Francis Ford Coppola. I have to go full-name here with the rise of Sofia in the last twenty years. There are only a total of 10 archiveable films for Coppola (which is low for this ranking) and 3 are simple “recommends” (not top 10 of the year worthy). So, the case for Coppola isn’t his depth- the case for Coppola is his masterpieces, in particular, having freaking The Godfather Part II (my #24 of all-time) as his 3rd best film. Coppola owns the 70’s—the most artistically fertile decade for American films (the 60’s being that for foreign films). He has the #1, #3, #4 and #22 best films of the decade. He could never match his 70’s output but in the last decade I’ve discovered his 80’s films—One From the Heart, Rumble Fish and The Cotton Club in particular and they’re superb. For years I had the theory that he just died out there artistically in the jungle making his masterpiece Apocalypse Now but that theory flies out the window when his 80’s output includes 3 films that rank as the best 100 of the 1980’s- one more than either Spielberg and Scorsese. I’ll get to it below but between the parallel editing montages at the finales and the use of dissolves—he’s one of cinema’s greatest editors. His best films are both narratively and stylistically ambitious—operatic.
Best film: Apocalypse Now. For years this was my #1 film of all-time and usually after I see it again, I think I should put it back there. It is slowly gaining traction amongst critics out there over the years as Coppola’s best film (sight and sound had it above The Godfather for the first time in their 2012 poll). Maybe there’s something in my brain that likes a search narrative for a person/man (The Searchers). Weird. The final bull slaughtering sequence and how I was one of the better editing sequences in cinema history. I think I’ll just have to add the entire film. Have you ever noticed just how many long dissolves there are in this film? I mean the opening has one, the finale has one, and there are just a ton in between. It’s extremely effective and beautiful and I wish more films used this. I can’t recall a film that leaned more highly on the use of the dissolve edit. The smoke as a visual is Coppola designing mise-en-scene like a painter—it’s incredibly prevalent here. So many singular images to capture- amongst the best of them are the creative ways he lights Brando
total archiveable films: 10
top 100 films: 3 (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II)
top 500 films: 6 (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Rumble Fish, One from the Heart)
top 100 films of the decade: 7 (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Rumble Fish, One from the Heart, The Cotton Club)
most overrated: Nothing here on TSPDT— 5 films in the top 1000 and the placements are close to mine. There’s really only one in the context of ranking his oeuvre. TSPDT has The Godfather Part III as his 5th best film and that’s not correct—not to anyone who has put eyes on Rumble Fish.
most underrated: … it’s Rumble Fish. I can’t find 151 better films and it’s not on the TSPDT top 1000—that’s bull. This as his 5th best film is another strength of Coppola. Despite having less than half the archiveable films of Scorsese (22 to 10)— Coppola’s 5th best film is better Scorsese’s (Casino)—kind of Interesting. Rumble Fish is a 94-minute visual exercise. Coppola’s imagery has never been avant-garde- a real treat to watch him push the envelope and create wall-art worthy images galore in crisp black and white.
gem I want to spotlight: One From the Heart. It’s a very simple story (fatally so for many critics) told in pure style- extremely experimental visually—just like Rumble Fish (all hail Coppola’s 1980’s!). It’s a marvel of artificial lighting (set on the strip in Vegas) and sound-stage work—some great Venetian blinds scenes—it reminds me of the play scenes in Paul Schrader’s Mishima and some of the neon light work we’d see in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover. One From the Heart is shot by Vittorio Storaro- one of the masters. The entire film is jaw-dropping oner long-takes and spectacular lighting. The whole movie seems to float like few films since or before it (perhaps La La Land, Birdman, Boogie Nights, Gravity, and a few before like Rules of the Game, The Shining, Rope– you lose yourself).
stylistic innovations/traits: Ambition—heightened visuals and audio design—I know that’s incredibly broad so let me try to break it down. First of all, like many of the other auteurs at this level, Coppola can do it all. He’s a great writer (The Godfather and Godfather Part II in particular are as well written as anything else in cinema history) but then he can turn around and make top 500 of all-time films like Rumble Fish and One From the Heart that aren’t particularly great screenplays—pure visual entries—fantastic. Parallel editing is what I think about first and foremost with Francis Ford. He has great editing in parallel action sequences in his two big masterpieces. The killing of Brando in Apocalypse Now and the hits during the baptism in The Godfather are two of the best edited and wonderful scenes or film segments in the history of cinema. He mirrors those in the big unveil in The Conversation as the riddle is solved, as well as the Fredo/murder montage in Part II, and the conclusion of The Cotton Club- (the murder montage here is paired with a great musical performance in edit). Coppola is the master of the dissolve edit—god I love it. How about his sound design work with the helicopter blending into the ceiling fan in Apocalypse Now or the elevated train noise and wine cork going off at the Italian restaurant when Pacino’s Michael murders Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) and McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) in The Godfather. The Conversation (that opening!) is an entire film about sound design. The photography in Rumble Fish and Apocalypse Now in particular—stunning-gorgeous imagery. The Godfather Part II is an epic—meticulous production design, sets, extras. One From the Heart is a tour-de-force of lighting—and you can’t mention lighting without mentioning what he and Gordon Willis did in The Godfather and Part II. Coppola’s narratives and themes play out almost like Greek tragedies- the Corleone family saga first and foremost. Certainly putting his own stamp on the material whether he’s adapting Conrad (Apocalypse Now) or Antonioni (The Conversation).
- Apocalypse Now
- The Godfather
- The Godfather Part II
- The Conversation
- Rumble Fish
- One from the Heart
- The Cotton Club
- The Godfather Part III
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Tucker: A Man and His Dream
By year and grades
|1972- The Godfather||MP|
|1974- The Conversation||MP|
|1974- The Godfather Part II||MP|
|1979- Apocalypse Now||MP|
|1981- One from the Heart||MS|
|1983- Rumble Fish||MP|
|1984- The Cotton Club||HR|
|1988- Tucker: A Man and His Dream||R|
|1990- The Godfather Part III||R|
|1992- Bram Stoker’s Dracula||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
We totally agree with this case ! Maybe I think The Outsiders deserved a R mention mais je pinaille. (Rumble Fish is really underrated and still doesn’t know why).
Damn he had one hell of a Decade in the 1970s not only did he direct three films that you can make a case for as the Best Film ever made (The Godfather 1 and 2, Apocalypse Now) He also directed A Masterpiece in The Conversation and i believe Wrote Patton? Arguably the Best Decade by anyone in Cinema History rivaled only By Humphrey Bogart in the 40s and Alfred Hitchcock in the 50s.
@Randy– good stuff here- thanks for adding the comments to the page.Yep he wrote Patton. Coppola actually had a better 1980’s than I once thought, too. It doesn’t compare with his 1970’s but I had this idea in my head that he really never recovered from the arduous shooting of “Apocalypse Now”– and that’s just not the case as evidenced by the three films of his that landed in the top 10 of the 1980’s.
id agree that outsiders should be archived and so should peggy sue.
Godfather 3 should have been higher . Also he produced American Graffiti in the seventies
@Steve Barr. Thanks for visiting the site and the comment here. I’ve studied Coppola closely- I’m comfortable with the ranking here. And yep- this is about directing so I don’t include who produced what. A lot of people produced a lot of things and largely producing is about money/finance.
Many cinephiles would say his ranking should be lower. (I disagree. He is in my top 5). The argument these cinephiles would make is that Coppola only made about 4 great movies. How would you respond to such criticism?
Also why have you ranked the searchers above apocalypse now? Why do you think it’s better?
I think the godfather 1 and 2 are coppola’s best films. Both in my top 5. In previous sight and sound polls you could vote entire trilogies (2 part-series) as one.
Would you say the godfather 1 and 2 combined are better than apocalypse now?
I like what you said about dissolve cuts. In 2001: A space odyssey, there is a really nice dissolve cut before the stargate sequence. It adds mystery and stays with you. More directors should use it. I think the reason dissolve cuts aren’t used that often is because film editing should be seamless and invisible to regular audiences so that the film looks more realistic (Raging Bull is the best edited film of all time because of this). Heavily editing your work can either work extremely well or look ‘fake’ and ‘choppy’.
@Oz— Thanks for the comment. If people argue Coppola only made 4 great films and should be lower I’d ask them to watch or rewatch Rumble Fish for starters. His work in the early 1980’s (Rumble Fish, One From the Heart, Cotton Club) is much better than people think. He was no longer making the best movies of all-time maybe (his own ridiculous standard from the 1970’s) at that point– but those are three really strong films. I bet most people that say that about him have never seen them (that’s what I used to say before I saw them).
I basically have The Searchers and Apocalypse Now tied. If you think it’s better that’s fine with me. If pressed I would argue the opening and closing bookends of The Searchers give it a microscopic edge.
That is a tough question about both 1-2 Godfathers combined. I’d have to give it some thought. I’m not sure I buy it as one film– the structures are different. Right? 2 weaves in the flashbacks. I dunno. I’ll think about it.
If he continued his greatness from the 70s onward he would probably be the Greatest Director Of All Time but he still managed to make Classics (tho not Masterpieces) such as Peggy Sue got Married and Rumble Fish.
@Randy– agreed. Tough for anyone to keep that up though. And as I go into above I don’t think his 1980’s were as bad as everyone thinks. I do, actually, have Rumble Fish as a masterpiece.
Oh that’s cool I’m not sure I agree with Rumble Fish being a Masterpiece (too many problems for it to be considered one) but it’s cool to see you think it is, so to each their own.
@Randy– what problems?
I feel like the acting in is Clotted and Murky and the worst out of all of Coppola’s films. I also feel like the overall meaning of the film (a meditation on the passing of time into adulthood and the danger in putting all of your teenage energy into something that ultimately doesn’t matter) to be a little too on the nose and not quite powerful enough to make up for the sparse narrative.
I feel like this warrants a rewatch at some point, and after watching some of the supplements where it’s described as being very heavily influenced by French New Wave, I think I’ll have to look at it through that lens
It is a good film but far from a Masterpiece.
i need to see the film to catch all of the flaws that were in it.
@Randy– Thanks. Disagree on the acting but more importantly- the visuals are better than any film released in 1983. At least anything outside of Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia. Hard for me to ignore that.
Love Rumble Fish, Mickey Rourke is one of my favorite (what if…).
I think The Outsiders & Peggye Sue deserved the Archives.
What about the rain people(1969)?
Tetro(2009),The Rainmaker(1997),The Rain People(1969) as well as Peggy Sue Got Married(1986) and The Outsiders(1983) should be in the archives.Haven’t you seen them?
@Janith. Yep- I’ve seen them
what are the best sound designs in film. do you think stalker, 2001, and blowup are contenders.
@m – those are excellent choices. Apocalypse Now, The Conversation for sure come to mind for me. Scorsese’s work in Raging Bull. I’m forgetting a bunch. The opening of Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.
I wish I liked Godfather and Apocalypse Now, but I just hated it, I think they are the two most overrated movies of all time
Hi @Lucas Henriques, do you hate them? Okay, do you know its artistic value? no? It seems that we are not watching the same movies, or I do not know what aspects we are looking at, what about the montage of the baptism in the godfather? one of the best scenes ever, or the opening and closing of apocalypse now? only rivaled by the searchers.
kindly if you find them so overrated, I dare you to name 20 movies better than that two.
@It’s ok to not think they aren’t top 20 films but bad films? Art exists beyond our understanding of it. You have every right to not like them, but objectively speaking, they are among the best films ever made, and Drake explains masterfully why.
What are your favorite films?
@Lucas Henriques– this makes me feel a little sad that you’re missing out on these two great films. In the future, I hope you can overcome whatever is keeping you from properly appreciating these masterpieces.
Hello, I want to say first that I love your site, because you talk to the comments (I think it’s really cool of you). Aldo, I want to talk, sorry, but I also think The Searchers (in Brazil, my homeland, Rastros de Ódio) is one of the most overrated films, it’s a cool film, well done and everything, but I can’t find something so great in it, actually I think it’s a silly story (the same thing that happened with North By Northwest and Notorius, both by Hitchcock) I think Grapes of Wrarh a thousand times better and it still has an incredible story. Now, returning to the subject of Godfather (in Brazil, The Powerful Big Boss, just out of curiosity) and Apocalypse Now, I only saw these films once, and I didn’t like them at all, I found these films very important for cinema history ( of course I can be wrong), in terms of editing and editing (as Drake found it phenomenal), I thought that Bergman’s Persona much better, the truth is that these films caused me a lot of sleep (I really like “slow cinema”, I love Tsai Ming Liang, Bela Tarr), I found the film boring, it’s like when we go to the Louvre to see a Mona Lisa or a Michelangelo and say “is that all ?, a Van Gogh is much better” I really don’t know what they are my favorite films, but all these films, in my opinion, are better than Godfather and Apocalypse Now): The Passenger (Antonioni), Day For Night (Truffaut), Ali (Werner Fassbinder), Offret, Persona, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, Le Mepris, Breathless, Veronique’s Double Life, Rashomon (I didn’t like the 7 samurai), L’HUMANITÉ (Bruno Dumont), Muholland Drive, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie, Bycicle Thieves, Three Color: Red, Any Ozu film is better, Paris, Texas, Interiors (Woody Allen), Taste Of Cherry, Vive L’Amour , The Death of Mister Lazeruscu, Winter Sleep and Once upon a time in Anatolia (Ceylan), Cache and Amour (both by Haneke). Finally, art is subjective, cinema is art.
@Lucas Henriques- The films you share here are superb. But you failing to grasp The Godfather, Apocalypse Now or The Searchers doesn’t change those films. Your opinion or tastes are yours– that’s fine- you are entitled to them. But they are masterpieces whether you say they are or not. I do not agree that art is wholly subjective. Your feelings on art are subjective. But you taking a look at something by Michaelangelo and saying “is that all?” is a reflection of you and your grasp (or lack thereof in this case) of art– not a reflection of the quality of the piece by Michaelangelo.
You won me the answer Drake
Drake would be furious if he sees your comment haha, there’s a lot here, have you seen Drake’s review of the searchers? here is http://thecinemaarchives.com/2018/09/19/the-searchers-1956-ford/
it happens to me with some movies in which i don’t understand its famous greatness, maybe you missed something the first time you saw it, as for “terms of editing and editing” i knew that editing is canonized as the most important element along with the movement of the camera, have you seen Battleship Potemkin? this is the perfect example to appreciate the edit. Also Apocalypse now is probably the best-shot-film, # 3 only behind Lawrence of Arabia and Blade Runner, Out of curiosity you have seen Tarkovsky’s movies if so, what do you think? in general very good list i have seen most, but i will disagree on being better Amour and OUATIA
would love to continue the conversation
Aldo,I wasn’t talking about Once Upon a Time In America, I was talking about Onnce Upon A Time In Anatolia (but I think you still won’t agree)
oh, in fact you already understood that it was Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, I didn’t know that the acronyms were the same, only now that I saw it.
Aldo and Drake, Could you point me to some classics (they don’t have to be classics, I prefer even underrated great films) from the 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90’s? I would be grateful. Have you seen all the films I mentioned? Tarkovsky is a Director that I saw some movies (some I didn’t like, others I loved), but unlike Coppola, I really admire the films I didn’t like about Tarkovsky. I didn’t like Stalker very much (I want to review) , but I think Stalker has incredible technical qualities, as well as being a visually and poetically beautiful film (contrary to what I think about Apocalypse Now, Godfather and The Searchers)
I would like to help you, but the movies I watch are mainly based on Drake’s lists, so he would be the most suitable.
Enter here and open http://thecinemaarchives.com/category/rankings/ and search Best Films of the Decade: The 1990, 1980, 1970, 1960, 1950, etc. start from top to bottom.
I saw 16 of the ones I mention.
I can only say to watch the movies again, the three you mention have technical qualities that can be appreciated even though you don’t like it, like Stalker especially Apocalypse now
For me, the best thing Coppola did was to say that Marvel films are despicable.
Do you like Lucreia Martel and Lisandro Alonso?I recommend you to see Tsai Ming-Liang, his films are very good
it’s curious, how reviewing a film can change your whole view of it, I reviewed Apocalypse Now and I loved it, the film is fantastic, the direction, Martin Sheen’s performance, the script, I really apologize for my ignorance. Certainly the film is among my 15 favorites.
Haha it’s pretty cool to hear that, now it only remains for you see the others
@Lucas Henriques – thanks for the comment. I know that feeling- happens to me often. Kudos to you for being willing to check it out again and approach it with an open mind.
When making this ranking did you value a director’s peak more than consistency, because I mean Twixt
and Jack are so horrible I feel like I’d have to put him down a few spots. But again, 4 of my favorite movies of all time are from Coppola, and I agree that his 1980s films are quite good, so I don’t really know, it just seems like having Twixt and Jack really would hurt your ranking. Also, are you excited for his new film Megalopis to come out. He says it is his dream project, I’m pretty nervous because his more recent films have been pretty bad, but I really hope this is a return to form.
@James Robbins- interesting. I mean I’m trying to take it all into account but I don’t really do like negative points for bad films. I treat it like it almost doesn’t exist. Maybe it is something to consider.
And also, assuming you’ve heard about, how good do you think Megalopolis will be (he claims it’s his dream project and something he’s been wanting to make for years)
@James Robbins- Yeah I’ve heard about it for a decade or more. I don’t think it is ever going to happen.
I think part of coppolas greatness is that with the godfather conversation and apocalypse films he made great masterpieces so he was able to explore and do more personal projects or ones that could never be regarded as the best films ever but they were his own personal expression. For example the outsiders, which is a good film but not as ambitious as his masterpieces.
I just stumbled into this conversation above about objectivity and subjectivity in art. I feel that we largely agree on the topic, but I have difficulty expressing it to others where that line is drawn. I find it much easier to apply objectivity to older films too – there is much more consistency in the retrospective praise for a film like Casablanca, for example, than a film like La La Land.
I believe in decades to come a lot of misunderstood modern classics will be reappraised and given their due, like many have before. But there is so much focus on subjective experiences in film criticism at the moment, which is fine and sometimes necessary, but not exactly conducive to proper art evaluation. Perhaps this is why I have been drawn so strongly to your site. What are your thoughts on this? Do you follow any particular contemporary critics who have a similar focus as you?
@Declan- I’m 100% with your comment here. Everything.
I follow Justin Chang– think he is both a great writer and, more often than not, a very good evaluator. I find it pretty rare when I disagree with either Peter Travers or Jeffrey Anderson from Combustible Celluloid when I see his reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
You disagree with Jeffrey.M.Anderson on The Score(2001).He gives it 3 stars out of 4 saying Brando deserved an oscar nomination but you don’t even have it in the archives.
@anderson- Nope- we don’t. The Score is just the 59th best film of 2001. Nothing against it- just isn’t anything special at all. If you look at Anderson’s 2001 recap page- he lists his top 10, a bunch of films as runners up– so he doesn’t have The Score in at least his top 25. He and I are actually pretty aligned here as well.
@Drake there was more than 59 films in your 2001 archives??? which year has the most archiveable films?
Is the Countdown(1967) better than The Score (2001)?I think you are putting unwarranted emphasis on the auteur theory.You archived Countdown because it is directed by Altman and you didn’t archive The Score because it is directed by Frank Oz.
@Anderson- says who? And I have Frank Oz films in the archives. I’m done talking about The Score- not worthy of it.
@Drake- What’s your opinion on him calling Marvel films despicable?
@Finn- I think they’re regrettable comments for the most part. I think there’s a fair critique of Marvel– with a few exceptions I don’t see a lot of artistic expression coming out of these films. However, I thought the harshness of the comments from FFC and Scorsese and they’re reasons behind it to be a little off. But hey– they have earned the right to say whatever they want. They also come from a world/era where films like The Godfather or The Exorcist were literally the biggest money makers of all-time (unadjusted for inflation). I think the rest of us are sort of used to dividing artistic achievement and box office success at this point.
Caught Rumble Fish (1983) for the 1st time
– really interesting film, awesome opening with the sign and the clouds moving around
– highly stylized imagery, love the brilliant red and blue fish
– the gang fight is comically ridiculous
– many low angle shots
– crazy seeing such a young Matt Dillion, Diane Lane, Chris Penn, Nick Cage, Mickey Rourke
– almost felt like it could have been based on a play, particular the gang fight
– very different but definitely impressive
If Francis Ford Coppola only made The Godfather 1, The Godfather 2, and Apocalypse Now and never made a single other movie where would he rank on your list?
@James Trapp- hmmm– so just buy points he’d be between 20-35. It would be fun to compare him with like the Coen brothers. He’d have the best three films, but they’d have everything else
Yeah, I watched all 3 somewhat recently (last 2 months or so) and was just reflecting on the absurdity of a single director making those 3 movies. While I do not currently have an official list (working on one) I wouldn’t rule out all 3 making my top 10-15. Godfather is my # 1 all time and both GF2 and Apocalypse Now are probably in my top 15.
Probably the closest to this would be Scorsese’s top 3 of Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Taxi Driver which is also ridiculous. Raging Bull is probably my # 2 all time and Goodfellas is definitely in top 15. Love Taxi Driver too but probably not top 15.
What do you think would have been the general trajectory of Coppola’s career had he not been chosen to direct The Godfather? I think it’s evident that he wouldn’t have been nearly as accomplished or great. We’d lose the entire trilogy and likely Apocalypse Now, because I don’t see how Coppola could have acquired the prestige, time, and funds necessary for his war epic without the profits and praise from The Godfather I-II. However, do you think it’s likely we might still end up with a Rumble Fish or even a The Conversation equivalent? Might his peak period stretch longer into the late 80s and perhaps even later without his fall from grace due to the exhaustion of creating Apocalypse Now? Do you expect that he’d still flourish into at least a top 250 director?
@Graham– that’s an interesting hypothetical…yeah I’m pretty sure we don’t get that epic version of Apocalypse Now– he needed a ton of money and clout to pull that off. An FFC biographer would know more- I think he had some quotes out there that his interest was really in smaller, more personal projects— I think it may have looked more like Sofia’s career perhaps?
@Drake Do you intend to do a Ford Coppola study? I mean he is one of the best directors of all time. There isn’t any pages for Rumble Fish and The Conversation. I found plenty to admire in his 2009 film Tetro as well. Gardens of Stone is a very nice film as well that has great acting.
@Anderson- I certainly do intend to do a Coppola study- I’m just not sure when. From 2011-2016 or so I was able to get to more than 1000 movies a year- I’m just not able to do that at this point
You don’t have The Rainmaker in the archives? Just watched it then and felt there was enough visually and a strong performance by a young Damon was enough to warrant an R from me. Was wondering your reasons for its exclusion?
@Joel vH- I’ve seen it but do not have it in the archives. You could be right- it would be worthy. What about it impressed you enough visually? I don’t have any reasons for the exclusion, I sort of start with the assumption that every film is not worthy of the archives, and then wait for reasons to put it in– and I just didn’t have enough here. I look forward to rewatching it.
I’m not too sure really now that you ask. The mise-en-scene in certain scenes such as Bruiser’s office. The film just felt competently directed I guess like you were in safe hands but that probably isn’t enough to get in the Archives. I guess it doesn’t really stand out or push boundaries in any certain aspects but I just thought it was solid enough in most areas.
Starting a Coppola study, something amusing when I was looking at his filmography, I noticed he directed Jack (1996) with Robin Williams, I saw that movie as a kid and it legitimately might be the worst movie ever made. Coppola directing the best movie of all time in my opinion, The Godfather, and directing Jack is a little like Michael Jordan starring for the greatest NBA team of all time (1996 Bulls) and being the owner of the worst team of all time (the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats)
@James Trapp Nice! I did mine at the start of the year. Will be eagerly expecting your updates.
And yeah, Jack is horrendous. I don’t think it’s one of the worst movies ever, but you will receive zero argument from me if want to put it there.)
@Mad Mike – sounds good, and yeah I saw Jack as a kid when I was really into a Robin Williams phase and I just remember being really let down. So yeah maybe I’m exaggerating a little.
@James Trapp Honestly, little James Trapp was not that far off. I strongly recommend that you listen to your past self and don’t rewatch this movie.))
It is difficult to come up with anything new to say about The Godfather. The lighting was what really caught my eye in this most recent viewing. The opening 20 minutes or so going back and forth between the inside of the Corleone residence and the outside yard. The inside of the residence is dark and as quiet as a church. In fact the conversations between Don Corleone and the various people asking for favors feel like conversations between parishioners and a priest. Jumping between these scenes and the wedding going on outside with everyone singing, dancing, and drinking during a nice sunny day sets the tone of the film. There is a similar juxtaposing of light in the meeting with the 5 families scene, right before it’s bright outside and the camera tilts up toward the buildings before showing the meeting of the 5 families which occurs in a dark room with dim lighting.
One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the juggling of so many characters, yet each character, even the more minor ones feel like fleshed out characters (one of the benefits so such a brilliant cast). Take someone like Clemenza, he’s like the 8th or 9th most important character, yet he’s a complete character.
The score is operatic. Uses life events, beginning with wedding, ending shortly after funeral and baptism.
The scene where Michael warns Fredo not to take sides against the family…ever. This is so chilling makes you wonder how this can be the same guy from the opening of the movie asking Kay if she likes her lasagna
I love the Newspaper montage in the middle of the film, I always admire creative narrative techniques, like the breakfast montage in Citizen Kane
This has been my #1 film of all time and after every re-watch it only reinforces it for me.
@James Trapp– good work here James. All fine points- I love the one about Clemenza.
@James Trapp Are you going in chronological order with FFC filmography? If yes, I would be very curious about what you think about You’re a big Boy now, Finnians Rainbow and Rain People.
Regarding the Godfather, yeah, it’s quite hard to say something new about this huge monument of the movie. But, as Scorsese said: “Here’s another film of which so much has been said and written over the years that you wind up thinking: There’s nothing left to say . . . But of course, that’s always a cop-out because it’s never true—there’s always more to say about a film, to see it again is to see it anew”))
@Mad Mike – I agree it’s always a new experience, I am doing chronological but started with Godfather, I have like 14 or 15 films on my list. What do you think of the ones you mentioned? Maybe I’ll add them on. It’s tough for some of the more prolific directors as a 100 % complete study of the entire filmography is quite a daunting task, so I just pick around 15 or so. It’s sort of a balancing act as I want to do a fairly thorough study but at the same time there are so many directors I am interested in, kind of have to make a compromise.
@James Trapp You can skip them but I think that Big Boy and Rain People are worthy of a look.
Big Boy has a nice energy of a young filmmaker playing with the all the tools at his disposal, and I don’t think that Coppola was this playful ever again( it feels like a french new wave movie in spirit). But it’s unpolished and all over the place.
Rain People feel closer to the Coppola we know. It’s a decent character study about a dissatisfied housewife hitting the road. I liked the creative use of flashbacks and really cool use of slow zooms. Also, his first collaboration with Caan and Duvall. Who both give really good performances. Especially Caan, who subverts his tough guy type with this role.
From this 3 movies definitely the one that’s has most value and is closest to archive in my opinion.
Rainbow you can safely skip especially if you are not a fan of big technicolor musicals of the 60s.
Astaire still got the moves, and Coppola shots musical numbers in nice wide shots that give you an opportunity to enjoy the choreography. But I felt that it’s overlong at 2hr 20min, Tommy Steele is somewhat annoying as a Leprechaun (yeah, there is a leprechaun) and there is a subplot about racist senator being turned in the black man.))
@Mad Mike – thanks for the suggestions, I think I will check out Rain People, excited to see more Caan and Duvall.
@James Trapp Cool. Hope you’ll enjoy it. )
The Conversation (1974)
– What a film, a cross between a character study and an atmospheric psychological thriller
– Remarkable opening, use of wide angle shot and slow zoom. Opening 3 minutes brilliantly sets up the rest of the film; Harry having to decipher conversations from a distance. The use of the mime demonstrates an auditory disconnect from the visuals.
– Like Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) this film makes the audience feel like they are taking part in the surveillance the main character is conducting as everything feels like we are seeing through Harry’s point of view.
– Great shot in the phone booth, reminds me of the Rosemary’s Baby phone booth scene.
– The dream sequence is haunting, furthering Harry’s paranoia (apparently Gene Hackman based what Harry says in the dream about his childhood and having polio on Hackman’s childhood in an attempt to relate to the character)
– Spectacular sound design start to finish, Walter Murch, deserves much of the credit according to Coppola.
– I love the party scene; it is the only time where the very introverted Harry starts to open up a little (the booze probably has something to do with it) with his colleagues and then snaps at them, great performance from Allen Garfield.
– The big reveal is so brilliant in the way the audience is forced to realize all the information they have comes filtered through Harry’s mind and point of view, a different sort of take on an unreliable narrator. Of course the irony is Harry himself admits he “doesn’t know about human nature” yet he assumes to understand what the recording must imply.
@James Trapp- I love this- thank you for sharing. At some point, if you haven’t already, you should cross off Blow-Up and Blow Out on your list to see.
@Drake – yeah I have seen both and love them. Blow Out is my top De Palma film, speaking of which here is a great interview of De Palma interviewing Coppola. The whole article is kind of long but the actual interview is only a couple of pages.
@James Trapp Great notes.
– Murch importance is hard to overstate. I read that he made a lot of decisions regarding the final montage of the film because Coppola was busy shooting Godfather 2. And it’s my impression that much of the movie was built in the editing room. Like there was a whole subplot about Harry being a secret owner in the building and his relationship with neighbors.
– Agree on the opening. It’s a terrific way to start the film.
– I was also very impressed with the sequence in the hotel. It’s so creepy.
– I really love how the camera goes from corner to corner of the shot. Like a surveillance camera would.
– What do you think about the finale? Was there a bug, or Hackman was simply losing it? I think it could be read both ways. But I think the bug is real, and it’s his Saxophone.
If I remember correctly, during the convention, there is a moment where a guy goes thorough the background carrying the saxophone.
@Mad Mike – thanks, this film continues to improve with each additional viewing. Coppola’s ability to create suspense in this film rivals Hitchcock and Polanski.
As far as the ending goes, I am not sure that there is an actual physical bug in Harry’s apartment. I interpreted the ending to have a more metaphorical significance in that Harry, the supposed master with almost God like ability to hear any conversation, now feels like the target; Harry’s life and privacy has been invaded and he cannot handle it, hence destroying his own apartment.
@James Trapp Oh, sure, it’s more important on the thematic level. But I think it’s an interesting scene to speculate about.)
The Godfather II (1974)
– Great Dissolve Edit around 11:10 from Vito at Ellis Island circa 1901 to his grandson circa 1958. Great scene as it sets up the back-and-forth transitions throughout film.
– Like the first film opening and closing of doors motif.
– The lighting stood out to be in my recent viewing of the 1st film, no different here, dark rooms where high-level mafia business is discussed.
– Love Michael calling out the smug Senator Geary’s hypocrisy
– Amazing score, foreboding
– Love the writing, Roth’s line about “loving baseball ever since Arnold Rothstein in the 1919 world series.” Both hilarious and sounds like something his character would say
– While the cast is not quite as deep Roth is such as great character and worthy adversary to Michael Corleone, I love all the subtext in the Corleone/Roth conversations
– 2nd greatest male performance ever after De Niro in Raging Bull
– Michael still patient and cunning as ever but is less calm than in the 1st film as he loses his temper several times (he never does this in the 1st)
– The scene where Michael confronts Fredo is one of the most heartbreaking in the series and Cazale deserves the lion share of the credit, it might be the best scene of Cazale’s career with the “I’m your older brother Mike and I was stepped over.”
– The scope is insane, covers so much; Vegas, political corruption, Cuba and Fidel Castrol, Ellis Island, and the immigrant experience.
– I don’t think I fully appreciated the dexterity of De Niro’s performance; I mean he had to essentially play the character is a way that made you believe it was the same character we would expect Marlon Brando to be in the 1st film, just incredible.
– I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call the final scene with the flash back followed by Michael sitting alone in the cabin in Tahoe the greatest ending scene of all time.
– Every time I watch GF2 I am so close to declaring it even better than GF1 but I always come a little short and I don’t think it’s any different here which is no insult as I have them both in my top 10.
– A Masterpiece amongst Masterpieces
Apocalypse Now (1979)
– The first 7 and a ½ minutes of this film display more artistic ambition than most entirely
– Maybe I’m a little biased a big Doors fan (really just 60s and 70s rock in general) but I can’t
think of a more perfect song to use to bookend this film.
– Dissolve Edit galore
– Robert Duvall absolutely kills its, the Godfather was the 1st movie I saw Duvall in so I
thought of him like Tom Hagen so its always interesting to see him playing a character so
utterly opposite, the death cards, the surfing obsession lol
– There’s a shot at 22:22 of the boat at the beginning of the mission, it’s a beautiful shot
with the background bright and optimistic with blue sky and accentuated green around
the river, the cinematography is brilliant, gets darker as they go further down the river,
brilliant as an allegory
– Coppola’s cameo is hilarious are very meta “don’t look at the camera…just go like you’re
– Despite the intense and serious atmosphere there is plenty of humor mainly in the
absurdity of war.
– The entire Ride of the Valkyries is practically a movie within the movie, operatic and
– The constant smoke is extremely effective in creating a terrifying atmosphere.
– The use of lighting is masterful, around the 1:35:00 the flickering light near the bridge, the
way Kurtz’s face is not fully shown when you see him for the 1st time.
– The scene when they arrive at the town/area of where general Kurtz is living has to be one
of the greatest images ever captured in film, it feels like they are arriving at a mythical
– I’ve said before I love “epic journey” films and it doesn’t really get more epic than this,
Brando gives one of the greatest performances ever on a per minute basis up there with
Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs and Orson Welles in the 3rd Man.
– While I still have Godfather 1 and 2 slightly above this I can totally see the case for this as
Coppola’s best film, top 15 ever in my opinion
@James Trapp- I love this. And totally agreed on the perfect song comment.
@James Trapp I’m curious, which version did you see? And If you have seen more than one, which one you prefer?
@Mad Mike – Apocalypse Now final cut – it’s just over 3 hours, I saw the redux version the 1st time I watched a few years back, I watched the final cut twice in the last year so I’ve never seen the shorter version
@James Trapp – I see. I was able to catch the Final cut in the cinema at the start of July (when I went through Coppola filmography, I watched the theatrical cut). It was a terrific experience. The quality of the restoration was top-notch and an opportunity to watch helicopter attack on the big screen was worth the price of admission alone.
But I gotta say I prefer the theatrical cut. I feel that additional scenes in the director’s cut (French plantation sequence is the biggest one) don’t add much to the narrative, but the plantation section messes up the pace somewhat.
@Mad Mike- I think that’s fair about the plantation sequence
One from the Heart (1981)
– I ready almost nothing going into this, was in for a treat.
– Admittingly it was a little slow in the beginning and took a bit to understand the film’s rhythm but once it got going, I was able to really get into it even if it was light on plot.
– Splendid use of color and lighting obviously, more of an experience than a story to follow.
– Definitely will re-visit at some point.
@James Trapp – Glad, yoy enjoyed it! I thought it was fascinating visually, but two things hurt it in my eyes.
1) The central couple is not interesting. I think Coppola needed more big name actors with screen presence to burn to carry this thin story. Forrest and Garr, are okay actors, but they don’t have enough charisma. Also, it doesn’t help that they look happier with new partners (by the way Julia and Kinski look a lot more appealing and interesting, I would rather watch a movie about them) and it makes it harder to invest in their relationship woes.
2) I think it should have been a full-blown musical. The scene where there are dancing in the street(the closest the film has to a musical number) was a welcome jolt of energy that the film lacks elsewhere.
I’ve seen a decent copy of the movie, but I wish that criterion would pick it up. To do justice to Storaro magnificent work.
Rumble Fish, The Outsiders (1983)
– Feels like companion pieces.
– Rumble Fish has crazy opening images with the sign and the clouds moving around.
– highly stylized imagery, love the brilliant red and blue fish.
– the gang fight is comically ridiculous.
– many low angle and high angle shots
– for the Outsiders it was like a massive 80s coming out party my god, even Tom Cruise.
– almost felt like it could have been based on a play, particular the gang fight
– both films seem to take place in their own world, few adults around.
– Matt Dillion basically plays same character in both films but he definitely plays the role perfectly.
I watched The Outsiders recently after reading the book and was quite impressed. Flawed in areas, but I can’t deny the effectiveness of some of the shot choices, like some nice split diopters, and like you mentioned the cast.
@James Trapp – I agree with your opinion that Outsiders shouldn’t be in archives. It’s watchable, but I all the melodrama felt over-blown (or not stylized enough). Actually, I’ve enjoyed the first part, introducing the kids and their relationship to one another the most. I would happily watch the whole movie about this, without murder, and it’s fallout subplot.
I’ve enjoyed Rumble fish less, but cannot deny that it’s quite impressive visually. I think it’s the most interesting movie from the second tier of Coppola filmography(although I’ve enjoyed another one more).
@Mad Mike – Agreed, The Outsiders is watchable but I probably won’t return to it, it feels like a warm up for the far superior Rumble Fish and I too think Rumble Fish is Coppola’s best post 70s film. I have it as not quite a MP but I’ve only seen it twice now and will definitely return to it again at some point.
The Cotton Club (1984)
– Coppola takes another shot at gangster genre.
– Love many films set around this time period, 20s-30s.
– Impressive re-creation of the prohibition era from the clothes to the clubs.
– Works both as period piece drama and as a musical with impressive set pieces.
– Love blue and pink lighting around the 1 hour 48 min mark.
– Impressive narrative and use of interlocking stories all revolving around the club and focusing on not only the mob but also the racial strife of the era (specifically the hypocrisy of the mob and club using black talent for their shows while treating the black community like 2nd class citizens who weren’t even allowed in club if they weren’t performers.
– Great performance from Diane Lane as a mob girl caught in a love triangle, other strong performances as well (Gere, Hines) but I thought Lane stood out.
– If I have a complaint, it probably dragged a little toward the end and probably could have cut 10-15 min but other than that really enjoyed although I would stop short of calling it a Masterpiece.
@James Trapp – I liked Cotton club significantly less than you. I felt that both storylines about Gere and Hines were undercooked. Conflicts between brothers in both cases were not given enough space, and love triangle Gere-Lane-Remar was by the numbers. I also felt that Gere was bland (although kudos for his musical skills) and Remar while fine, but we’ve seen this character so many times. And Remar take just cannot compete. Lane was also the standout for me.
I thought the movie was strongest when it focused on Club itself (those glorious dance numbers) and Hoskins-Gwynne storyline. I actually think that you can make really compelling series about the Cotton Club and people in it’s orbit.
But I still think that the movie is certainly worth the watch due to the Coppola direction (there are several strong sequences).
I gotta mention that I’ve watched theatrical cut. If I understand correctly, it gives more time to Hines storyline. I don’t think it will change my opinion drastically. But I’m planing to watch it sometime in the future. More dancing from Hines cannot be a bad thing.)
@Mad Mike – Agree on the brothers conflict not getting enough focus, I’m also admittingly not a big Nic Cage fan. And yes the love triangle was uninspired.
I guess I really enjoyed it as a musical more than as a drama although I did think the drama was compelling if somewhat flawed for the reasons you mention. Coppola is certainly more than capable of handling large ensemble casts.
@James Trapp – Yeah, I can see that, and I agree the musical parts are the strongest parts. But other parts are weaker, and there ain’t enough musical numbers (or meat to them) to cover the weaknesses of dramatic storylines. At least for me.)
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) – A poor man’s Back to the Future, I had a difficult time getting into this one. A big problem here was that Nic Cage is so unbelievably bad (and this comes from someone who already thought he was generally aweful).
start the below video at the 2 min mark to witness the worst acting in recorded human history
Tucker: A Man and His Dream (1988) – While I have always been a little weary of biopics as their very structure can be quite predictable. With that said I actually found a lot to admire here, it’s much lighter than the majority of Coppola’s work, a bit of a feel good movie. Like John Lee Hancock’s The Founder (2016) which focused on McDonald’s former CEO Ray Kroc, this film focuses on another real life entrepreneur from the 1950s era. Coppola re-creates the era well with set pieces and retro vehicles. There are obvious parallels between Tucker Preston and Coppola himself (particularly ambition), if you read about it then it’s obvious what attracted Coppola to the material. Overall I think the film works well as a period piece of the post-WWII manufacturing boom and values of the era relating to family. The camera is quite active, there are many effective low angle shots. I would label this 3rd tier Coppola, certainly not at MP level or the level below, but none the less enjoyable and I would recommend.
@James Trapp – Interesting. I’ve enjoyed both this significantly more than you it seems.
Peggy Sue – I totally understand your point about Nic Cage. It’s bizarre, and frankly I’m surprised that Coppola let him go that far.) I remember when I was telling my friends about this movie, I even mentioned that Nic Cage performance could be really divisive.
But I’ve enjoyed it. Cage is committed to all this weirdness and creates an eccentric but memorable character. But I can understand how this could have rubbed you the wrong way.
Beyond Nicholas, the cast was pretty good (if you can roll with them being obviously too old to be high schoolers). Especially Turner. And on the crafts side, the Costume Design and John Barry score are quite lovely.
I’ve especially wanted to mention Jordan Cronenweth cinematography. There are not many beautiful shots per se (although the shot of Peggy arrival to her grandparent’s house is quite beautiful). But his use of light was really cool. Even in the scene that you posted when they argue in the basement, you can see an example of it.
Overall I think that if a potential viewer can get past several mmm idiosyncrasies of the movie (and it’s fair if they can’t, because they are pretty significant) you get quite good and unique film.
@James Trapp – Actually, I would put Tucker under FFC big four. It’s not terribly close, but I’ve enjoyed it very much. I thought it had an interesting stylized look and energetic pace.
Bridges is pretty good (especially in his final monologue) but I’ve wanted to mention his outstanding chemistry with the whole cast, but particularly Joan Allen (it was refreshing to see a married couple with healthy and loving relationship) and friendship with Martin Landau character.
I think your takes on the movie are quite similar, actually. But I’ve enjoyed what the movie was offering a lot more.)
Godfather 3 has the misfortune of following 2 of the greatest films of all time and obviously by comparison, well there is no comparison. As for the Sophia Coppola casting well that is admittingly indefensible, I was wondering if the criticism has become overblown and I got my answer (it’s not). None the less I found a lot to praise.
– Pacino is excellent as is Garcia, obviously there’s a father/son dynamic going on since
Pacino’s actual son (wisely) wants nothing to do with “the family business”
– Editing is always top notch with Coppola, no different here especially the final 15 minutes
– the score is terrific as always
– there is a progression in the Godfather series as the 1st is more focused on the “family” while
the 2nd expands the scope and the 3rd even more so by showing the interactions of the
“family” with the corporations and the church
– I have to admit I really missed Duvall’s Tom Hagen, always thought he was the most
underappreciated character in the series.
@James Trapp – You make several great points. I’m always baffled when people say that it’s one of the worst from Coppola. Guys have you seen Jack or Twixt?)) And I 100% agree about Duvall missing from the movie. His presence is sorely missed. This is especially frustrating because it was due to the money.
– Sofia casting was a bad idea. Her inexperience and freshness kinda work for her character, but I can offer no other kind words about her performance. It’s especially weird because they have Bridget Fonda for a pretty thankless role as a reporter.
– I actually think that, except Sofia, other members of the cast are at least solid.
– What hit me on the rewatch during my Coppola study is that how this movie fails to immerse in the time period unlike the first two.
– I think that the movie really picks up in Sicily. Agree about editing. The opera sequence is terrifically edited. And it also feels a bit distinct from the killing montages of the previous parts due to Michael being a potential victim.
Good movie overall, but I think it will never leave the colossal shadow of the first two films. It doesn’t matter how many cuts or name changes FFC makes.
I agree with Andrew Sarris wh0 called G0dfather 3 the w0rthy c0nclusi0n t0 the greatest American film epic 0f the last twenty years and an underrated masterpiece in it’s 0wn right ! By the way Vincent Canby in The New Y0rk Times called G0dfather 2 a Frankenstein M0nster 0f a m0vie that walked and talked but had n0thing 0n it’s mind and anything 0f any w0rth had already been said in the first film ! !
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
– Just finishing up my Coppola study, covered 13 of his films. Still need to watch Tetro
– I’m surprised to say I think Dracula may be the hidden gem here. Visually it’s quite
impressive with the usual Coppola traits; many dissolve edits, bold use of color, and
– Gary Oldman is as fantastic as Keanu Reeves is awful. Reeves is unsurprisingly just blown
off the screen by Oldman and Anthony Hopkins.
– Loved the use of shadows a la F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu.
– Feels like an erotic thriller much of the time, effective in shifting tones.
– Impressive costume work.
– Coppola effective in creating a unique and utterly bizarre world different from other
@James Trapp- thank you for providing the insights and observations as you go along here. Poor Keanu! haha.
@James Trapp – I agree with on all the counts. Made me wish that more top tier directors made would try something similar (artistically ambition horror movie with top talent and budget to spare).
– I especially wanted to note Eiko Ishioka costume design. The costumes are utterly bizarre and delightful. I think it’s one of pretty rare movies where costume design is such a dominant and noticeable part. At least for me.
– Not only Keanu is outclassed by Oldman. He is outclassed by Oldman under a ton of make-up (mostly) and eastern european accent. Ouch))
– I think your comparison with erotic thriller is excellent. I feel that Coppola made sexual subtext of the book (not a fan of the book, by the way) into the text and ran with it. I think that it works. Also, the romantic angle with Ryder looking like Dracula lost love is a nice addition.
Just finished up with Coppola, watched 13 of his films and enjoyed 11
Here is my rankings using this sites grading system
The Godfather 1972 MP
The Conversation 1974 MP
The Godfather Part II 1974 MP
Apocalypse Now 1979 MP
One from the Heart 1981 HR
The Outsiders 1983 Not
Rumble Fish 1983 MS
The Cotton Club 1984 HR
Peggy Sue 1986 Not
Tucker: A Man… 1988 R
The Godfather 3 1990 HR
Dracual 1992 HR
Tetro 2009 HR
@James Trapp – Congrats on finishing your study!
I will post some of my thoughts about individual movies later.
I’m curious, did you watch directors cut’s or theatrical for Outsiders, Cotton club, or The Godfather 3?
@Mad Mike – Thanks, look forward to it.
For GF3 and The Outsiders I watched the theatrical, for Cotton Club I watched Cotton Club
Encore which I think is director’s cut.
@James Trapp – I think you covered all Coppola movies worth watching (except maybe Rain people, but I wouldn’t call it an essential watch). I think that Rainmaker is a decent watch, but it’s pretty anonymous.
When I started Coppola filmography, the main question was for me will there be hidden gems or will I agree with consensus. And I’m more in agreement with the consensus.
But the interesting thing is, that FFC didn’t stop making visually interesting movies. He stopped making masterpieces, sure. But there enough interesting stuff in his filmography for the adventurous cinephile to make it worthwhile.
@Mad Mike – I might check out The Rain People in the future, Rainmaker I saw years ago, was not crazy about it but I may watch in future.
Good points regarding the hidden gems, going into the study I knew what his top 4 films were so the only question was which will emerge as gems. For me those were Dracula, Tetro, and I’m not sure if Rumble Fish counts as its very highly rated on this site but underrated on most other lists. And agree on the visual ambition never ceasing even in films that did not totally work such as Cotton Club. His big 4 films are so good that he would probably be a top 25 all time had he never made anything else but I think he absolutely belongs in the top 10 all time.
Curious if you have viewed Tetro (2009) it was shot in gorgeous b&W photography. Interesting story and Coppola’s first original screenplay since The Conversation (1974). It seems a deeply personal film for Coppola based on what I’ve ready about the complex relationship Coppola seems to have within his large and talented family of artists. Admittingly it does drag on a little by the films final act and probably could have cut 20 min or so but I found it quite fascinating.
@James Trapp- Yeah I saw it when it first came out- just once (usually never enough for an auteur like Coppola)- so we’re talking 10-12 years ago at this point. I will for sure get to it again
@Drake – it has flaws, a little repetitive at times, but it’s the kind of film you feel Coppola probably really enjoyed making, sort of a back to the roots thing.
I abs0lutely l0ve this discussi0n ! c0pp0la is my fav0rite filmmaker and I h0pe he makes Megal0p0lis . As f0f G0dfather 3 , I agree with Andrew Sarris wh0 called it the w0rthy c0nclusi0n t0 the greatest American film epic 0f the last twenty years and an underrated masterpiece in it’s 0wn right . I als0 th0ught it was everything that Sc0rsese with that ab0manani0n The Irishman tried t0 d0 but failed by that I mean his s0 – called investigati0n 0f regret , m0rtality and the price 0ne pays f0r a life 0f crime ! Speaking 0f Sc0rsese , I d0n’t think DeNir0 gets en0ugh credit f0r the tw0 m0vies he directed . I th0ught A Br0nx Tale was the M0vie G00dfellas sh0uld have been but wasn’t and The Departed wasn’t the best m0vie 0f 2006 The G00d Shepherd was ! As f0r c0pp0la’s w0rst film I w0uld have t0 agree with the ch0ice 0f Jack . I kind 0f liked his last three films , which n0 0ne saw . As f0r his ” failures ” 0f the 1980s 0ne Fr0m the Heart , Rumble Fish , The C0tten Club and Tucker they were all better than a l0t direct0r’s ” successes 0f the same peri0d !
@Steve Barr – I love A Bronx Tale as well but better than Goodfellas? That’s a little much, I mean obviously rating films is subjective to a certain extent but that only goes so far. I mean what if anything does A Bronx Take do better? And again I really do love A Bronx Tale and obviously there are some similarities between the two films but still.
Some things you said was true but the line about Goodfellas. Come on dude.
I had seen Apocalypse Now twice before and always acknowledged it’s significance but it wasn’t until this recent viewing (and also viewing the documentary Hearts of Darkness) that absolutely blew my mind. There are no words to describe the sheer scale and power of this film. I was completely bowled over by the final bull sacrifice sequence, the shots of Sheen in the mud with the lightning flashes, that magnificent score and use of the Doors. I feel confident that it is Coppola’s greatest artistic triumph and the greatest film ever made. It is really special how a piece of art can change for you over the years and as your knowledge expands.
@Ce – I am curious which version did you watch? Apocalypse Now Redux is I believe 49 minutes longer so 3 hours 22 minutes and has some great scenes but also slows down the momentum a little.
Personally I prefer The Final Cut which takes about 20 minutes from The Redux version. The Final Cut makes a sort of compromise between the Theatrical and Redux as it adds to the Theatrical Version without slowing the momentum
@Ce- I love this share- thank you for sending!
Does anybody here think that The Godfather: Part II is better than The Godfather? I just rewatched both and, man, it’s extremely close. I think I might just give the edge to Part II because of the parallel editing, but it’s a tight race.
@Pedro- I also think Part II is slightly better.
I think that they are so close in quality of their cinematic elements that I give an edge to Part II just because I find it slightly better paced and slightly more impressive in its storytelling.
@Pedro – When I made my top 100 list I put:
The Godfather as my # 1 all time and The Godfather: Part II as my # 7 all time. However, I have gone back and forth over the years.
I think for a lot of people it comes down to the scope of the 2nd film being greater, you could argue its even more of an epic than the 1st. The 2nd includes so much beyond just the Corleone Family as you have Vegas, political corruption, Cuba and Fidel Castrol, Ellis Island, and the immigrant experience.
On the other hand the flow of the 1st does not get interrupted by the multiple time lines, the narrative of the 1st flows more smoothly along.
They both have extremely intense emotional scenes but the 2nd is even more gut wrenching; you have
Michael confronting Fredo leading to the best acting of Cazale’s career with the “I’m your older brother Mike and I was stepped over.” It’s tough to watch but it might be the single best scene in the series from an emotional perspective along with the final scene in #2.
Then again the 1st has the “settling all family business” sequence which might be the most impressive editing of the series (I think it’s superior to the also great sequence at the end of # 2) I use of lighting is probably equally impressive for both.
@James Trapp – Great stuff here, thanks. Yeah, it’s very close. I agree that the baptism sequence in The Godfather is arguably the most impressive feat of editing in the series, but the way Coppola cuts between the lives of Vito and Michael through dissolves, matching happenings in their lives, may just be better. Still, I’m not sure which is the better film.
@Pedro – I too love the dissolves
I said above the use of lighting is great in both but if I had to choose I’d probably go with the 1st, the wedding scene to start the 1st juxtaposes scenes outside on a bright sunny day with scenes taking place in the dark interiors of the Corleone mansion representing the secretive underworld much of the film takes place in.
I love De Niro (my # 1 all time actor) and he’s amazing in GF2 but if I had to pick I loved Brando’s performance even more. Speaking of which the 1st has a deeper cast of great characters where the 2nd is obviously more Michael Corleone centric (certainly not a bad thing)
I love how GF1 uses life events, beginning with wedding, ending shortly after funeral and baptism.
While the 2nd has the more complex narrative there is a lot to love about the narrative of 1 such as the great Newspaper montage in the middle of the film, I always admire creative narrative techniques, like the breakfast montage in Citizen Kane.
There are obviously several other scenes you could argue for but I think the Louis Restaurant scene with Michael retrieving the gun from the bathroom and shooting Sollozzo and the McCluskey is the most important in the series, it’s a sort of turning point where Michael has officially crossed over from civilian to gangster. You could argue that Michael’s transformation is a little more gradual but that is certainly the inflection point. Michael’s transformation is so crucial to the narrative which is clearly influenced by Greek Tragedy with Michael as the tragic here. One of the strongest scenes in the entire trilogy occurs late in the 1st film with Vito telling Michael “I never wanted this for you…but I thought that, that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the string. Senator Corleone; Governor Corleone. Well, it wasn’t enough time, Michael”
Ultimately you can go back and forth, there probably is not a clear cut answer, still fun to debate of course.
If The Godfather Part III lived up to expectations (up to the level of its predecessors) is Coppola the GOAT? That might be 4 movies in the top 30-40-man.
@Matthew- Tough to say- there already is not much separating these great auteurs on the top tier- if FFC added another Godfather or Part II? Tough to beat at that point.
Loving that Bram “Stroker” typo lol. Your website is awesome!
@E – haha that is pretty funny- wish I could take credit for it being intentional
@Drake-What’s your thoughts and expectations for Ferrari(2023) and Megalopolis? Tbh, at one point I thought Michael Mann and Francis Ford Coppola were done making movies. They haven’t had a critical success in years. And the only film they did since 2010 were flops. Blackhat(2015) and Twixt(2011). But both these new films has Adam Driver(certainly one of the best actors working today) in the lead role and an interesting premise. Maybe a recipe for success. But I’m a bit sceptical and don’t know if Mann and Coppola can pull it off and maybe give us one of the best films of 2023/2024.
@Malith – Color me skeptical as well. I hope I’m wrong- but these would not be some of my most anticipated films of the year they’ll eventually released. My expectations would be closer to a Gilliam’s Don Quixote.
@Drake-Fair enough. But in recent years George Miller and Paul Schrader have revived their careers. And some of the most anticipated films have flopped this year. Like Amsterdam, The Son and Empire of Light. Maybe even Bardo(although this could be an underrated hit)
@Malith- 100%- and great examples with George Miller and Paul Schrader. I’m just saying if we’re betting on which films will end of as one of the 10 best of 2023- I would be more confident in Ari Aster or Yorgos Lanthimos and their 2023 films- even if Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Mann are historically the greater auteurs.
Drake, where did Francis rank in purely the filmography rankings?
@Matthew- I’d have to dig them up from the last update- but it was close to his overall ranking- certainly top 12-15.
I came across this article and interview on Coppola’s The Conversation (1974)
One of the answers that Coppola gives peaked my interest:
Do you think The Conversation owes a debt to Hitchcock?
Anyone who intends to make a film in the thriller genre is a student of Hitchcock. He invented it. I began to realize that the only way I could get the money to do this picture would be if it worked on some level other than just an inquiry into this man. I didn’t think that anybody would go see a movie that was just a mundane story of just a wiretapper. I felt, very early on, that it had to be a kind of horror film—a Hitchcockian horror film. I reviewed the Hitchcock films and tried to understand why they work so well.
Ultimately, I think I’m a lot different from Hitchcock in my approach. Hitchcock seems to be almost entirely interested in the design of his films. I’m much more interested in performances. I don’t care for most Hitchcock films because they’re terribly acted. My favorite Hitchcock films are the ones that are well acted, like The Wrong Man and Strangers on a Train. I identify much more with Clouzot, who works not only on a thriller level but has some other matter to his films. I remember, when I was in high school, Diabolique was showing. If anything, I would hope that The Conversation would have that kind of effect.
Curious on your thoughts on this particularly the 2nd paragraph
@James Trapp- Yeah that’s interesting- when was this interview? Coppola and Hitchcock were working at the same time for the final portion of Hitchcock’s career so maybe he is referring to some of those films- but on the whole, he is wrong here
@Drake – sorry I meant to post the link, I pasted it below. The interview appears to be from the year the film came out, 1974. I really like this site, Cinephilia, they have lots of great analysis and interviews
@James Trapp- Gotcha- I think his comment would make more sense given the context of the time. Thank you for the share.