NY Times Toasts 'The Godfather,' New York

From NYTimes.com:

Some of you may consider this an offer you can refuse, but others will want to note an event of enduring cultural import that took place 40 years ago Thursday. “The Godfather,” a film as firmly rooted in New York as Manhattan schist, opened that day in five theaters around the city.

Ever since, a significant portion of the American population, certainly the male component, has gone around talking about how it’s time to go to the mattresses; how this or that is strictly business, not personal; and how it’s advisable to leave the gun and take the cannoli.

Catch phrases aside, the anniversary of the 1972 Francis Ford Coppolamasterpiece is a moment to appreciate New York’s centrality in American cinema. No other place compares, not by a long shot.

Relying on the collective judgment of movie historians and critics, the American Film Institute compiled what it calls the 100 greatest movies ever. Lists of this sort always provide fuel for barroom and dining-table arguments. Nonetheless, more than a quarter of the movies, 27, were set in this city, entirely or in part. They include three of the top four: “Citizen Kane” (eternally No. 1), “The Godfather” (No. 2) and “Raging Bull” (No. 4).

(No. 3 is “Casablanca,” which is being revived for its 70th anniversary. Some 500 theaters across the country, including several in the city, plan special showings next Wednesday. Though set in Morocco, it has its own New York element — when the Bogart character tells a Nazi officer, “There are certain sections of New York, major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.” It was sound advice in 1942. Still is.)

Some of the 27 films set in the city were produced on sound stages, but most were shot on location. Our streets are visually irresistible, even as all too many of them become Duane Readed, Starbucksed and Chase Banked.

Mr. Coppola certainly used them to advantage.

The Corleone family compound, supposedly on Long Island, was actually in the Emerson Hill section of Staten Island. Luca Brasi, he who winds up sleeping with the you-know-what, is stabbed in the Edison Hotel. Michael Corleone makes his bones as a hitman at a restaurant in the Bronx. He and Kay stay at the St. Regis Hotel. There are shots of East Harlem, Mott Street, Radio City Music Hall and the old Best & Co. store on Fifth Avenue.

Read the rest: A Day to Toast 'The Godfather,' and New York - NYTimes.com

Read original movie review from 1972: Movie Review - The Godfather - NYTimes.com