The film is Francis Ford Coppola’s screen version of Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” the year’s first satisfying, big ‘commercial American film, a sort of popular‐priced, Long Beach version of “Rocco and His Brothers” (even to the inclusion of an eclectic, romantic 19401sh Nino Rota score), a movie that describes a sorrowful American Dream as a slambang, sentimental gangster melodrama. It opens here Wednesday at Loew’s State One and Two, the Cine, the Orpheum and the Tower East Theaters.
Brando’s role is that of Don Vito Corleone, the ageing Mafia chief who remains a fearsome, rudely magnificent creature even though his hair has thinned, his jowls have thickened, his belly has dropped, and his walk is not always steady, like a man searching for— firm footing across a swamp. This is not only because the emotions if surcharged, are genuine and fundamental, but also becau3e we’re watching a fine actor exercise his talent for what looks like the great joy of it, because, after all, it’s there.
“The Godfather” moves so quickly, in such a tightly organized series of interlocking events, that the film, like its characters (who are not the sort of musing very long about their fates), doesn’t have time to be introspective—to betray the excitement of the immediately felt emotion or of an explicit action by somehow commenting on it.
In this respect, the film is very much like the novel, which Coppola and Puzo have adapted for the screen with extraordinary fidelity — yet the film has a life that completely eluded me in the novel. I suppose I should admit here that although “The Godfather” has sold almost as well as The Bible, I was only able to get through it by making those little 30‐and 40paragraph hops one usually reserves for the perusal of the Congressional Record. The novel is a kind of the first draft—an outline of characters and an inventory of happenings—that has only now been finished as a film (which, I suspect, Puzo knew would be true all along).