The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola

A film generally regarded to be among the greatest ever finally surfaces as a single DVD. Film fanatics wary of purchasing 2001's The Godfather DVD Collection, which gathered all three cinematic instalments of the Corleone family's rise and fall from power, will delight in this edition of the trilogy's stunning springboard. While the film remains as timeless and influential as ever, with director Francis Ford Coppola's commentary track serving as the sole special feature, this DVD might seem antiquated to some expecting a plethora of extra scenes and bonus footage. Coppola's insights are so revealing, however, that they offer far more to aficionados than any footage of Marlon Brando ribbing his co-stars or Robert Duvall mooning his fellow actors during takes ever could. Coppola wastes no time in educating viewers, admitting in the opening credits that much of the success rests upon the late Mario Puzo's fictional chronicle of the life of Don Vito Corleone. It's a testament to the book that Coppola stuck so close to the original text, returning to its form in post-production even after tinkering with it while shooting. The famous opening of Corleone in his darkened den, hearing out a vengeful undertaker on the day of his daughter's wedding was a friend's suggestion; Coppola wanted to open with the light-filled wedding instead. The sequence featuring Luca Brasi nervously rehearsing congratulatory words for his Don was included because former pro-wrestler-turned-actor Lenny Montana kept flubbing his scene with Brando (who playfully unnerved the brute by attaching a sign to his own forehead that read "Fuck You!"). Other notable revelations include the use of an actual horse's head procured from a dog food manufacturer in the film's most infamous scene and the true extent of Coppola's nepotism. Family members figure prominently throughout the production as extras and the director's father does an admirable job as the film's musical director. The Godfather is also daughter Sofia Coppola's acting debut, as she plays a newly-born baby boy being baptised (a preferable turn to her atrocious teenaged performance in The Godfather III). For all its glory, recollecting the making of the film is also a somewhat painful process for the director. Facing tremendous pressure and condescension from Paramount and executive producer Robert Evans form the beginning, the then 30-year-old Coppola felt as though he could be fired at any time. He was equally enraged and confounded by his employers' displeased reaction to rushes of the film and his voice still drips with bitterness at their lack of faith in what has become one of cinema's most celebrated visions. "Couldn't you see it fellas?," he asks rhetorically, "It was right there in front of you." Fortunately for DVD collectors, The Godfather is finally in front of them too. (Paramount)