The Godfather (1972)

Godfather

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Leaves an impression.

What I’m about may stun you. I have never once seen any of the Godfather films until now nor knew what any of them were about apart from jokes now and then of how Marlon Brando sounds and the phrase, “going to the mattresses”. When it came down to really famous film series, I am always shocked to hear about those who haven’t seen Star Wars or Indiana Jones or the like, you know, really famous franchises. I realized that the same would apply to others to know I haven’t seen any films in this franchise, which got me thinking. The Godfather and its two sequels are often regarded as some of the best movies ever made. Period. Many have this film in their Top 10, or even Top 5 Films of All Time lists. Obviously I had to check it out. Overall, the film really does leave an impression, but I’ve got my issues with it as well.

Now, this film centers around the godfather, otherwise known as the Don, otherwise known as Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) – a crime boss centered in New York. In Spider-Man, he would be the Kingpin. Now, Vito’s aging, and there are five competing crime bosses around the country that are going to war with each other (mattresses) due to something to do with narcotics. After Corleone is gunned down, he miraculously survives and his condition forces the man to hand the business down to his son, Michael (Al Pachino) who learns the trick of the trade. Suddenly, because of their actions, the other bad guys took out their sick competition and kick started something fierce and vengeful, and the Corleone family business begins to come back to full power.

I want to first point out the main flaw I had issues with in this film, because there are a few. The first is pacing/timing. I’ll be honest, when it came down to distinguish what exactly is happening and why, I got lost because so much happened so fast without any warning or even time to think about it after, it just shoots to the next scene, which could be many months to a year in the future – and you just kind of have to…figure that out for yourself for the most part. So yeah, my main complaint with this film actually had a lot to do with confusion, because my next complaint is the accents.

Yes, they are Italian, which I have no problem with normally, but their accents are super thick and hard to understand sometimes, especially you, Marlon. They make fun of the accent in a lot of media, yes, and it’s not as bad in the film, but there are moments where I really don’t know what he just said. They also bounce back and forth from English to Italian from time to time, which I’ve never understood – for any movie, why a single conversation can’t take place completely in one language. It’s not that difficult, really.

I’ll try to bundle up the last of my complaints really quickly, since they aren’t as bad – just things I made note of: It’s too long; it feels old in the sense that it doesn’t match much modern expectations; it can be boring for the wrong audience (which is a lot more than you would normally think); oh and this is a biggie – it’s not as good as everyone puts it out to be. Seriously, a lot of people put this film at 100% and it doesn’t deserve 100. It’s got good moments, which I’ll lay out next, but it’s got flaws. The real reason people love this film is because when it came out in 1972, there was never anything like it, and it must have been so insane that it made a huge impression, and that impression lasted a lifetime. Now, in 2014, as far as expectations go in the new world, some things just weren’t impressive. The violence was great in 1972, but you get more violence in an episode of Bones or Hannibal now than you did with The Godfather, and more realistic and amazing-looking violence. Heck, even Saw had better violence. I’m not dogging on the past, I’m sure it was great, but I’m part of a modern audience with modern expectations, and I wasn’t blown away by most of what I saw.

Now I’ll tell you what I did like. In a lot of ways, this film is a god among mafia movies. I will absolutely bow to The Godfather for its revolutionary look into mafia members’ lives. However, I hate mafia movies in general. All of ‘em. Can’t stand ‘em. They leave a bad taste in my mouth. They did a wonderful job all around, though. Great acting, casting, characters, choreography, music, man the music is iconic, but they main reason I’ve always avoided this film was the fear that I wouldn’t care for it due to my distaste towards mafia films. I thought maybe the fact that everyone seems to love it may sway me, and in a way it did. This is one of the highest ratings I’ve ever given a mafia film, but it’s still much lower than the typical rating.

Sorry to let my fellow critics down.

The Good:

The Godfather is definitely an original film that practically serves as a base for every future mafia gangster movie ever made. The acting, casting, characters, direction, writing, and cinematography were all very well done, and it’s not hard to see on a production-level how everyone loves this film.

The Bad:

It’s not as good as everyone puts it out to be. It doesn’t match modern expectations hardly at all, the pacing is confusing, the accents are sometimes too thick to understand, and ultimately when all is said and done…the story is a bit difficult to follow everything.

The Question:

I’m on the fence…do you think you can pitch The Godfather: Part II  to me in a way that will get me to watch it? If you think you can – go for it.

Memorable Quote:

Godfather: I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.

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4 thoughts on “The Godfather (1972)

  1. If you have a general dislike for Mafia films, not sure I can “sell” you on Part II, but I’ll give it a shot. There is less confusion to be had even though there are basically two plots – Michael’s rise to power, while flashbacks show how Vito (De NIro, this tme) did the same. Though, I will warn you that most (all? I can’t remember) of Vito’s scenes are in Italian. The pacing is better, even though it’s a bit longer. Again, the production is top notch (acting, directing, cinematography, etc.). I think the ending is fantastic. And, in my opinion, I think it’s an overall better movie.

    • Interesting, and I don’t have a problem with the italian as much as I do with single conversations switching between languages for no apparent reason. That’s a HUGE pet peeve

  2. Just stumbled upon your blog from my friend Keith’s. Nice site you’ve got here, and great review of an iconic film. It’s amazing how many imitations this film has launched since.

    • Thanks, Ruth! Yeah, Kieth’s a good guy, good review friend. The Godfather is definitely iconic, no matter how good or bad you think it is, because it IS a base for all those mafia flicks that followed it. Pretty interesting. Thank you for stopping by!

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