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Which Godfather Movie Is Al Pacino’s Favorite?

Which Godfather Movie Is Al Pacino's Favorite?


  • The Godfather
    and its sequel are perfect companion pieces, exploring the dynamics of the mafia through the Corleones’ rise and fall.
  • Al Pacino prefers
    The Godfather
    over the sequels for its storytelling and entertainment value, as Michael’s journey unfolds in a gripping way.
  • While
    The Godfather Part III
    may have faced criticism, the overall trilogy is seen as a cinematic masterpiece that continues to hold up today.

In 1972, Francis Ford Coppola changed Hollywood history when, alongside Paramount Pictures, he released a film that would rock the entire industry as it portrayed a different side of humanity trapped in a hazy underworld of crime. The Godfather, based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, starred Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and Robert Duvall, among others. The film tells the story of Vito Corleone (Brando), a mafia boss who must pass along the family’s leadership to his reluctant son, Michael (Pacino). The Godfather received 11 Oscar nominations, winning Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

But just two years later, Coppola did the impossible. He made a continuation of Michael’s journey in the form of The Godfather Part II and managed to make a film that, yes, in some ways, is superior to the first. The film follows Michael’s transformation into a cold-blooded leader and explores Vito’s origins in Italy. It was also an Oscar winner, with Coppola taking both the Best Picture and Best Director awards that year, in addition to wins in several other categories.

Naturally, the endless discussion started quickly. Which film is the best? Which one did people like more? Which one flawlessly depicted the dynamics of the mafia? However, the two films are perfect companion pieces to each other. Considering this, it’s uncanny how Coppola’s experiment, The Godfather Saga, isn’t more successful with modern audiences, as the franchise was edited into a miniseries that chronologically told the events of the films. Versions vary (with scenes that had to be cut for TV broadcasts), but can you imagine more than 500 minutes of the Corleones’ rise and fall?

But in any case, if you must decide which one is better and don’t exactly know what to pick, Al Pacino may provide some help. Yes, it’s controversial, as every fan has their favorite, but many may agree with the actor who played the lead role. The Godfather, the first part of the epic, is Pacino’s favorite film in the trilogy, and the reason why may surprise you.

The following article may contain spoilers.

Why The Godfather Is Al Pacino’s Favorite Film in the Trilogy

In previous interviews, Pacino, one of Hollywood’s most influential performers, has answered the question about which Godfather film is the best. He doesn’t prefer Part II over Coppola’s 1972 masterpiece. He recognizes it may be more artistic and perhaps better made, but he prefers The Godfather over The Godfather Part II.

Needless to say, many fans will agree with him, as the film feels like a better adaptation of the concept, whereas the sequel is definitely a darker rendition of Michael’s nature. In The Godfather, it feels inevitable and chaotic, but in Part II, you can feel the moral compass is already tilted to one side, and there’s no getting out. Pacino told David Rubenstein during the “People Who Inspire Us Series,” per The Hollywood Reporter,

“No, I don’t. I really think [The Godfather Part II is] more — what would you call it — artistic or something, I don’t know. I don’t mean to play it down and be overly modest because I star in it with Bob de Niro, but at the same time, it’s a different film.”

Al Pacino Is All for ‘Entertainment’

In his declaration for the series “People Who Inspire Us,” Pacino adds that The Godfather is a more entertaining film because it doesn’t let go at any moment to let you take a break. Michael’s ascent at the same speed as Vito’s personal downfall is eerie, to say the least, but Coppola does a great job injecting a sense of inevitability into the story, and Michael’s progression makes for a great character progression that will always go down as the perfect realization of “evil overcomes good.”


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In terms of storytelling techniques and execution, there’s arguably nothing better than The Godfather, and Pacino fully agrees—at least in the trilogy that concluded in 1990 with the underrated conclusion film, The Godfather Part III. As Pacino put it,

“You see,
The Godfather
is more entertaining.
Godfather II
is this study, this personal thing for Francis [Ford Coppola].
Godfather I
, I saw it recently, it’s always got two or three things going on in a scene. You’re always in the story, you’re going. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, it’s storytelling, it’s really storytelling at its best.
Godfather II
sort of linearizes, and [it’s] kind of different, somber, moves slowly. But it’s a great movie, I have to say.”

The Godfather Was Al Pacino’s Breakthrough Film

Though it wasn’t Pacino’s first big role in an important film, and though he never won an Academy Award for his role as Michael Corleone, the legacy of his performance in The Godfather speaks for itself. It was his breakthrough film and the one that launched his entire career. Ironically, his performance in Part II may be better by acting standards, but Michael is arguably a better-written character in the first film.


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However, where is The Godfather Part III in this conversation? Although it was nominated on Oscar night, many expected Pacino to be nominated, especially after he didn’t win for Part II. But the Academy didn’t exactly love it, and this was also visible in critics’ consideration. The film remains at a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a fairly low score for a Godfather film, and it has always been seen as a lesser sequel to the other films. This was remedied by The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, a re-cut version that took the score to 86% in 2020. More irony? Part III may have Pacino’s most grounded portrayal of Michael, as the film paints him as a beaten-down leader who can’t grasp whatever’s left in his control.

The Godfather Franchise

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score

The Godfather Part I

97% Critic Score

98% Audience Score

The Godfather Part II

96% Critic Score

97% Audience Score

The Godfather Part III

66% Critic Score

67% Audience Score

The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

86% Critic Score

85% Audience Score

So, while Al Pacino may prefer The Godfather over both sequels because he believes it’s a better movie, one thing’s for sure: sometimes stories work better if they’re seen as a whole, and perhaps the discussion of which Godfather film is better is actually unnecessary. Michael’s story and that of the Corleones’ descent are much more interesting if you navigate through all of Coppola’s films and are not forced to decide which one is better, as, at least, most fans would agree the first two films are cinematic masterpieces that continue to hold up today. All the films in The Godfather trilogy can be streamed on Paramount+.


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