The Godfather is a 1972 American crime drama directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy, based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel of the same name. It stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York crime family. The story, spanning 1945 to 1955, chronicles the family under the patriarch Vito Corleone, focusing on the transformation of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.
Paramount Pictures obtained the rights to the novel before it gained popularity for the price of $80,000. Studio executives had trouble finding a director, as their first few candidates turned down the position. They and Coppola disagreed over who would play several characters, in particular Vito and Michael. Filming was done on location and completed earlier than scheduled. The musical score was composed primarily by Nino Rota with additional pieces by Carmine Coppola.
The film was the highest-grossing film of 1972 and was for a time the highest-grossing film ever made. It won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Puzo and Coppola). Its seven other Oscar nominations included Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall for Best Supporting Actor and Coppola for Best Director. It was followed by sequels The Godfather Part II (1974) and Part III (1990).
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinema and one of the most influential, especially in the gangster genre. It was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1990, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and is ranked the second-greatest film in American cinema (behind Citizen Kane) by the American Film Institute.