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Francis Ford Coppola's choice of composer Nino Rota for The Godfather Parts I and II was a stroke of genius on the director's part. For 25 years leading up to the first film, Rota defined the sound of Italian cinema in 8 ½, La Strada, Rocco and His Brothers, The Leopard, The Nights of Cabiria, and La Dolce Vita. For a period, it seemed as if every great film coming out of Italy had to have a Rota score. Yet The Godfather wasn't just good-intentioned gimmickry. Indeed, for some, The Godfather showcases Rota at his best. The longtime Fellini collaborator was nominated for an Academy Award for the first one; then took home the gold statuette for the second. The only reason he didn't make music for The Godfather Part III is that he died a decade before that film was even made.
Listen to Rota's lush orchestrations when The Godfather airs with The Godfather II this afternoon on AMC at 1:30 PM | 12:30C. For the complete schedule of the Godfather films on AMC, click here.