Francis Ford Coppola’s quintessential 1972 gangster classic “The Godfather” will play at The Queen Theatre on Friday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m.
A film which defined the genre and was so popular it influenced mobsters more than they influenced it, “The Godfather” is one of the greatest films of all time.
The three-hour film tells the story of the Corleone crime family. The family is headed by patriarch Vito, played to perfection by Marlon Brando in what is not only his most iconic role, but one of the most recognizable roles in the history of cinema. Every film fan knows the puffy cheeked, cat-stroking Vito Corleone, just like they know his lines “On the day of my daughter’s wedding” and “An offer he can’t refuse.” The character is synonymous with not only the image of the mafia but also with this film.
Al Pacino plays Vito’s son Michael in perfect fashion. “The Godfather” was Pacino’s third film, but it set him up to become one of the most successful and famous actors ever in Hollywood. Pacino lends a kind of quiet savagery to the role; his smooth face simultaneously masking and hinting at the anger his character hides beneath. Michael is both sympathetic and monstrous, at first trying to distance himself from his family’s atrocities, then embracing them to spectacular effect. “The Godfather” is Michael’s story, but it’s Pacino’s film.
James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and John Cazale also hold prominent roles in the film, and each of them act admirably, filling out other roles and offering each of their characters depth.
The plot of “The Godfather” is intricate, dramatic and vast. It’s operatic in scale, presenting audiences with more names, faces and locations than some viewers know what to do with. It portrays power plays, sadistic violence and debts of honor against the grand backdrop of 1940-50s New York City. The dynamics of the Corleone family are laid out on-screen, and the film follows Michael closely as he grows into the family business and rises to power.
Based on Mario Puzo’s book of the same name, the film’s screenplay was co-written by Puzo, Coppola and Robert Towne. The film differs from the book in many ways, but Puzo’s direct contribution to the film’s writing means it stays mostly true to its source material.
In the years since its release, “The Godfather” has become and remained the definitive mob film. Not even Martin Scorsese, a director known for being prolific within the genre, can quite live up, even with the magnificent “Mean Streets” or “Goodfellas.” Coppola’s masterpiece truly is a cut above.
“The Godfather” is a defining film. It defined the gangster genre. For a time before “Apocalypse Now,” it defined Coppola’s career. It defined Al Pacino and shaped the direction his own career would take. It even defined Brando, largely surpassing all of his other characters to become the role he was best known for. Finally, it redefined what the medium of film could be.
The Queen is sure to be packed for this showing. The opportunity to see this ultra-classic on a big screen is too good to miss.