When The Godfather was released in 1972, Francis Ford Coppola became one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
Prior to The Godfather, Coppola who had already directed seven films had yet to have had a hit. Once Godfather hit the screens not only did he have a hit he had a blockbuster.
The story, by Mario Puzo was about a Mafia dynasty (the Corleones). The first of a trilogy, The Godfather introduced us to Don Vito Corleone, played masterfully by Marlon Brando who would go on to win the Academy Award for best actor. Probably the most recognized line in Movie History, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” was made by Brando, forever immortalized on film.
Godfather II, released two years later continued the saga with Vito’s son, Michael Corleone as the Godfather (played by Al Pacino, nominated for the role twice for an Oscar but never won for those roles) and also gave the back story of young Vito Corleone, played by Robert DeNiro. One of my favorite roles was played by the great acting teacher, Lee Strasberg as Jewish crime czar Hyman Roth who was nominated for a Supporting Actor Award.
Many film reviewers consider the second part equal or superior to the original, although the first part was a tremendous critical and commercial success – and the highest grossing film of its time. It also brought filmaking back to it’s pinnacle.
The Godfather was listed as #3 in American Film Institutes’s 100 Greatest Films behind Citizen Kane and Casablanca. The Godfather II is listed as #32.