The Godfather (Classic Film Pick)
The great Hollywood producer Robert Evans is said to have been responsible for bringing the hammer down on Francis Coppola to shape "The Godfather" into the 1972 film that won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. How much of Evans' genius went into the final cut is a moot mystery, because "The Godfather" stands as a masterpiece of American cinema that reflects the distinctive efforts of a particularly gifted ensemble of a cast, crew, and filmmaker. Mario Puzo's 1969 novel provided the ten-year narrative about the fictional Italian-American Corleone crime family overseen by its patriarch Don Vito Corleone (magnificently played by Marlon Brando in the last truly great performance of his career). Luchino Visconti's influence, vis a vis his 1963 film "The Leopard," is apparent in Coppola's staging of social scenes like the wedding that serves to introduce the audience to the insular world of the Corleone family. Vito's son Michael (Al Pacino) respects his family's values and rules of conduct but suffers from an inner conflict about his participation in the family's crime syndicate until an attack on his father's life brings his sense of responsibility into perspective. Ideals of tradition and familial loyalty ring through Nino Rota's score to ensconce the audience in an atmosphere of unconditional involvement. Like a favored method of Mafia influence, "The Godfather" is an offer no audience can refuse.