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The Godfather

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

Peerless gangster saga, both about the American Dream and the American Nightmare, is masterfully crafted and acted by a cast which seems to fully inhabit each and every character, so much so that the viewer believes they know them all well. All the scenes flow smoothly from one highlight to the next. The Godfather is generally considered one of the best post-classic Hollywood movies with old-fashioned storytelling magic. The only thing I can think of as being "unusual" about the storytelling is the way it starts at the wedding, but even that turns out to be awesome since it's the film's longest set piece.

Unlike many others here, this is my easy pick for Coppola's best film. It's a totally stand alone, audacious, suspenseful tale of the Mob (or Family), told in a traditional story arc. The beginning, middle and end are perfect. The acting is uniformly terrific, and the cast is easily the greatest of The Godfather movies. I have come to appreciate how superb Part II is, when blended with the original, but it took me a while to accept it as almost as great. Maybe this film is a tad more melodramatic than the second one, but even though Brando should have won Best Supporting Actor here (well, maybe not, Joel Grey, anyone?) and Pacino should have been nominated Best Actor (vice versa of the way they actually were), Brando dominates this film in his few scenes. It's just that the film is so rich in all its characters that distinctions among importance are irrelevant. After all, like I said before, the entire cast is pretty damn impressive, so I'll shut up before I have to name them all. Just don't forget to leave the gun and take the cannoli.