The Godfather 50 Years

I wonder what the iconic American drama was before The Godfather. What was that groundbreaking hit that provoked average moviegoers to revisit it multiple times, quote it constantly, and then teach their grandchildren to do the same?

I believe my grandma would say Casablanca. Typical published movie critics would point to Citizen Kane, and optimists might cheer for It’s a Wonderful Life.

Maybe it’s the darker mafioso component that puts The Godfather on top of the universal list. There is an allure there. Somehow, even a steady moral compass can get swept up by an Italian crime family’s appeal. The Italian is in the delicious food they cook and rich respect obtained by their culture between Sicily and New York City. The family bond is upheld in the highest regard (“We don’t discuss business at the table.”) But, that crime part settles underneath in hushed conversation and occasional bloodshed. It can be ignored or accepted through a rose-colored lens.

It is all an idealized perspective of reality.

It is all so romantic.

My memories of first watching The Godfather involve my dad’s homemade spaghetti and sausage dinners in front of the screen. We cherished the scene when Clemenza teaches Michael how to cook for a large group of mob soldiers and made-men at the table. I remember my dad loving the scene when the Corleone family discusses the restaurant where Michael is to make his first hit. “Yeah, try the veal. It’s the best in the city.” Or, the scene at the end when everyone knows that Tessio is the traitor, and my dad laughed at how cold the reaction is when Tessio knows he’s screwed.

Tessio: Can you get me off the hook, Tom? For old times’ sake?

Tom: Can’t do it, Sally.

After seeing The Godfather as a teenager and in college, I jumped at the chance to experience it on the big screen (no more double VHS cassettes and putting in the second tape right after Sonny gets violently executed). The 50th anniversary edition of The Godfather was showing at the local AMC theatre, and I wanted to see if this epic movie drama icon still held up.

It did in spades both nostalgically and through my older, seasoned adult eyes. There is no doubt The Godfather is the greatest American drama ever made in all my movie loving encounters. The only contender would be Part II, and I can’t wait until AMC launches that one on its 50th anniversary.

Nino Rota’s poignant trumpet motif haunts you on your drive back home. Al Pacino’s mental and physical transformation as the new Don Corleone is stunning. And, Marlon Brando’s performance is a marvel that continues to be replicated in pop culture.

In the 70s when it came out, the 80s when I first saw it, and up to today, The Godfather is still an icon in filmmaking, music, editing, acting, writing, and pure drama.

In your opinion, what is the greatest American drama ever made? Please share your thoughts!

Happy Moviegoing,

Reely Bernie

34 thoughts on “The Godfather 50 Years

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  1. “homemade spaghetti and sausage dinners in front of the screen”…you can’t get any more Godfather-y than that! Except with a cannoli on the side.
    My favorite dramas?
    Citizen Kane, A Clockwork Orange, Godfather, Goodfellas, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and 12 Angry Men… no particular order…I was going to give you five…but I threw in one for free lol.


  2. Wonderful article as always. We are going to see to this on the big screen as it’s out here now and I have seen it probably 5 times on the smaller screen.
    Reely, I’m relieved to report I finally saw ‘Dune’ with the family last night on the big screen because there is an Academy Awards release now showing all the movies nominated here in Colombia. It’s a heavy movie and I would like to read the book after seeing it to get a better understanding.
    I think it’s good stuff and you mentioned to me it brought you back to the original Star Wars movies. I wouldn’t go that far because it was so serious, dark and colluded, but I’m looking forward to the next installments to learn more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To see it on the big screen brought me tears of joy. I was just floored by how much it moved me (now my sixth viewing).

      Regarding Dune, way to go! That is a sensory experience for sure, but I was surprised by how close I got to the characters. Nothing will trump Star Wars, but I was reminded of that lightweight feeling in my belly when adventure, dread, and sound all combined to suck me right in. That was Dune for me. I felt like a kid again.


    1. Dang, those are all masterpieces, and you scale all the decades very well. The Miracle Worker is the only one I haven’t seen. I’m adding it to my Watchlist. Thank you for your contributions and for reading. Great stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant stuff, mate. Of course I’m going to my local cinema tomorrow for the anniversary – never seen it on the big screen before, so I can’t wait. The romance is seductive, and your point on food is dead-on; it’s the simple things that place The Godfather is another stratosphere. Part II and Apocalypse Now are probably the only two that compete for me, which says a lot about Coppola…


  4. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is up there for me.

    And check it out…

    In celebration of The Godfather’s 50th anniversary, Paramount released the Francis Ford Coppola classic in limited theatres last Friday. Paramount and Coppola’s production company spent the last three years restoring all three Godfather films in anticipation of the anniversary, which first debuted on March 24, 1972. During the restoration process, over 300 cartons of film were scrutinized to find the best possible resolution for each frame of all three movies. More than 4,000 hours were spent repairing film stains and other anomalies in the negatives, while over 1,000 hours were spent on color correction to restore the films to Coppola’s original vision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s incredible. I was also impressed by the Dolby addition, especially for the music. Visually, I never knew Al Pacino had the cheek scar the whole time he was in Sicily because the VHS versions I saw were so grainy. It was an extraordinary experience for me in the theatre. Tears.


  5. Am seeing it tomorrow on the big screen. When I lived in London from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s a city centre cinema The Regent used to pair Part I and II for a regular Sunday fest which I attended several times.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You ask a very interesting question about the iconic predecessor. It wouldn’t have been Citizen Kane except among cineastes. You are probably right about Casablanca. It’s a Wonderful Life didn’t start to make impact until the mid-1970s when it fell out of copyright and anybody could show it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was really thinking of a movie that last 20 or 30 years like The Godfather. I would guess it would have to be Gone with the Wind in part because it was so regularly available – twice reissued in the 1960s, the last time in 70mm.

        Liked by 1 person

            1. Good point. When the AFI came out with their Top 100 and then Top Ten Lists flooded pop culture at the dawn of the 21st century, several “classics” flip flopped on the podium. You know a lot about what movies were actually released in theatres to widespread audiences, and that has a lot to do with “iconic.” It seems like The Godfather had everything going for it regarding not just its seamless execution as a film but marketing, exposure, and more theatres open simply because it was 1972.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. You are right that by the 1970s more people experienced a movie at the same time so that gave a boost to the iconic. I’m never sure how films edge their way up the cult tree but certainly new generations play their part. But something like Shawshank was a flop in the cinema and found its iconic status thanks to video.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with you 100 percent. I love the film. Seeing it on the big screen was amazing. I saw it there on the 30th anniversary.

    I recently blogged about the film as part of a blogathon and our thoughts are similar…. Michael’s transformation….the best in cinema!!!

    Enjoyed your thoughts!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I plan on doing the same! It (and Part 2) is a masterpiece.

        Check out the book “Take The Gun, Leave the Cannoli” … It’s fantastic. I knew there was trouble as the film was being made, but didn’t know the extent of it. It’s surprising that it ever made it to the screen.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooo! I need a new book rec! Thank you for this. I’ll definitely check it out. I remember researching the “truth” behind the story as a high schooler and discovering the connections between the Corleone family and the real Gambino family (oh, and Frank Sinatra!)


    1. Keith I was going to tell you about this post lol…I should have known you can sniff out a Godfather post anywhere.


          1. Max, you da man. Keith knows his stuff too! So glad to be connected with you both. Nostalgia is what this has all been about for me. I enjoyed seeing The Godfather for the sixth time, yes. But, I enjoyed even more thinking about my dad and his spaghetti dinner when I saw it for the first time. We are German/Irish, but we wish we were Italian. This was another movie my dad let me see when my mom was out of town, visiting her sisters out east 🙂 Great to hear from you, Max!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh yea…Keith knows his business about movies. I think I told you but a couple of years ago I got to see the second one in a theater…which just changed it for me…for the better if that is possible.
              Yea when Jennifer wasn’t around I let Bailey watch some movies he shouldn’t have. He always wanted to watch one I would not let him see…A Clockwork Orange….when he turned 16….I thought he could handle it…. He loved it and he didn’ lose his mind…so I guess it worked.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Yeah, Bailey turned out just fine 🙂 “Clockwork.” Nice. At age 16, my dad conditioned me to The Road Warrior, Death Wish, anything Clint Eastwood, and both Godfathers, and I turned out just fine too. I probably won’t do the same with my daughter and wait a little longer, but if she shows any signs of interest, I’m the movie dad 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

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