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Show Some Respect The Godfather turns 50

10 Mar 2022

The Godfather will be landing at New Park on 18 March to mark its 50th anniversary in a new 4K remaster. We will also be showing Part 2 as well as the latest version of the third act, The Godfather Coda.

Much has been made of its cultural influence on movies and TV series such as The Sopranos and Succession. It’s Boris Johnson’s favourite film. While clearly bearing some structural resemblance, Succession swerves away from any warmth. Something that is underappreciated in The Godfather is the tenderness radiating from Vito towards his sons. One cannot imagine Logan Roy being much moved by the death of his offspring. Vito’s grief over Sonny’s death is touching, his reaction to being told Michael has avenged him desperately saddening.

So many ingredients make up a classic film yet Marlon Brando simply dominates The Godfather. He’s not even in it that much. My favourite scene from the beginning of the film is of Brando behind his desk, a cat squirming with pleasure in his hands while he negotiates a favour, a gift, a revenge killing.

The Godfather is not my favourite film (it usually pops up around fifth when I’m compiling a top ten in my head). I prefer it to both sequels and have seen it over a dozen times but never at the cinema. I first saw it in its TV series guise when it was released as The Godfather Saga.

This version has never been released for home viewing, but it retains a fascination because it has been edited to play out in chronological order. Therefore, the film begins with the young Vito scenes from Godfather Part 2 moving on to The Godfather and finishing with Michael’s progression in Part 2 again. What you lose in the beautiful flashback rhythm of Part 2 you gain in the dozens of additional scenes totalling 75 minutes.

I am a nostalgist for this film. It came out the same year I was born. I first watched it on a 19-inch Hitachi in my bedroom. My mother went into labour in a cinema but cannot remember what she was watching. Was it The Godfather? I like to think so. Of course, it could have been Last Tango in Paris and that might explain the amnesia.

Richard Warburton