films had shown.  This epic tale of an Italian American family is just as great as its reputation suggests.  The Godfather is an important film that gave rise to many American gangster films in the decades to follow.

The acting in The Godfather is superb.  Prior to Coppola’s landmark film, gangsters were typically played by non-Italian actors.  The decision to hire an Italian filmmaker and use Italian actors was a wise one, adding to the film’s authenticity.  Ironically, the film’s best performance is from Marlon Brando, one of the film’s few non-Italian actors.  Brando’s performance as Don Corleone is nothing short of legendary.

Prior to The Godfather, gangster films clearly depicted the mob as the bad guys.  Coppola’s film makes these criminals sympathetic characters.  The Godfather is also a fine lesson in narrative filmmaking.  It is a fabulously crafted masterpiece and one of the centerpieces of 1970s American cinema.

The Godfather was followed by The Godfather Part II (1974), one of the greatest sequels in the history of film and The Godfather Part III (1990), a solid film in its own right but nowhere near the quality of the first two.

Great scene: The opening sequence is brilliant and establishes the world that the viewer will inhabit for the remainder of the film.