“Films do a have a tendency to live a long time, and sometimes they even change the audiences so that [viewers] 10 years from now are affected by more unusual films,” Francis Coppola remarked last Monday night at Manhattan’s Paris theatre after a screening of Youth Without Youth. “In fact, I can remember in my own career reading the reviews of the first Godfather film. Even our friends here at Variety gave it a terrible review.”
Really? A terrible review to an all-time classic by the entertainment industry’s leading trade? I did a search and found A.D. Murphy‘s review, published on 3.8.72, and Coppola, it turns out, was exaggerating. Murphy was not a huge fan and was obviously dismayed, but what he wrote was not a savage pan.
“With several million hardcover and paperback books acting as trailers, Paramount’s film version of Mario Puzo’s sprawling gangland novel, ‘The Godfather,’ has a large pre-sold audience,” Murphy began. “This will bolster the potential for the film which has an outstanding performance by Al Paclno and a strong characterization by Marlon Brando in title role. It also has excellent production values, flashes of excitement, and a well-picked cast.
“But it is also overlong at about 175 minutes (played without intermission), and occasionally confusing. While never so placid as to be boring, it is never so gripping as to be superior screen drama. This should not mar Paramount’s b.o. expectations in any measure, though some filmgoers may be disappointed.”