The Godfather

The Godfather ★★★★★

100 (50th Anniversary 4k Restoration watched @AMC West Palm Beach 12’s Dolby Cinema)

I love Goodfellas just as much as everyone else. But this will forever be the greatest mob film. Every inch of minute details circles back in the end. Each seemingly minor character plays an important role in the grand scheme of things. There’s an indescribably intelligent choice to exclusively show mob on mob violence, allowing for us to actually care for these awful humans. The pathos brought into the two leading men through Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Towne and Mario Puza’s masterclass screenplay is possibly unmatched in cinema history. What other film has ever reached this level of emotional resonance with full fledged criminals? There will always be more filmmaking masterpieces that I need to experience. But I’m almost certain that the writing of The Godfather will always remain in my mind as one of the single greatest screenplays of all time. 

There’s not much else to add that obviously hasn’t already been said. So, I would instead like to take a moment to commemorate John Cazale’s incredibly understated and under appreciated performance as Michael’s older brother, Fredo. Cazale’s lineup of five films that he starred in before passing away due to cancer is probably the most consistently exceptional film lineup of any actor in history. All five were nominated for best picture (The Godfather Part I and II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter). Fredo seems like a merely silly character on the surface but is actually one of the most tragic and profound characters in the entire trilogy. Cazale was a character actor in the truest sense, having a magnificent ability to portray disrespected/ weaker characters. He imbues the constantly neglected Fredo with so many immensely lovable qualities. This makes it all the more devastating when we are exposed to how weak spirited and timid he proves to be (in Las Vegas in this installment). Cazale’s awkward posture, mannerisms and delivery of insecure dialogue is something that has always stuck with me. And his role in The Godfather Part II only further expands upon the tragic nature of the character. Listening to interviews with Al Pacino speaking so passionately about Cazale’s character makes it all the more sad that he passed away so young. Rest in peace to a legend. 

Best Picture Winners Ranked

The Godfather Trilogy Ranked

Francis Ford Coppola Films Ranked

Al Pacino Films Ranked

James Caan Films Ranked

Talia Shire Films Ranked

1972 Films Ranked

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