The Godfather

Critics Consensus

One of Hollywood's greatest critical and commercial successes, The Godfather gets everything right; not only did the movie transcend expectations, it established new benchmarks for American cinema.



Total Count: 90


Audience Score

User Ratings: 732,689
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Movie Info

Popularly viewed as one of the best American films ever made, the multi-generational crime saga The Godfather is a touchstone of cinema: one of the most widely imitated, quoted, and lampooned movies of all time. Marlon Brando and Al Pacino star as Vito Corleone and his youngest son, Michael, respectively. It is the late 1940s in New York and Corleone is, in the parlance of organized crime, a "godfather" or "don," the head of a Mafia family. Michael, a free thinker who defied his father by enlisting in the Marines to fight in World War II, has returned a captain and a war hero. Having long ago rejected the family business, Michael shows up at the wedding of his sister, Connie (Talia Shire), with his non-Italian girlfriend, Kay (Diane Keaton), who learns for the first time about the family "business." A few months later at Christmas time, the don barely survives being shot by gunmen in the employ of a drug-trafficking rival whose request for aid from the Corleones' political connections was rejected. After saving his father from a second assassination attempt, Michael persuades his hotheaded eldest brother, Sonny (James Caan), and family advisors Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) and Sal Tessio (Abe Vigoda) that he should be the one to exact revenge on the men responsible. After murdering a corrupt police captain and the drug trafficker, Michael hides out in Sicily while a gang war erupts at home. Falling in love with a local girl, Michael marries her, but she is later slain by Corleone enemies in an attempt on Michael's life. Sonny is also butchered, having been betrayed by Connie's husband. As Michael returns home and convinces Kay to marry him, his father recovers and makes peace with his rivals, realizing that another powerful don was pulling the strings behind the narcotics endeavor that began the gang warfare. Once Michael has been groomed as the new don, he leads the family to a new era of prosperity, then launches a campaign of murderous revenge against those who once tried to wipe out the Corleones, consolidating his family's power and completing his own moral downfall. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning for Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando), and Best Adapted Screenplay, The Godfather was followed by a pair of sequels. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Marlon Brando
as Don Vito Corleone
Al Pacino
as Michael Corleone
James Caan
as Sonny Corleone
Robert Duvall
as Tom Hagen
Sterling Hayden
as McCluskey
John Marley
as Jack Woltz
Diane Keaton
as Kay Adams
Al Lettieri
as Sollozzo
Abe Vigoda
as Tessio
Talia Shire
as Connie Rizzi
Gianni Russo
as Carlo Rizzi
John Cazale
as Fredo Corleone
Rudy Bond
as Cuneo
Al Martino
as Johnny Fontane
Morgana King
as Mama Corleone
Lenny Montana
as Luca Brasi
Alex Rocco
as Moe Greene
Tony Giorgio
as Bruno Tattaglia
Vito Scotti
as Nazorine
Tere Livrano
as Theresa Hagen
Victor Rendina
as Phillip Tattaglia
Jeannie Linero
as Lucy Mancini
Julie Gregg
as Sandra Corleone
Ardell Sheridan
as Mrs. Clemenza
Corrado Gaipa
as Don Tommasino
Saro Urzì
as Vitelli
John Martino
as Paulie Gatto
Carmine Coppola
as Piano Player (uncredited)
Sofia Coppola
as Baby (uncredited)
Joe Spinell
as Willy Cicci (uncredited)
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News & Interviews for The Godfather

Critic Reviews for The Godfather

All Critics (90) | Top Critics (25)

  • If ever there was a great example of how the best popular movies come out of a merger of commerce and art, "The Godfather" is it.

    Apr 15, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Casting in these roles has been exceptional, particularly with Ai Pacino, a relative new comer as Michael. James Caan, too, deserves special mention, tor his role as Sonny... But the prime extra ingredient of the film is Brando.

    Feb 6, 2019 | Full Review…
  • This is a curious film. One comes to understand, even to condone, the activities of the Godfather and his clan.

    Mar 15, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Brando is the strong magnet that will draw fans to The Godfather. But behind-the-scenes creativity is of equal value to this film of towering proportions.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • I don't see how any gifted actor could have done less than Brando does here. His resident power, his sheer innate force, has rarely seemed weaker.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Full Review…
  • The Godfather is overflowing with life, rich with all the grand emotions and vital juices of existence, up to and including blood.

    Feb 26, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Godfather

  • Apr 01, 2016
    I was roughly twenty years away from even being conceived when The Godfather came out. Growing up as a film nut, I often heard of The Godfather as possessing a sort of mythic status which few films made after 1955 possess. I first watched it back close to ten years ago as a 12 year old, never fully getting the story with the film falling into the "great film that I didn't appreciate" category until a month or so back when I got the Coppola restoration Blu-Ray and realized as an adult how fantastic of a film it truly was. The Godfather works so well because it isn't a film that kisses it's own ass on a variety of sub-levels. Francis Ford Coppola went out of his way not to make the film one that glorifies the Mafia in anyway, but still realized what a magnificent project it was. It begins in celebration and ends as the first part of the trilogy in bitter-sweet victory and tragedy for the Corleones with Michael having slowly morphed into a totally different character by the end and the Corleone family itself having endured tragedy after tragedy. Depending on if you're selective to certain genres of movies -- particularly crime and heist thrillers -- the 1970s were either a fantastic time with the New Hollywood group of directors, or a pitiful time where the Anti-Hero was all the rage. I've always tried to keep a foot in both camps for the most part, but if a film like this doesn't make you at least sit there as the credits role, musing in thought like Indiana Jones after being given a clue by a recently-killed shaman or anti-Nazi spy the first time you watch it, then I'm not sure you really know how to appreciate films and movies as art and not just entertainment. There's so many ways this film just works so well; the first is that Coppola always had a way of making the cinematography and direction style look both extravagant, but also bleak at the same time, partially through sun-faded cinematography (I'm just guessing) and also partially through the way the film itself was shot. As well as the fact that Coppola spared nothing when it came to deploying talented screen stars of the day to cast The Godfather, leading Marlon Brando to find international success once more with his portrayal of Vito Corleone, Al Pacino as the reluctant, but eventual successor to his father Vito, Michael Corleone, Diane Keaton as Kay Adams, Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, and of course, a pre-Rocky Talia Shire as Connie Corleone. These cast members in particular stand out in their performances and convey a sort of detached emotion which makes the film so great (if you need clarification on this, the scene where Vito overlooks his own son's body in the morgue is a prime example). Although it is by far the best instalment in the Godfather trilogy, the film itself does suffer from a few key points which I've never been able to reason out why they were included. Specifically the whole sequence involving Johnny Fontaine and the Woltz horse fiasco which has no real involvement in the over-arcing storyline. However with how spectacular of a film it is overall, I'm not going to sit here and bitch about it any further.
    Kal X. A Super Reviewer
  • Mar 27, 2016
    From it's stellar opening wedding scene to it's bittersweet conclusion, The Godfather is a groundbreaking and brilliantly made film that deals with themes of power, corruption and family with subtly and finesse. Easily one of the greatest movies ever made.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 08, 2016
    One of the best films of all time, an absolute masterpiece. The Godfather is arguably the best gangster drama as well as setting the standard for cinema.
    Mr N Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2015
    Spectacular. Every time I see it, it gets better. From its flawless direction, to its exceptional score, to its (near-)flawless script, I have no doubt "The Godfather" is one of the best movies ever made.
    Christian C Super Reviewer

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