Paramount Pictures, having previously made cinematic history with "Love Story," very easily will top that with the release of Mario Puzo's bestseller as adapted to the screen by Puzo and director Francis Ford Coppola. With advance guarantees equal to twice the cost of the film, the company made the unprecedented move of world premiering the Albert S. Ruddy production in five Manhattan theatres. Aside from being unquestionably a top grosser, the film gives Marlon Brando his best role in a decade. The Academy Award winner has had an unusually long string of indifferent films, that jinx being broken here. In concert with Brando's emoting, top honors go to a fine trio of young actors: Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, as well as to Richard Castellano as a comic killer. While there have been changes from the novel, the film is both compelling and powerful. The violence entirely merits an R, and more sensitive stomachs will take offense. Technicolor-filmed in and around New York City, "The Godfather" has faithfully captured the post-war era. Coppola has given great insight into the inner workings of the Mafia (here called the family or the syndicate) and the particular code of its members. "The Godfather" means business.
In 1945 New York, Talia Shire, the daughter of syndicate chieftain Marlon Brando marries Gianni Russo. During the ceremony, Brando tends to business which includes the future welfare of godson Al Martino, a singer. Brando's adopted son Robert Duvall, a lawyer, sees to it that movie producer John Marley cooperates. When Brando is wounded in a clash with rival "families," youngest son Al Pacino takes a hand. He kills rival Al Lettieri and crooked police Capt. Sterling Hayden, then hides in Sicily. After beating up Russo for abusing Shire, brother James Caan is murdered. Pacino's young wife Simonetta Stefanelli is also killed before the youngest son can return home. With Brando retired, Pacino takes over and sets up operations in Nevada. He marries old sweetheart Diane Keaton. Brando dies and Pacino orders all of his rivals, big boss Richard Conte included, to be assassinated during the christening of Shire's baby. Now the Godfather, Pacino settles matters with Russo by having loyal Richard Castellano kill him.
Tie in with the Mario Puzo novel, Fawcett Publications' paperback edition of the book, Paramount Records' soundtrack album and "The Godfather" theme on 45 rpm discs. Have a "films of Marlon Brando" contest.
"The Godfather" is now a movie... The most talked about movie of our time!
THE GODFATHER, PART II:
Even if the 1972 film "The Godfather" had not been made, its sequel would still be a monumental achievement. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, from a screenplay by Coppola and Mario Puzo as based on the latter's best seller, the '74 film uses many of the same actors in the roles they originated in 1972. Al Pacino, the youngest Corleone son, is now the Godfather and he is as ruthless here as he had been idealistic originally. Intercut with the Pacino story is that of his father's origins; lengthy flashbacks are used throughout, with Robert De Niro excelling as the young Don Vito. The entire cast contributes greatly to the success of the film, with Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton leading the veterans and new characters being played by Actors' Studio founder Lee Strasberg, author (of "A Hatful of Rain") Michael V. Gazzo and G.D. Spradlin as a corrupt senator. Locations include Sicily, New York, Miami, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and Santo Domingo (doubling for Havana). The Corleone saga is one of family devotion and violence, the latter ingredient being graphic enough but actually occupying little screen time. Another sequel may be unlikely, but this looms as a big b.o. bonanza. Technicolor, with English titles for the Italian dialogue.
The story of the Godfather, portrayed as a young man by Robert De Niro, begins in the Sicilian village of Corleone in 1901 when as a small boy he flees from Don Giuseppe Sillato, who murdered his family. His rise to power in New York, following his first murder -- that of Sillatto, is intercut with the story of De Niro's family beginning in 1958. Living in Lake Tahoe, Al Pacino controls his father's business, aided by lawyer Robert Duvall in dealing with corrupt Sen. G.D. Spradlin, Miami kingpin Lee Strasberg, longtime associate Michael V. Gazzo and the family. Sister Talia Shire weds Troy Donahue against Pacino's wishes, John Cazale unwittingly betrays his brother to Strasberg, and wife Diane Keaton destroys her marriage by admitting she had an abortion rather than raise another son in an atmosphere of crime. After a crime investigating committee fails to indict Pacino, he has Strasberg, Cazale and Gazzo, who was set to testify against him, eliminated.
Tie in with the soundtrack album, featuring Nino Rota's music, on ABC Records. Mention the various locales and the fact that every actor from the original film repeats his role or is replaced with a close facsimile.
The Godfather had one rule -- the family above everything else. Paramount 177 mins./Parapunt 200 mins.<