So I'm holed up at home, trying to stay warm, and preparing to talk about The Godfather with my Mavericks of the 70s American Cinema class tomorrow (assuming the ice melts).
What can you say about The Godfather? Since I'm half-Italian and grew up in a family that embraced its Italian heritage (which happens when it's your mother's family that's Italian), The Godfather is almost like a home movie for me. Not that anyone I know was in the mob, of course. But growing up in Staten Island, one of our neighbors was the son of a noted mobster, and besides, The Godfather put a lot of Italian culture on the screen. Watching it, I remember my grandparents, and my mother's recipe for sauce (which is not dissimilar from Clemenza's).
And after all, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli" is one of the great lines in movie history. To me, that line defines the movie more than the classic "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." The latter line is all about the Corleone's power (an important image, no doubt); the former contains within it the family's brutality mixed with its humanity -- which is why I think it conveys the films themes so efficiently.