Make him an offer he cannot refuse

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli

All those wonderful quotes. All from one seemingly wonderful and definitely loved film. Does it really stand the test of time at almost the peak of the top 250 ImDb list?

By the way, I have a go at the oranges. And I’m not even sorry.

Marlon Brando as Don Corleone in the classic black and white artwork of the Godfather franchise

The iconic Godfather poster with manipulative puppet strings

What is this film?

“The Godfather” (1972) is the first film in a trilogy about the Mafia family, Corleone. It is based on a novel by the same name by Mario Puzo. Writer/director Francis Ford Coppola wanted the actual title to be “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather” because the script ended up being so similar to the book he felt some credit was well deserved.

Afraid that the story glorified the mafia and unwilling to set such a stigma on his own Italian heritage, Francis Ford Coppola initially said no to directing the film. Some say he eventually did the movie because he needed the money, others say it was because he figured he could make the film an allegory of American capitalism.

I’m going to go for the money one.

Why do people say it is good?

The body count, including the horse, is 18. Maybe that’s why people like it?

Maybe it’s because, like The British Daily Telegraph said so eloquently (in a quote I have only managed to find on ImDb):

[The Godfather is] a vision of the hollowness of American capitalism and its effect on the family – like Death of a Salesman with spaghetti and a criminal empire

That sounds so beautiful.

I believe in basics, and I guess in this case it is our basic instincts that just loves a proper anarchist who takes no bullshit from no one. And obviously we all love Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

Above all, people love to tell me how the oranges signify death…

The Death of the Oranges

Get over the oranges already!

Even if they were placed at scenes signalling the imminent death of a character. So what?

I have much more faith in the producton designer stating that the oranges were solely used to light up otherwise dark material. The colour palette of the film, which is different shades of yellow-orange amber to orange tinted reds together with black, also goes well with, yes you guessed it, ORANGES.

Why do I lay to scraps this orange theory? Because it doesn’t happen at every death. If this was a thing, it would be every single death. Why wouldn’t it? And regardless, if all of the deaths had some arbitrary act of oranges next to them, what function does this actually have but to wet the pants of people who overanalyse every aspect of their favourite movies?

None! No function.

And if an element of storytelling doesn’t enhance the story, then why bother.

I call bull shit on the oranges!

Do I think its any good?

I will grant the movie this, the first 30 minutes is pure genius in exposition. Not in furthering a story, but in exposition.

The juxtaposition between the pastel coloured wedding outside in the garden and the dark, golden orange shadows of the Dons study and the way the theme of family and tradition perfectly unfold is pure cinema magic.

The introduction of Marlon Brando as Don Corleone is unforgettable. I am not talking about his italian accent, his jawline or any of his mumbling lines. The unforgettable part is how the first meeting with Don Corleone leaves us feeling that he is big-hearted and generous. He did after all give his disrespectful acquaintance his wish of hurting the thugs who maimed his daughter.

We are left slightly puzzled by this kindness, until someone in the wedding states the rule:

A Sicilian can’t say no on his daughter’s wedding day.

Tradition and family rules.

And it’s a proper family film given that Coppola, within the constraints of the book, based loads of the characters on his family members and even used a whole bunch of them as actors in the films.

I think it’s safe to say that there are aspects and sequences of this movie that I have to admit I love and admire. There is just one thing.

It is too effin long!

And that is no joke. The version I watched this time around is 2 hours and 57 minutes.

The first time I watched it, I painfully felt the minutes ticking by. Every elongated take, every uneccesary moment got annoying.

This time around I am more grown up and more patient, but I still had to watch it over two days because when Michael moves to Sicily, I just have to do something else. It all takes too long.

I’ve even been to the beautiful town of Savoca and walked through its pittoresque, cobbled streets and had a frozen lemon granita in the shade by the very bar where Al Pacino filmed, and still this part makes me want to stop and do something useful with my life.

It says something when Coppola first turned in a director’s cut, it was a measly 126 minutes. It was the production chief who insisted on a longer cut with more family oriented scenes. I for my part would have loved to see Coppola’s cut. I might have loved it all the way through.

Is this movie historically significant?

As a 70s “New Hollywood” auteur film  by a 70s auteur director (meaning Francis Ford Coppola wrote and directed the film) “The Godfather” explored and extended a classical genre, the gangster film, which is typical of this era in many genres like the film noir and the western.

But movie history aside, the interesting historical fact is that there were actually trouble with the Mafia during production of this film. Even Frank Sinatra threw up a frenzy over the likeness between himself and the character Johnny Fontane. They actually cut that character’s screentime because of this.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have left the semblance between Sinatra and Fontane at caricature if it hadn’t been for the fact that Sinatra actually cared enough to kick up a fuzz.

Must be true that he was Mafia then…

Does it stand the test of time?

At least it is epic and there isn’t a man alive who doesn’t have a Godfather fase on the same line as a Star Wars craze.

The question is whether the next generation will handle the static and slow camera, the washed out 70s look and do what’s proper and have “the fase”. Maybe I should go out and ask some teenagers?

Whether or not I like it, it will always stand as one of the great mafia/gangster films, and I think it will only start fading away if some new movie comes and takes the Mafia spotlight away. But The Don would never let that happen 😉

Further watching

Obviously you can make it a Godfather-a-thon and watch all three instalments, The Godfather II is actually the next on the ImDb top 250 list and managed to win 6 Academy Awards, as opposed to “The Godfather”‘s measly three statues. By this time you will be hooked and watch Godfather III. I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Other films, also part of the same “New Hollywood” era would be the film-noir “Chinatown” (1974) by Roman Polanski or the western-film “The Wild Bunch” (1969) by Sam Pekinpah. They all are perfect examples of the thoughtful, “quality” movies that came out of this era, which resulted in commercial successes such as “Jaws” (1975), “Star Wars” (1977) and “Raiders of the Lost Arc” (1981) by Spielberg and Lucas.

They are also a bit slow and long, like this one.

Oranges splattered on dark asphalt next to the shot and wounded Don Corelone

The oranges brilliantly light up this dark Gods-point-of-view shot

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype. This is not a per se a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it a movie like the plague.

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

Where can you find the film?

They actually have all three of the movies on Netflix. But if you are like anyone else, you might as well just buy them. Either you or your boyfriend/girlfriend will love them and want to have a weekend of Godfather-a-thon. This history has proven time and time again.

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than the bottom of the list. I have already done #1 on top 250 ImDb “Shawshank Redemption”.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – which one is worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some film history and art books in my possession. Take a look at this other blog post by Precious Bodily Fluids if you’d like a deeper look into “The Godfather” than shallow little me bothers to do here.

Sign up with your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at (can you believe it) “The Godfather II”!