This is another one that I'm only really talking about because of its cultural significance. However, while I've enjoyed the other "classic" mob movies to a point, this is the one I would watch over and over again. I actually meant to watch it again in preparation for this review, but time isn't always on my side these days.
The Godfather is 40.
I first heard of it as a kid, when Animaniacs did their "Goodfellas" send-up (another thing I wouldn't know about otherwise) entitled "Goodfeathers" about mafioso pigeons. Of course, what mafia send-up would be complete without a character based on Brando's performance in Godfather.
And it really is a fantastic and sympathetic performance. He does electrify the screen every moment he's on. Al Pacino was also good in a rare restrained role, Diane Keaton held her own with James Caan and Robert DuVall, and what can be said about John Cazale other than he was taken from us too soon?
The sequels, while important to the story and enjoyable on that level, never really captured the atmosphere of the first one for me, though oddly enough I prefer Part III to Part II mostly because its ending really drives home the point that all mobster movies make but nobody seems to notice:
If you do horrible things, horrible things will happen to you.
Too many people nowadays idolize gangsters and mafia types because of movies like this. They pay attention to the middle of the film where people get what they want when they want and strive to want to act like these people, thinking it'll make them "respected". What they always seem to miss is the part where acting like a monster to everyone makes everyone hate you and turn their back on you. Your relationships suffer, your health suffers, your life is in danger.
What's so interesting about The Godfather is that you do get this message in the middle of the film through Vito's musings soon before his death. But, like Micheal, the majority of the audience ignores it.
It's a good message. It's a needed message that gets lost in the violence. And this is why I'm celebrating 40 years of the Godfather.
They made me an offer I couldn't refuse.