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The Godfather (film series)

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Title: The Godfather (film series)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Johnny Fontane, Paramount Pictures, The Godfather (novel), 2014 in film, Al Pacino
Collection: Film Series, Film Trilogies, Films About Dysfunctional Families, The Godfather Films
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The Godfather (film series)

The Godfather
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by Francis Ford Coppola (2–3)
Albert S. Ruddy (1)
Gray Frederickson (2)
Fred Roos (2)
Fred Fuchs (3)
Written by Mario Puzo
Francis Ford Coppola
Based on The Godfather 
by Mario Puzo
Starring Al Pacino
Diane Keaton
Robert Duvall (1–2)
John Cazale (1–2)
Talia Shire
Sterling Hayden (1)
Al Lettieri (1)
John Marley (1)
Marlon Brando (1)
James Caan (1)
Richard S. Castellano (1)
Simonetta Stefanelli (1)
Robert De Niro (2)
Morgana King (2)
Marianna Hill (2)
Lee Strasberg (2)
Michael V. Gazzo (2)
Andy García (3)
Sofia Coppola (3)
Eli Wallach (3)
George Hamilton (3)
Joe Mantegna (3)
Music by Nino Rota
Carmine Coppola
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Edited by Peter Zinner (1–2)
Barry Malkin (2–3)
William H. Reynolds (1)
Richard Marks (2)
Lisa Fruchtman (3)
Walter Murch (3)
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 15 March 1972 (1972-03-15)
  • (The Godfather)
  • 20 December 1974 (1974-12-20)
  • (The Godfather Part II)
  • 25 December 1990 (1990-12-25)
  • (The Godfather Part III)
Running time
549 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $73.5 million
Box office $574.8 million

The Godfather film series consists of three feature-length crime films directed by Francis Ford Coppola based upon the novel of the same name by Italian American author Mario Puzo. The films were released in 1972, 1974 and 1990. All three films were distributed by Paramount Pictures.

The three films follow the fictional Corleone Mafia family through the course of its history in the United States and their homeland Sicily. The early plot line begins with patriarch of the family Vito Corleone's (Marlon Brando) decline and exit from the family business and the passing over of the control to his youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) who then becomes the major focus of the films. After seizing control, Michael uproots the family from New York and moves out to Las Vegas where he gets involved in a business transaction in the unstable Cuba, which he manages to get out of. Years later, Michael has pulled out of the mafia world and attempts to buy a good reputation through various acts of charity.

The series achieved success at the box office, with the films earning over $550 million worldwide. The first two films have received wide acclaim since release; the former, The Godfather, is seen by many as one of the greatest films of all time. Its sequel, The Godfather Part II, is viewed by many as the best sequel in cinematic history. The series is heavily awarded, winning 9 out of 29 total Academy Award nominations.


  • Film series 1
    • The Godfather 1.1
    • The Godfather Part II 1.2
    • The Godfather Part III 1.3
    • Abandoned sequel 1.4
  • Compilations for video and television 2
  • Cast 3
  • Reception 4
    • Box office performance 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
    • Accolades 4.3
  • Video games 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8

Film series

The Godfather

The Godfather, the first film in the franchise, was released on March 15, 1972. The feature-length film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based upon Mario Puzo's novel of the same name. The plot begins with Don Vito Corleone declining an offer to join in the narcotics business with notorious drug lord Virgil Sollozzo, which leads to an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Vito's oldest son Sonny takes over the family and Michael strikes back for the assassination attempt by killing Sollozzo and a corrupted police captain, forcing Michael to go to Sicily in hiding. While in Sicily, Michael travels around the country and meets a young woman whom he marries, but who is eventually killed in a car bombing. Michael returns to America after the news of his brother Sonny's murder. After returning, Vito turns over the reins of the family to Michael. Michael plans to move the family business to Las Vegas; but before the move, he plots the killing of the heads of the five families on the day of his nephew's baptism. Other subplots include Vito's daughter's abusive marriage, Johnny Fontaine's success in Hollywood, and Vito's second oldest son Fredo's role in the family business in Las Vegas.

The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II, the second film in the franchise, was released on December 20, 1974. The feature-length film was again directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based upon Mario Puzo's novel of the same name. The film is in part both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, presenting two parallel dramas. The main storyline, following the first film's events, centers on Michael Corleone, the new Don of the Corleone crime family, trying to hold his business ventures together from 1958 to 1959; the other is a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone, from his childhood in Sicily in 1901 to his founding of the Corleone family in New York City.

The Godfather Part III

The Godfather Part III, the third film in the franchise, was released on December 25, 1990. Francis Ford Coppola reprises his role as director for the feature-length film, while also writing the screenplay with the help of the author Mario Puzo. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire. The film also weaves into its plot a fictionalized account of real-life events: the 1978 death of Pope John Paul I and the Papal banking scandal of 1981 and 1982, and links them with each other and with the affairs of Michael Corleone.

Abandoned sequel

Following the reaction from the third installment, Coppola stated that the idea of a The Godfather Part IV was discussed, but eventually never went into production as Mario Puzo died before they had a chance to write the film, stating he and Puzo discussed a potential script told in a similar narrative to Part II, seeing De Niro reprise his role as a younger Vito Corleone in the 1930s with a young Santino Corleone gaining the families political power, and a latter story featured during the 1980s seeing Andy Garcia reprise his role as Vincent Corleone haunted by the death of his cousin Mary, running the family business through a ten year destructive war eventually losing the families respect and power, seeing one final scene with Michael Corleone before his death.[1] Andy Garcia has since claimed the film's script was nearly produced.[1] Puzo's portion of the potential sequel, dealing with the Corleone family in the early 1930s, was eventually expanded into a novel by Ed Falco and released in 2012 as The Family Corleone.[2]

Compilations for video and television

In addition to the three films that were released to theaters, three compilations were created by Coppola and editors Barry Malkin and Walter Murch:

  • The Godfather Saga (1977) – a 7-hour television miniseries based on the first two films, and incorporating additional footage that was not included in the theatrical releases.
  • The Godfather 1902–1959: The Complete Epic (1981) – a version of The Godfather Saga that was released to video (VHS format).[3]
  • The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980 (1992) – a 10-hour compilation released directly to video (VHS and LaserDisc formats) in 1992 and 1997. It encompasses all three films, and again incorporates footage that was not included in the theatrical releases, more additional footage than either the Saga or Epic had previously included.


Character Film
The Godfather[4] The Godfather Part II[5] The Godfather Part III[6]
Michael Corleone Al Pacino
Vito Corleone Marlon Brando Robert De Niro[N 1]  
Tom Hagen Robert Duvall  
Sonny Corleone James Caan  
Peter Clemenza Richard S. Castellano Bruno Kirby[N 2]  
Captain McCluskey Sterling Hayden  
Jack Woltz John Marley  
Emilio Barzini Richard Conte  
Kay Adams-Corleone Diane Keaton
Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone Simonetta Stefanelli  
Virgil Sollozzo Al Lettieri  
Salvatore Tessio Abe Vigoda Abe Vigoda
John Aprea[N 3]
Connie Corleone Talia Shire
Carlo Rizzi Gianni Russo  
Fredo Corleone John Cazale John Cazale[N 4]
Carmine Cuneo Rudy Bond  
Johnny Fontane Al Martino   Al Martino
Calo Franco Citti   Franco Citti
Carmela Corleone Morgana King Morgana King
Francesca De Sapio[N 5]
Luca Brasi Lenny Montana  
Paulie Gatto Johnny Martino  
Amerigo Bonasera Salvatore Corsitto  
Al Neri Richard Bright
Moe Greene Alex Rocco  
Bruno Tattaglia Tony Giorgio  
Nazorine Vito Scotti  
Theresa Hagen Tere Livrano
Hyman Roth   Lee Strasberg  
Frank Pentangeli   Michael V. Gazzo  
Pat Geary   G. D. Spradlin  
Don Fanucci   Gastone Moschin  
Rocco Lampone Tom Rosqui  
Genco Abbandando   Frank Sivero  
Deanna Corleone   Marianna Hill  
Signor Roberto   Leopoldo Trieste  
Johnny Ola   Dominic Chianese  
Michael's bodyguard   Amerigo Tot  
Merle Johnson   Troy Donahue  
Vincent Mancini   Andy García
Don Altobello   Eli Wallach
Joey Zasa   Joe Mantegna
B. J. Harrison   George Hamilton
Grace Hamilton   Bridget Fonda
Mary Corleone   Sofia Coppola
Cardinal Lamberto   Raf Vallone
Anthony Corleone   Franc D'Ambrosio
Archbishop Gilday   Donal Donnelly
Frederick Keinszig   Helmut Berger
Dominic Abbandando   Don Novello
Andrew Hagen   John Savage
Mosca   Mario Donatone
Don Tommasino Corrado Gaipa Mario Cotone Vittorio Duse
Licio Lucchesi   Enzo Robutti
Spara   Michele Russo
Lou Pennino   Robert Cicchini
Armand   Rogerio Miranda
Francesco   Carlos Miranda


Box office performance

Film Release date Revenue Rank Budget Reference
North America Other territories Worldwide All time
North America
All time
The Godfather March 15, 1972 $134,966,411 $110,100,000 $245,066,411 #310
#398 $6,500,000 [7]
The Godfather Part II December 20, 1974 $57,300,000 $135,700,000 $193,000,000 #1,416 - $13,000,000 [8]
The Godfather Part III December 25, 1990 $66,666,062 $70,100,000 $136,766,062 #947 - $54,000,000 [9]
Total $258932473 $315900000 $574832473 - - $73,500,000 [10]
List indicator(s)
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the series received a positive 87% average rating from critics - 99%, 97%, and 67% respectively, making it one of the highest-rated film series of all-time, along with the Toy Story trilogy (in which the first two films earned a perfect 100%, and the third earned 99%), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (92%, 96%, and 94%), the Dollars trilogy (98%, 93%, 97%), The Dark Knight trilogy (85%, 94%, 88%), the original Star Wars trilogy (94%, 97%, and 79%), and the Spider-Man trilogy (89%, 94%, 63%). Metacritic, based on its ratings for each film (100%, 80%, 60%), lists the series as receiving "Generally Favorable Reviews" with its 80% average.

The series appears in many "Top 10" film lists, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association's Top 10 Films, IMDb top 250, Time magazine's All-Time 100 Movies, and James Berardinelli's Top 100.[11]
Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
The Godfather 99% (84 reviews)[12] 100 (14 reviews)[13]
The Godfather Part II 97% (72 reviews)[14] 80 (10 reviews)[15]
The Godfather Part III 67% (57 reviews)[16] 60 (19 reviews)[17]


The three films together were nominated for a total of 29 Academy Awards, of which they won 9. For the Best Supporting Actor award, both the The Godfather and The Godfather Part II had three actors nominated for the award, which is a rare feat. Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II won the award for Best Picture in their respective years. The Godfather Part II won the most Academy Awards with six to its credit. The Godfather Part III was nominated for seven Oscars, but failed to win any.

  • The Godfather — Nominations: 11, Wins: 3
  • The Godfather Part II — Nominations: 11, Wins: 6
  • The Godfather Part III — Nominations: 7, Wins: 0
The Godfather film series at the Academy Awards[18][19][20]
Award Awards won
The Godfather The Godfather Part II The Godfather Part III
Best Actor Won
(Marlon Brando)
(Al Pacino)
Best Art Direction Won Nominated
Best Cinematography Nominated
Costume Design Nominated
Best Director Nominated Won Nominated
Best Film Editing Nominated Nominated
Music (Best Original Score) Nominated Won
Music (Best Original Song) Nominated
("Promise Me You'll Remember")
Best Picture Won Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Nominated
(James Caan, Robert Duvall, Al Pacino)
(Robert De Niro)[N 6]
(Andy García)
Best Supporting Actress Nominated
(Talia Shire)
Best Adapted Screenplay Won

Video games

Three video games have been released to supplement the film series. The releases include: The Godfather, The Godfather: The Game, and The Godfather II.


  1. ^ The character Vito Corleone appears in The Godfather Part II as a younger version than in The Godfather and played by another actor, Robert De Niro.
  2. ^ The character Peter Clemenza appears in The Godfather Part II as a younger version than in The Godfather and played by another actor, Bruno Kirby.
  3. ^ The character Salvatore Tessio appears in The Godfather Part II as a younger version than in The Godfather and played by another actor, John Aprea. The original actor Abe Vigoda makes a cameo appearance at the end of The Godfather Part II.
  4. ^ The character Fredo Corleone played by John Cazale appears in The Godfather Part III during a brief flashblack. Archive footage from The Godfather Part II is used.
  5. ^ The character Francesca De Sapio.
  6. ^ The Godfather Part II had three of its actors nominated for the award of Best Supporting Actor at the 47th Academy Awards including Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, and winner Robert De Niro.


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Further reading

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