Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire

Domestic lifetime gross (adjusted for inflation, 2014): $626,025,500

Famous quote: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." — Don Corleone

The Godfather came into this world, in the form of Mario Puzo's novel, as pulp. In a feat of creative alchemy arguably unsurpassed before or since, Coppola and his collaborators turned the Mafia melodrama into popular art that satisfies on every possible level -- as a family drama, a crime saga, a visual and musical ravishment and an impeccable evocation of a historical period.

Godfather is 42 years old, meaning anyone who saw it when it came out in 1972 is pushing 60 or older. This suggests its narrative power, extraordinary performances and mythic values register as strongly for younger viewers as they did at the time. The film also happens to stand at the precise midpoint between the arrival of sound films and the present. It is both classical and modern, traditional in its storytelling and contemporary in its critical perspective. It's a film that does it all. — Todd McCarthy

Box-office totals courtesy of