While this is the first sequel to win a Best Picture Oscar, it’s actually more groundbreaking in its use of time: Francis Ford Coppola’s followup to his Oscar-winning The Godfather is really both sequel and prequel. The film captures two different life paths. The young Vito Corleone (with Robert De Niro taking on Marlon Brando’s original role) rises within the mob in flashbacks while the present action follows Vito’s son Michael (Al Pacino). For Michael the film is a descent as the best and the brightest of the Corleones becomes a bitter, ruthless shell of himself. The two films together form a telling inversion of the American immigration saga, tracing a family’s rise from poverty to power in a business whose corruption mirrors the worlds of business and politics. Among those returning from the original are Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, and, briefly, James Caan. Most notable of the new cast was renowned acting teacher Lee Strasberg, who came out of retirement to play Hyman Roth.
Dir. Francis Ford Coppola