Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1972: The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)
I once read a quote from Steven Spielberg in which he said that he would never make a movie as perfect as The Godfather. I never understood why he would say that, but I certainly can’t argue against the greatness of Coppola’s film. It simply does so many things right.
It has tremendous performances. Pacino, Duvall, Brando, Caan, Cazale, Shire–all at the top of their game. It has a perfect score in addition to its perfect lighting, editing, shot selection, camera movement and production design. It has some of the most memorable lines and scenes in the history of the medium. And it seems perfectly scaled to fit its themes, its desired effect and its wonderfully crafted story.
Pauline Kael described The Godfather as “movie art” in her 1972 review of the film, and I’ve always felt it to be as great a hybrid as we’ve ever had of depth and entertainment. It’s a tremendous achievement, and it serves as a model for all of us who want an audience to not only see our films, but be spoken to by them as well.
What moviemakers can learn: Always be on the lookout for new faces. Although household names today, at the time Coppola really took a chance by casting the relatively-unknown James Caan, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Al Pacino and Robert Duvall.
Other contenders for 1972: I still have a few titles from this year I need to see, including Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Maurice Pialat’s We Won’t Grow Old Together (Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble). I need to revisit John Boorman’s Deliverance and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant), as it’s been too long since I’ve seen either of them to know where they’d place on this list. From this year, I really like Eric Rohmer’s Chloe in the Afternoon (L’amour l’après-midi). I love Bob Fosse’s Cabaret and Jean-Pierre Melville’s Un Flic, but my closest runner-up is Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes).
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril. (Image via Paramount Pictures)