The Godfather Trilogy

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Director: Francis Ford Coppola


USA, 1972

Production: Paramount Pictures; Technicolor, 35mm; running time: 176 minutes. Released 11 March 1972. Filmed in New York City and in Sicily. Cost: over $5 million. Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando), Best Screenplay, 1972; New York Film Critics' Award, Best Supporting Actor (Duvall), 1972; Directors Guild of America, Director Award (Coppola), 1972.

Producer: Albert S. Ruddy; screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, from the novel by Mario Puzo; photography: Gordon Willis; editors: William Reynolds, Peter Zinner, Marc Lamb, and Murray Solomon; sound: Bud Granzbach, Richard Portman, Christopher Newman, and Les Lazarowitz; production designer: Philip Smith; art director: Warren Clymer; music: Nino Rota; costume designer: Anna Hill Johnstone.

Cast: Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone); Al Pacino (Michael Corleone); James Caan (Sonny Corleone); Richard Castellano (Clemenza); Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen); Diane Keaton (Kay Adams); Sterling Hayden (McCluskey); Talia Shire (Connie Rizzi); John Cazale (Fredo Corleone).



Zuckerman, Ira, The Godfather Journal, New York, 1972.

Carey, Gary, Brando, New York, 1973.

Jordan, René, Marlon Brando, New York, 1973.

Puzo, Mario, The Making of The Godfather, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1973.

Thomas, Tony, The Films of Marlon Brando, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1973.

Shipman, David, Brando, London, 1974.

Johnson, Robert K., Francis Ford Coppola, Boston, 1977.

Pye, Michael, and Lynda Myles, The Movie Brats: How the FilmGeneration Took Over Hollywood, London, 1979.

Kolker, Robert Philip, A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick,Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Oxford, 1980; revised edition, 1988.

Thomson, David, Overexposures: The Crisis in American Filmmaking, New York, 1981.

Chaillet, Jean-Paul, and Elizabeth Vincent, Francis Ford Coppola, Paris, 1984.

Downing, David, Marlon Brando, London, 1984.

Zuker, Joel S., Francis Ford Coppola: A Guide to References andResources, Boston, 1984.

Carey, Gary, Marlon Brando, The Only Contender, London, 1985.

Frundt, Bodo, and others, Francis Ford Coppola, Munich, 1985.

Ray, Robert B., A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema1930–80, Princeton, 1985.

Slawson, Judith, Robert Duvall, Hollywood Maverick, New York, 1985.

Weiss, Ulli, Das neue Hollywood: Francis Ford Coppola, StevenSpielberg, Martin Scorsese, Munich, 1986.

Chown, Jeffrey, Hollywood Auteur: Francis Coppola, New York, 1987.

Higham, Charles, Brando: The Unauthorized Biography, London, 1987.

Cowie, Peter, Coppola, London, 1989.

Biskind, Peter, The Godfather Companion: Everything You EverWanted to Know about All Three Godfather Films, New York, 1990.

Gardner, Gerald C. and Harriet Modell Gardner, The GodfatherMovies: A Pictorial History, New York, 1993.

Lebo, Harlan, The Godfather Legacy, New York, 1997.

Bergan, Ronald, Francis Ford Coppola-Close Up: The Making of HisMovies, New York, 1998.

Ciongoli, A. Kenneth, editor, Beyond 'The Godfather': Italian American Writers on the Real Italian Experience, Hanover, 1998.

Browne, Nick, editor, Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Godfather'Trilogy, New York, 1999.

Cowie, Peter, The Godfather Book, Boulder, 1999.


Kane, John, and Bruce Rubenstein, in Take One (Montreal), March-April 1971.

Arnold, Gary, in Filmfacts (New York), no. 15, 1972.

Berglund, P., in Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 116, 1972.

Rosengren, G., "Två filmer om Maffian," in Filmrutan (Stockholm), vol. 15, no. 3, 1972.

Reilly, C. P., in Films in Review (New York), April 1972.

Faltysova, H., in Film a Doba (Prague), May 1972.

Kane, John, and Bruce Rubenstein, in Take One (Montreal), June 1972.

Chappetta, R., in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Summer 1972.

Cowie, Peter, in Focus on Film (London), Autumn 1972.

Farber, Stephen, "Coppola and The Godfather," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1972.

Schober, S., in Filmkritik (Munich), October 1972.

Amiel, M., in Cinéma (Paris), November 1972.

Kael, Pauline, "Alchemy," in Deeper into Movies, Boston, 1973.

"How Brando Brought Don Corleone to Life," and "Keeping Up with the Corleones," in Films 72–73, edited by David Denby, Indianapolis, 1973.

Vitoux, F., "Une Gigantesque Metaphore," in Positif (Paris), January 1973.

Latimer, J. P., "The Godfather: Metaphor and Microcosm," in Journal of Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), Spring 1973.

Vogelsan, J., "Motifs of Image and Sound in The Godfather," in Journal of Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), Spring 1973.

Higham, Charles, in Action (Los Angeles), May-June 1973.

"Francis Ford Coppola," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1974.

Kauffmann, Stanley, Living Images, New York, 1975.

Yates, John, "Godfather Saga: The Death of the Family," in Journalof Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), no. 4, 1975.

Solomon, Stanley, "The Godfather," in Beyond Formula, New York, 1976.

Clarens, Carlos, "The Godfather Saga," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1978.

Thomson, David, "The Discreet Charm of The Godfather," in Sightand Sound (London), Spring 1978.

Thomson, David, "Two Gentlemen of Corleone," in Take One (Montreal), May 1978.

"Dialogue on Film: Mario Puzo," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), May 1979.

Cebe, G., "Francis Ford Coppola: La Mafia, l'orare, et l'Amérique," in Ecran (Paris), 15 September 1979.

Taubman, Leslie, in Magill's Survey of Cinema 2, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1980.

Wisinger, I., "Amerikai törtenet," in Filmkultura (Budapest), May-June 1982.

Greene, N., "Coppola, Cimino: The Operatics of History," in FilmQuarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1984–85.

Ciment, Michel, in Positif (Paris), February 1985.

Alexander, M., and H. Homsan, "The Godfather-saga op tv," in Skoop (Amsterdam), June-July 1985.

Film Comment (New York), July-August 1987.

Hirsch, T., "San Francisco szultanja," in Filmvilag (Budapest), no. 1, 1991.

Alm, R., "Michael Corleones tapte illusjoner," in Z Filmtidsskrift (Oslo), no. 2, 1991.

Nordstrom, U., "Sag du gudfadern eller gudfadern—eller var det gudfadern?," in Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 5, 1991.

Caron, A., "Le tryptique des Godfather," in Sequences (Montreal), March 1991.

Ciment, M., "Lear et l'opera: entretien avec Francis Ford Coppola," in Positif (Paris), April 1991.

Grob, N., "The Empire Strikes Back," in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1991.

Morgan, D., "Death and Aging: A Corleone Chronicle," in Cinefex (Riverside, California), May 1991.

Tsyrkun, N., "Sud'ba Korleone v Amerike," in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 3, 1992.

Russo, J. P., "Tra i tre Padrini quale il migliore?," in Cinema Nuovo (Rome), May-June 1992.

Solman, G., "Uncertain Glory," in Film Comment (New York), May-June 1993.

Thomson, David, "Death and its Details," in Film Comment (New York), September-October 1993.

Steele, G., "On Location with The Godfather," in Mensuel duCinéma, no. 16, April 1994.

Rose, P. W., "The Politics of the Trilogy Form: Lucia, the Orestia, and The Godfather," in Film-Historia (Barcelona), vol. 5, no. 2/3, 1995.

"I Film (1963–1979)," in Castoro Cinema (Milan), no. 81, 2nd ed., July 1995.

"The Godfather," in Premiere (Boulder), vol. 9, March 1996.

Dargis, M., "Dark Side of the Dream," in Sight & Sound (London), vol. 6, August 1996.

Perez, G., "Film in Review," in Yale Review, vol. 85, no. 3, 1996.

Sragow, M., "Godfatherhood," in New Yorker, vol. 73, 24 March 1997.

Thomson, D., "Ten Films That Showed Hollywood How to Live," in Movieline (Escondido), vol. 8, July 1997.


USA, 1974

Production: Paramount Pictures; Technicolor, 35mm; running time: 200 minutes. Released 12 December 1974, New York. Filmed in 9 months, 1973–74, on location in New York City, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas, Nevada, Washington, Sicily, and the Dominican Republic. Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (De Niro), Best Screenplay, Best Art Decoration, Best Original Dramatic Score, 1974; Directors Guild of America, Director Award (Coppola), 1974.

Producers: Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Frederickson, and Fred Roos; screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, from the novel by Mario Puzo; photography: Gordon Willis; editors: Peter Zinner, Barry Malkin, and Richard Marks; production designer: Dean Tavoularis; art director: Angelo Graham; music: Nino Rota; additional music: Carmine Coppola; costume designer: Theodora Van Runkle.

Cast: Al Pacino (Michael Corleone); Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen); Diane Keaton (Kay Adams); Robert DeNiro (Vito Corleone); John Cazale (Fredo Corleone); Talia Shire (Connie Corleone); Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth); Michael V. Gazzo (Frankie Pentangeli); Troy Donahue (Connie's boyfriend).



Bachmann, Gideon, "Godfather II: Zelfkritiek van Coppola," in Skoop (Amsterdam), December 1974.

Cocks, T., "Outs," in Take One (Montreal), December 1974.

Time (New York), 16 December 1974.

Kael, Pauline, in New Yorker, 23 December 1974.

Quart, L., and A. Auster, in Cineaste (New York), vol. 6, no. 4, 1975.

Reilly, C. P., in Films in Review (New York), February 1975.

Hess, John, "Godfather II: A Deal Coppola Couldn't Refuse," in Jump Cut (Chicago), May-July 1975.

Milne, Tom, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), June 1975.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1975.

Gow, Gordon, in Films and Filming (London), July 1975.

Behar, H., in Image et Son (Paris), September 1975.

Rabourdin, D., in Cinéma (Paris), September-October 1975.

Calum, P., in Kosmorama (Copenhagen), Autumn 1975.

Farber, Stephen, in Take One (Montreal), December 1975.

Konjar, V., in Ekran (Ljubljana), no. 1, 1976.

Allombert, G., in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), October 1976.

Bueren, P., and W. Verstappen, in Skoop (Amsterdam), January 1977.

Rule, P., "The Italian Connection in American Film: Coppola, Cimino, Scorsese," in America (New York), 17 November 1979.

Taubman, Leslie, in Magill's Survey of Cinema 2, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1980.

Review, in Casablanca, no. 34, October 1983.

See also publications for The Godfather.


USA, 1990

Production: Zoetrope, Paramount Pictures; Technicolor, 35mm; running time: 161 minutes.

Producers: Francis Ford Coppola, Gray Frederickson, Fred Roos, and Charles Mulvehill; screenplay: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, from the novel by Puzo; photography: Gordon Willis; editors: Barry Malkin, Lisa Fruchtman, and Walter Murch; production designer: Dean Tavoularis; art director: Alex Tavoularis; music: Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola; music director: Carmine Coppola; costume designer: Milena Canonero.

Cast: Al Pacino (Michael Corleone); Diane Keaton (Kay Adams); Talia Shire (Connie Corleone); Andy Garcia (Vincent Mancini); Eli Wallach (Don Altobello); Joe Mantegna (Joey Zasa); George Hamilton (B. J. Harrison); Bridget Fonda (Grace Hamilton); Sofia Coppola (Mary Corleone); Raf Vallone (Cardinal Lamberto); Franc D'Ambrosio (Tony Corleone); Donal Donnelly (Archbishop Gilday); Richard Bright (Al Neri); Helmut Berger (Frederick Keinszig); Don Novello (Dominic Abbandando); John Savage (Andrew Hagen).



Cowie, P., "Coppola Remarried to the Mob," in Variety (New York), 3 January 1990.

Kroll, J., "The Offer He Didn't Refuse," in Newsweek (New York), 28 May 1990.

Moss, M., "The Godfather Part III: Recapturing the Myth," in Boxoffice (Chicago), October 1990.

Harrison, Barbara Grizzuti, in Life Magazine (New York), November 1990.

Coppola, Eleanor, "The Godfather Diary," in Vogue (New York), December 1990.

Davis, Ivor, and Sally Ogle Davis, "It Ain't Over till the Fat Man Directs: Francis Ford Coppola and the Making of The GodfatherPart III," in Los Angeles Magazine, December 1990.

Garcia, G., "The Next Don?" in American Film (Washington, DC), December 1990.

Rohter, L., "Coppola: It Was an Offer He Couldn't Refuse," in NewYork Times, 23 December 1990.

Kroll, J., "The Corleones Return," in Newsweek (New York), 24 December 1990.

Cowie, P., "Gudfader med starka familjeband," in Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 1, 1991.

Stivers, C., "Family Reunion," in Premiere (New York), January 1991.

Nissen, D., "Mafia," in Kosmorama (Copenhagen), Spring 1991.

Hansen, H. J., "Papa Coppola," in Levende Billeder (Copenhagen), March 1991.

Clark, J., "Godfather Shoots Blanks at Palermo Premiere," in Variety (New York), 18 March 1991.

Grant, E., in Films in Review (New York), March-April 1991.

Grob, N., "The Empire Strikes Back," in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1991.

Katsahnias, I., and N. Saada, "Entretien avec Francis Ford Coppola," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1991.

Causo, M., "La catarsi del cronotopo," in Filmcritica (Rome), April-May 1991.

"Il cinema di Coppola (parte III)," in Castoro Cinema (Milan), no. 81, 2nd ed., July 1995.

See also publications for The Godfather.

* * *

Mario Puzo has said that one of the reasons he wrote his novel, The Godfather, was to get out of debt. He was aiming for a best-seller, and he achieved his goal. Published in 1969, the novel sold 500,000 copies in hardcover and more than ten million copies in paperback by the time the film version was released.

Paramount Studios bought the film rights to Puzo's sprawling roman à clef, which concerned the history and structure of organized crime in America, in manuscript form. The studio proposed to make the film modestly and update it to the present day to avoid costly period sets and costumes. But when the book became a runaway bestseller, it was decided to make The Godfather an "event movie" with widespread release and higher-than-usual ticket prices. At the insistence of producer Al Ruddy and director Francis Ford Coppola, who got the assignment because of his Italian background and low asking price, the studio was also persuaded to return the script to its period milieu (the late 1940s).

With The Godfather, Coppola took a tired cinematic genre, the gangster film, in which all had seemingly been done, and pushed it in an epic new direction. Brutal, bloody, shocking, scary, funny, socially and politically observant, and meticulously performed by everyone from the leads to the bit players, the film offered a panoramic glimpse into the closed society of organized crime—a society ruled by vendetta, where the most sought-after currency, respect, is acquired through fear and intimidation. It's a society where murder is "nothing personal, just business" and casts a shadow over many other levels of American life, as well. Not for nothing has the film been dubbed "the Gone with the Wind of gangster movies."

The film was a financial blockbuster. Paramount demanded a sequel, and Coppola demanded and got complete creative autonomy for The Godfather, Part II. The main criticism leveled at The Godfather was that Coppola had made his Mafia characters sympathetic by giving them too-human a face. Coppola's point about the banality of evil, that members of the underworld are not all eye-rolling, saliva-dripping goons, was apparently lost on them. Still, he took the criticism to heart and in the sequel determined to make the point that Michael Corleone, an antihero who kills to hold his family together through the Mafia wars of the 1940s in the first film, is a Machiavellian figure whose soul is clearly lost by the final reel of the second film.

Coppola saw the sequel not as a way of simply cashing in on the success of the first film but of expanding its elements into a much broader and richer tapestry. The film chronicles the business of organized crime in the United States from 1900 to the 1960s, weaving facts with fiction in the manner of its predecessor. Drawing upon previously unused material in Puzo's book, it flashes back and forth in time to contrast the characters of Michael Corleone and his father, Vito, to reveal that what drives Michael is not what drove his father— that Michael is a more bitter and ruthless character, whereas Vito was a product of his old country ways and viewed the world as a place where only the strong survive.

The Godfather, Part II was a rarity—a sequel that not only deepened our understanding of the first film but bettered it artistically. It was also a huge financial success, but, at twice the budget of its predecessor, not quite the blockbuster the original had been. But since the film ended in the 1960s with Michael Corleone very much alive, Paramount was savvy enough to realize the mine had not yet been fully exploited. It wanted another sequel. Coppola wasn't interested, however, and shelved the idea for almost twenty years.

The Godfather, Part III takes up the saga of Michael Corleone in 1979, as the now guilt-ridden sixty-year-old don is receiving the order of San Sebastian, the highest honor the Catholic Church can bestow upon a layman. In between coping with Mafia plotters, crooked Vatican officials, and cutthroat European businessmen, Michael faces trouble on the homefront, as well. His son has rejected the family business to become an opera singer, while his daughter is carrying on a tempestuous affair with her first cousin (the illegitimate son of Michael's dead brother, Sonny). All these intrigues come to a head during the film's vigorous final thirty minutes, when Michael bloodily settles many scores—this time, he hopes, for good. But his beloved daughter takes an assassin's bullet meant for him and the aging gangster collapses with grief, his daughter and dreams of redemption gone. He dies of a heart attack years later, a white-haired Lear-like figure, alone in his palazzo.

The Godfather, Part III is not without its virtues. Its rich, warm photography, sumptuous production design and operatic style are all remarkably consistent with the first two films in the series. But its flaws are not insignificant. Considering its whopping $55 million budget (more than four times that of Part II), its failure to provide a conclusion to the Corleone saga in keeping with the epic vision of the first two films is a big disappointment. Coppola intended the film to be contemplative, but the effect it produces is ennui. Compared to the first two films, Part III is dull—and its similarly intricate plot is not as gripping as those of the earlier films. In fact, it is downright hard to follow at times.

But the film's biggest flaw is the change undergone by the lead characters, especially Michael, who is simply not the same man we saw at the close of The Godfather, Part II—a fact that becomes strikingly apparent if the two films are viewed consecutively. Monsters may get old and tired, but the outlook that made them monsters does not vanish. Guilt and the need for redemption are simply not a part of the emotionally dead, cold-eyed character Michael had become at the close of The Godfather, Part II.

—John McCarty