The Godfather, One Of The Greatest Films Ever Made, Turns 50 Today

Cameron Frew

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The Godfather, One Of The Greatest Films Ever Made, Turns 50 Today

Featured Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Hyperbole has no place with The Godfather: five decades on, it remains one of the greatest movies of all time; untouchable in cast, atmosphere and legacy.

The Godfather is a classic in the truest sense of the word: its reputation precedes itself - this article is barely a footnote in its accolades - and even the most cine-apathetic recognise its place in movie history.

Like a delectable bottle of Blue Ridge, it's a movie that's only grown better with age: its terse violence is genuinely shocking, even now; its influence, from the corruption of power to a family caught in its own crosshairs, can be seen in Succession and Breaking Bad; and it's among the most definitive seminal works - without The Godfather, there's no Goodfellas or The Sopranos.

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The Godfather had its world premiere on this day, March 14, 50 years ago at Loew's State Theatre in New York City. Prior to its full release, it banked $15 million from advance rentals across more than 400 theatres.

People queued up and down the streets. Today, between then and re-releases, it's raked in anywhere between $246-$287 million.

While layered with knotty mobster dynamics, adages soaked in dread and oranges, The Godfather's through line is devastating simple: Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is getting old, and amid the volatile emergence of narcotics between the city's families, his son Michael (Al Pacino) is forced to evolve from a patriotic outsider to a crime boss.

Marlon Brandon and Al Pacino in The Godather (Paramount Pictures)
Marlon Brandon and Al Pacino in The Godather (Paramount Pictures)

Rose-tinted nostalgia is all the rage, but it's hard to see how The Godfather still sets the world alight if it was released today.

It's deliciously slow-paced, with its 'action' more grim than enthralling; and it's just shy of three hours, and unless you're sporting a cape, the appetite for an epic is low (case in point, Martin Scorsese's brilliant The Irishman).

The Godfather turns 50 today (Paramount Pictures)
The Godfather turns 50 today (Paramount Pictures)

Yet, whether it's generations of moviegoers discovering it on VHS and DVD courtesy of their parents' collection (me), quotes and GIFs ripped from the movie's context - for example, 'Look how they massacred my boy' has become a widely-deployed meme, but it's lost none of its throat-lumping stopping power on-screen - or the luckiest among us seeing it for the first time on the big screen to mark its anniversary, The Godfather is no-less potent in pop culture, nor is there any hesitance in celebrating it.

Simply, it's a film you can't refuse.

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Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV, Entertainment

Cameron Frew
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