The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★½

Has there ever been a better run by an actor than Al Pacino’s right out of the gate streak from his first performance in Panic in Needle Park through Dog Day Afternoon? It really doesn’t seem like it. Before seeing the new Coppola cut of Part III (my first time seeing the third part in any capacity), I wanted to go back and revisit the first two Godfather films because I hadn’t seen them since my first viewing, some 13 years ago when I was 17 and remember walking down my driveway to put the Netflix DVDs in the mailbox at like 4am after watching them both.

My opinions on the second and third parts aren’t as high as others are on them, but watching the first again was a major reinforcement of what an absolute showstopper this movie is. The Godfather set the template for every mob story that would come after it. Everything can be traced back to this, and none of them were able to achieve it better than what Coppola and Puzo did here. The family dynamics are Shakespearean, the character drama of Michael’s reluctant ascendence is emotional and compelling, the themes of loyalty, toxic masculinity, ego, and greed are evergreen. This is a movie that holds up, and Coppola’s aesthetic is so damn iconic for a reason.

I remember watching A League of Their Own for the first time earlier this year and when the famous, “There’s no crying in baseball!”, line happened I was a little surprised at how that became one of the most iconic lines in cinema history because it didn’t make much of an impression on me while watching it. That happens a lot with some of these classics that are so ingrained in the public consciousness that watching them feels redundant, even disappointing. That’s not the case with The Godfather. Every line holds up, every legendary scene sells. And Pacino’s performance is one of the best there’s ever been.