I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Godfather, 1972

Rated R

This movie is straight up gansta. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, (whose winery in Sonoma is amazing by the way), this landmark film about the Italian mafia family of New York was the highest grossing film of its time. (I didn’t know that it was a modern take on Shakespeare’s King Lear.) It is a story of crime, power, corruption, honor, and justice in the 1940’s.

Marlon Brando plays Don Vito Corleone, the patriarch of the crime family/“the Godfather”, superbly. His cheeks are as famous as he is in this film; supposedly, he stuffed his gums with cotton balls in order for his character to appear like a “bulldog” and then had a custom mouthpiece made for the filming. There are five other crime families in New York and “The Don” finds himself and his family in a bit of trouble when they refuse to operate a drug trade with the other families.

Al Pacino (also superb) plays Vito’s son Michael who does not want to get involved in the family business. At the beginning of the film, after telling his girlfriend Kay a quick story about the way his family does business, Michael reassures her, “That’s my family Kay… that’s not me”. However, after his father’s attempted murder(s), at the end of the film, Michael himself, is responsible for many murders and is being “crowned” the new Don of the family, the new Godfather… cue “The Godfather Part II”.

A few times I found it hard to keep track of who’s who especially when the other five mafia families from around the country get involved. There were too many names and deaths. But I did follow the story better this time than when my husband first showed it to me eight years ago. I had to look up the term “guinea” which was being thrown around quite a bit in the film. Apparently, for Italians, it is the equivalent of the n-word for African Americans.

“The Godfather” is at the top of every list of must-see classics. It’s a part of pop culture and references are everywhere. For that alone, I recommend this film… but I also think it’s worth it. The film is home for some of the most unforgettable movie lines. For instance…
- “He sleeps with the fishes.” …which means he’s dead
- “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” …which means he’s going to bribe/force somebody to do something in an illegal and/or dangerous way
- “Go to the mattresses.” …which means prepare for battle/all-out war (I don’t know why it means that, but I’m suddenly remembering that it is referenced by Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”.)

“The Godfather” was up against “Cabaret” with the am-AH-zing Liza Minnelli, “The Emigrants”, “Deliverance”, and “Sounder” (which I remember to be a children’s novel). “Cabaret” and “The Godfather” were tied with ten nominations each. Interestingly, “Cabaret” received eight awards, while “The Godfather” walked away with only three! One of which was Best Actor, but Marlon Brando refused to accept it; he was boycotting on behalf of American Indian Rights and sent an activist to read a speech in his place. Also worthy of noting: the Best Music (Original Dramatic Score) nomination was revoked when it was discovered that the composer’s score had already been used in other films!! Apparently, he wrote some of the music for a comedy in 1958 when it was played brisk and staccato, very different from when it was replayed for “The Godfather”.


One of the most suspenseful scenes is when Michael meets a couple crooked cops at a restaurant in order to straighten things out, but really wants revenge. Most of their dinner conversation is in Italian and is NOT subtitled, so it’s frustrating not knowing what’s being said. You don’t know if Michael has the guts to go through with it and if he does, will he get caught?


Be a man/woman of your word. The Godfather certainly respected and demanded honesty and trust. If you don’t make promises you can’t keep, you won’t get into trouble.

Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. It’s easy to take some things personally, even when they may not be intended that way. Stay calm and take a minute to think before you respond out of anger, jealousy, hurt, etc.

And another famous line… “Leave the gun… Take the cannoli.” Sometimes you gotta leave work alone and take time to enjoy life’s finer things. J

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I love that you brought out some of the history, like the meaning of words and the Oscar scandals. I have seen this once a while ago but really think I need to see it again.