The son of a Mafia boss returns from the war and following an attempt on his father’s life, becomes ever more embroiled in the shadowy world of organised crime.
Francis Ford Coppola’s classic gangster saga is the story of a criminal dynasty headed by Marlon Brando in one of his most iconic roles. Coppola’s direction is deceptively simple in that he uses no gimmicks or stylistic tricks; he merely allows the story to unfold and lets the superb cast do their thing. Brando’s mumbling family and loyalty obsessed don has since become part of popular culture folklore – along with the classic score – and all of the accompanying performances are top notch, from James Caan’s hot-headed Santino to Robert Duval’s purely business-orientated adviser. But this film is really the story of Michael’s transition from honest war hero to shadowy underworld figure, played by Al Pacino in his finest role. The pivotal scene in which his newborn godson is baptised while Michael himself, the newborn “Godfather”, is baptised in blood is an all-time great.
This is the birth of the modern gangster film and with the possible exception of Goodfellas, it is still to be surpassed.