• Joseph F. Berenato

The Godfather celebrates its 50th anniversary


James Caan, Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Cappola, Al Pacino and John Cazale on set of The Godfather. (Courtesy Photo)

On March 24, The Godfather will turn 50 years old.


Hailed as one of the greatest motion pictures ever made and based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo, The Godfather follows the Corleone crime family as it fights to maintain and expand its power in the 1940s and 1950s.


Part of the appeal of The Godfather over the last five decades is that the criminal element of the film plays second fiddle to its familial aspects. Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) leads the family—both criminal and traditional—supported by his sons, Sonny (James Caan) and Fredo (John Cazale) and his adopted son, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). His youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino), initially wants nothing to do with his father’s business, though circumstances soon force him to become entrenched in the world he swore to avoid.


Family importance rings throughout the film, from the immediate—the film opens with the wedding of Vito Corleone’s daughter, Connie (Talia Shire) and climaxes during the baptism of her child—to the extended—Vito’s godson, Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) needs his godfather’s help, a request which is not refused.


The Godfather is a lush motion picture, rich with period scenery that takes filmgoers from 1940s New York City to post-war Sicily and to 1950s Las Vegas. The performances by the cast are inspired, the music is haunting and instantly recognizable and the story is one for the ages. Themes of love, honor, sacrifice, betrayal and loss create an experience that has kept viewers entranced with the film since 1972.


The Godfather was an immediate hit with moviegoers of that era, earning three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (for Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, who also directed the film) and Best Actor for Brando (which he refused).


Its 1974 sequel, The Godfather Part II, earned six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (for Robert DeNiro as a young Vito Corleone). The trilogy’s coda, The Godfather Part III, released in 1990, received seven Oscar nominations but won none.


To celebrate The Godfather’s 50th anniversary, Paramount Pictures—which produced the film and its two sequels—is making several offers that fans can’t refuse.


To start, they will be rereleasing a version of the The Godfather that has been fully remastered and restored in 4K UHD with HDR-10 and Dolby Vision. The film will be released in AMC theaters for one night only on February 25. Locally, The Godfather will be playing at 6 p.m. at the AMC Cherry Hill 24, located at 2121 Route 38 in Cherry Hill, N.J.


One month later, on March 22, Paramount will be releasing a boxed set of the trilogy, the latest in a line of releases that started with a chronological recut—The Godfather 1902–1959: The Complete Epic—in 1981 that was updated to include the third film in 1992. The entire trilogy was first released on home video in 1992, then on DVD in 2001—and received a facelift in 2008 with The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. More recently, The Godfather Part III was recut and released as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone in 2020 to mark that film’s 30th anniversary.


Now, The Godfather 50th Anniversary Trilogy 4K Blu-ray Box Set incorporates the 50th anniversary rerelease of the film as well as its sequels and represents more than 4,000 hours spent repairing film and more than 1,000 hours spent on color correction—all overseen by Coppola to ensure the highest-quality viewing experience yet. The 4K boxed set will also include the original theatrical version of Part III, an extended version from 1991 and the 30th anniversary recut.


The 50th anniversary celebration will continue with “The Offer” on Paramount+. This 10-episode series will follow the struggles of producer Albert S. Ruddy (Miles Teller) as he works to adapt The Godfather for the silver screen.


Matthew Goode also stars as producer Robert Evans—along with Dan Fogler as Coppola, Patrick Gallo as Puzo, Justin Chambers as Marlon Brando and Giovanni Ribisi as real-life crime boss Joe Colombo, whose Italian-American Civil Rights League protested the production of the film.


“The Offer” premieres on April 28.


The Godfather has been captivating audiences since its release in 1972, and—if these anniversary celebrations are any indication—it shows no signs of stopping. Tickets for the theatrical rerelease are now on sale, and preorders for the home releases are now being taken.


For more information about the film, visit facebook.com/thegodfather/.