Whether it be fans, critics, actors or filmmakers, rarely has one film gotten similar reactions from people who are in agreement about its brilliance.
And that’s exactly what’s gone down in the 50 years since Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather premiered in theaters across the U.S.
In honor of the 50th anniversary, leading man Al Pacino, who played eventual head of the Corleone family Michael Corleone, and Robert De Niro, who portrayed the young version of his father Vito Corleone in the sequel, attended a special tribute and screening at the Tribeca Festival in New York City.
Classic: Robert De Niro, 78, and Al Pacino, 82, took part in a special 50th anniversary tribute and screening of The Godfather at the Tribeca Festival in New York City
The Tribeca Festival, an annual film festival organized by Tribeca Productions and co-founded by De Niro, screened a restoration of the film on Thursday night.
Ahead of showtime at the United Palace, Pacino sat down on stage with Michael Hainey to discuss the movie, which earned 10 Academy Award nominations, and its lasting impact.
At the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, the iconic crime film won the coveted Best Picture award, along with Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola).
Classic: The Godfather (1972), starring Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan and John Cazale is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever
Fate: Pacino, 82, had only had one film on his resume when Francis Ford Coppola approached him about playing Michael Corleone
Revered: Pacino discussed the lasting impact of The Godfather with Michael Hainey at the Tribeca Festival in New York City on Thursday
Over these five decades since its release, the film has received universal acclaim from critics and audiences alike, with praise for the performances, and in particular Brando, Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, Coppola’s directing, the screenplay by Coppola and Puzo, cinematography, editing, and the music score.
Dressed in all black, consisting of blazer, pants, t-shirt, scarf and sneakers, the 82-year-old Pacino talked about his life as an actor leading up to the shoot for The Godfather and the aftermath.
He was just 31 and only had one film on his resume when Coppola approached him about playing Michael Corleone. The character’s arc is about as good as it gets for an actor: going from shy son and reluctant family outsider who served his country honorably in World War II, to unsuspecting hitman, and eventually the ruthless mob boss of the Corleone family.
It became the highest-grossing film of 1972, and for a time it was the highest-grossing film ever made, earning between $246 and $287 million at the box office.
Light moment: De Niro and Pacino shared a few laughs while posing for photographers
Legends: As part of the festival’s special screening, De Niro joined Pacino on the red carpet, considering he played such a pivotal role as the younger Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974)
The follow-up: De Niro starred as a young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974), speaking Italian for most of his performance
As part of the festival’s special screening, De Niro joined Pacino on the red carpet, considering he played such a pivotal role as the younger Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974).
The two iconic actors stood side-by-side momentarily as photographers snapped away.
Normally one to be apprehensive and uncomfortable when dealing with media events such as this, De Niro flashed several smiles while dressed casually in black pants with a dark blue blazer over a light blue top.
At times, both stars could be seen laughing and beaming smiles while they chatted between themselves under the red carpet spotlight.
Star power: The two iconic actors stood side-by-side momentarily as photographers snapped away
Acclaimed: The three Godfather films earned 28 Academy Awards nominations
Historic: The Godfather Part II is the first sequel to have won a Best Picture Oscar
Although The Godfather II (1974) did not surpass the original film commercially, it did go on to become Paramount Pictures’ highest-grossing film of 1974, ultimately earning $93 million at the world wide box office on a $13 million budget.
It served as both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather (1972) by weaving back and forth between the aftermath of the original movie and the backstory as to how and why Vito Corleone immigrated from Sicily to the U.S., and his rise as the founder of his family enterprise in New York City.
The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning six of them, including Best Picture, which was a first for a sequel, as well as Best Director for Coppola and Best Supporting Actor for De Niro, who mostly spoke Italian, with subtitles, during his performance.
While not nearly as regarded as its two predecessors, The Godfather Part III (1990) received seven Academy Award nominations, en route to grossing $136.8 million at the box office behind a $54 million budget.
In hindsight, amid several 50th anniversary tributes this year, Pacino says he ‘deeply honored’ for all the praise and accolades bestowed on The Godfather, and that he was ‘so fortunate’ to have landed the role of Michael Corleone, although it has taken him ‘a lifetime to accept it and move on.’
Tributes: Pacino, Coppola and De Niro have taken part in 50th anniversary tributes this year, including at the 94th Academy Awards in Los Angeles in March