The Godfather


2h 55m 1972
The Godfather

Brief Synopsis

Epic tale of a 1940s New York Mafia family and their struggle to protect their empire from rival families as the leadership switches from the father to his youngest son.

Film Details

Also Known As
Mario Puzo's The Godfather
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Mar 1972
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York City: 14 Mar 1972; New York opening: 15 Mar 1972
Production Company
Alfran Productions, Inc.; Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Viterbo, Italy; Forza d'Argo, Italy; Nevada, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Fiumefreddo, Italy; Palermo, Sicily, Italy; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Sicily, Italy; Taormina, Sicily, Italy; Marina de Cottone, Italy; Lunghezza, Italy; Sicily, Italy; Beverly Hills, California, United States; Las Vegas, Nevada, United States; New York, New York, United States; New York City, New York, United States; Sicily, Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo (New York, 1969).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 55m
Sound
DTS (re-release), Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In August 1945, during the lavish wedding reception of his daughter Connie, Don Vito Corleone, head of a large New York crime family and "godfather" to the Italian-American community, listens to requests for favors, honoring a long-standing Sicilian tradition that a father cannot refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day. While FBI agents jot down license plate numbers of the guests, and hundreds of celebrants dance, eat and gossip in the Corleone family's Long Beach compound, Don Vito, assisted by his foster son and consigliere , Tom Hagen, listens to a plea by the undertaker Bonasera, who seeks justice for two American boys who mercilessly beat his daughter. After mildly chastising Bonasera for refusing his friendship in the past, Don Vito agrees to help in exchange for some future service. Next, Don Vito greets the amiable baker Nazorine, who seeks help in preventing the deportation of Enzo, a young apprentice baker who wants to marry Nazorine's daughter. Outside, as the family welcomes guests such as crime boss Don Emilio Barzini and Don Vito's godson, popular singer Johnny Fontane, Michael Corleone arrives at his sister's wedding with his American girl friend, Kay Adams. Michael, college educated and a decorated soldier during World War II, relates stories about Luca Brasi, a large, violent man who is unquestioningly loyal to Don Vito, but tells her "It's my family, Kay, not me." In Don Vito's study, the final supplicant is Johnny, who cries that powerful studio head Jack Woltz refuses to give him an important part in a new war movie, even though it would be a perfect, career-saving role for him. After slapping Johnny like a child and admonishing him to be a man instead of a "Hollywood finocchio," Don Vito comforts him and promises to help. Just before his father-daughter dance with Connie, Don Vito talks with his son Santino, nicknamed Sonny, and Tom, telling them that Connie's new husband, Carlo Rizzi, may have a job, but should never be privy to the family's business. Don Vito also instructs Tom to fly to Los Angeles to speak with Woltz. At Woltz's studio, when Tom politely suggests that Johnny be cast in the war film, Woltz angrily dismisses him with curses and ethnic slurs. However, after Woltz has learned that Tom is representing the Corleone family, he invites Tom to his lavish estate and apologizes for his earlier rudeness. When the men sit down to dinner after Woltz has shown Tom his beloved race horse, Khartoum, Tom again asks for the part to be given to Johnny, prompting Woltz to erupt in a rage, shouting that Johnny "ruined" a young starlet with whom Woltz had been having an affair, thus making him appear ridiculous. One morning a short time later, Woltz discovers the severed, bloody head of Khartoum in his bed, prompting him to scream in terror. Back in New York, Don Vito is approached by Sollozzo "The Turk," a ruthless, Sicilian-born gangster who owns poppy fields in Turkey. Sollozzo, who has the backing of the rival Tattaglia family, proposes that the Corleones finance his drug operations. Although Tom and Sonny have argued that narcotics are the way of the future, and Sonny tries to say so in the meeting, Don Vito refuses to risk losing his political influence by embracing the drug traffic and declines Sollozzo's offer. Later, Don Vito privately asks Luca to let it be known to the Tattaglias that Luca might be interested in leaving the Corleones. Just before Christmas, when Luca meets with Sollozzo and one of the Tattaglias, he is caught off guard, stabbed through the hand and strangled. That same evening, Fredo, Don Vito's meek, oldest son, tells him that their driver, Paulie Gatto, has called in sick. Before entering his car, Don Vito decides to buy some fruit from a vendor and is shot several times by assailants who flee before Fredo can react. Tom is kidnapped by Sollozzo that night, and later, as Michael and Kay leave the Radio City Music Hall, Kay notices a newspaper headline announcing that Don Vito has been killed. Stunned, Michael immediately calls Sonny, who relates that their father is barely alive in the hospital and insists that Michael return to the safety of the family's Long Beach compound. Late that night, Tom is released by Sollozzo, who is infuriated that Don Vito has survived the attack, and warns Tom that he and Sonny must make the narcotics deal with him and the Tattaglias. At the compound, Sonny and Tom try to insulate Michael from their discussions about the family business, knowing that Don Vito had wanted him to have a different kind of life. While arguing over whether or not to take Sollozzo's deal, they receive a package of a dead fish, a Sicilian symbol that Luca "sleeps with the fishes." Now the hot-headed Sonny insists that there will be a war between the Corleones and the Tattaglias. Sonny tells Clemenza, one of his father's lieutenants, to buy mattresses and other supplies to house their men in a safe place during the war and instructs Clemenza to kill Paulie for his part in Don Vito's ambush. A few days later, frustrated by his enforced idleness, Michael goes into New York City to have dinner with Kay. After telling her that she should go home to New Hampshire, but not saying when they will see each other again, Michael goes to visit his father. When he finds the hospital floor deserted and Don Vito's room unguarded, Michael checks to make certain that his father is alive, then calls Sonny to relate what has happened. After moving Don Vito's bed with the help of a nurse, Michael whispers in his ear, "Pop, I'm with you now." Moments later, when the baker Enzo innocently arrives to pay his respects, Michael advises him to leave because there will be trouble, but Enzo enthusiastically offers to help. Michael and Enzo then wait on the steps of the hospital. Because of their menacing appearance, when a car stops, the thugs inside see what they think are Don Vito's guards and drive off. Just then, several police cars appear, and the abusive Capt. McCluskey starts yelling at Michael for interfering, then brutally punches him in the face before Sonny, Tom and their men arrive. The next day, Sonny argues that they must hit back at Sollozzo, even though the corrupt McCluskey is his protector. Because Sollozzo is now asking for a meeting with Michael, who is regarded as a "civilian," Michael volunteers to kill both Sollozzo and McCluskey. A bemused Sonny does not want Michael involved, and Tom argues that this is business, not personal, but Michael insists that to him it is business. When Sonny learns from a police informant that the meeting will be held at Louis, an Italian restaurant in the Bronx, Clemenza arranges for a gun to be planted in the men's room, then teaches Michael how to kill at close range. At the restaurant, Sollozzo offers a truce to Michael if the family agrees to his terms. After excusing himself to go to the men's room, Michael retrieves the gun from behind the toilet, walks to the table and shoots both McCluskey and Sollozzo in the head, then coolly walks out to a waiting car. To avoid being the victim of a revenge killing by the Tattaglias, Michael is forced to leave for Sicily for an extended period without saying goodbye to Kay. When Don Vito, who is now recuperating at home, hears that Michael killed Sollozzo and McCluskey, he weeps over Michael's involvement. While Michael is in Sicily, a wave of violence envelopes the Corleones, the Tattaglias and the other members of the five New York crime families. At the same time, Michael falls in love at first sight with a beautiful Sicilian girl, Apollonia, and soon marries her. Some time later, when a pregnant Connie hysterically calls home and tells Sonny that Carlo has beaten her, Sonny, who had previously warned Carlo never again to hit his sister, impulsively races away from the compound without waiting for his bodyguards. When he stops to pay a toll on the deserted highway, he is ambushed by several henchmen who riddle his body with bullets before speeding away. That night, after Tom reveals Sonny's death to his father, Don Vito says that the killing must now end and orders no more acts of vengeance. Later, he accompanies his son's body to Bonasera's, where he tearfully asks the undertaker to repay his debt by making Sonny presentable to his mother. Shortly thereafter, Don Tommasino, Michael's protector in Sicily, tells him of Sonny's death and says that he and Apollonia must leave for their own safety. As they are about to leave, Apollonia decides to surprise Michael by driving his car. Moments after Michael sees one of his bodyguards, Fabrizio, suspiciously run away, Apollonia dies when the car explodes. In New York, Don Vito has called a meeting of representatives of the five crime families of New York and New Jersey, asking for peace. After arguments on both sides, the families reach a peace and agree to enter the narcotics trade. As they are driving home from the meeting, Don Vito tells Tom he finally realized at the meeting that Barzini has always been behind the Tattaglias and was responsible for everything. Some time later, Michael goes to New Hampshire, where Kay has been teaching. Although he has been home for more than a year and not contacted her, he tells her that he loves her and asks her to marry him. She is reluctant, and does not understand why Michael now works for his father, but agrees because of her feelings for him and because he assures her that within five years, the Corleone family business will be completely legitimate. Soon Michael becomes the tacit head of the family as Don Vito semi-retires. Michael plans to sell the family's olive oil business, which had been a legitimate cover for their gambling and prostitution operations and become the sole owner of a Las Vegas casino. He sends Carlo to Las Vegas, as well as Tom, privately telling the disappointed Tom that there will be trouble at home and Tom is not a "wartime consigliere ." Weeks later, on a business trip to Las Vegas, Michael is annoyed that Fredo, who was sent to Las Vegas several years before, has let himself become subservient to Moe Greene, their partner in the casino. When Greene angrily refuses to sell his interest in the casino, Fredo sides with Greene, prompting Michael to warn him never again to side with someone outside the family. One afternoon, Don Vito warns Michael about Barzini and predicts that the person who suggests a meeting with Barzini will be a traitor setting Michael up to be killed. That same afternoon, while Don Vito plays with Anthony, Michael and Kay's three-year-old son, he has a fatal heart attack in his vegetable garden. At Don Vito's funeral, Salvatore Tessio, another Corleone family lieutenant, tells Michael that Barzini would like a meeting. Tom is surprised that Sal, rather than Clemenza, is the traitor, but Michael realizes that, for an ambitious man like Sal, it is the smart move. He then reveals that the meeting will be held after the baptism of Carlo and Connie's baby, also named Michael, for whom he has agreed to be godfather. While the baptismal ceremony takes place, Barzini, Tattaglia and several other Corleone enemies are gunned down in New York and Greene is killed in Las Vegas. At the compound, Tom confronts Sal, who says to tell Michael that it was only business, and resigns himself to his fate. That afternoon, Michael confronts Carlo, promising him leniency if he will just confess that he set Sonny up to be murdered. Though terrified, Carlo believes Michael and reveals that Barzini was behind it. Moments later, thinking that he will be driven to the airport, Carlo enters a car and is strangled from behind by Clemenza. When the Corleones are packing to move to Las Vegas, an hysterical Connie rushes into Don Vito's old study and accuses Michael of murdering Carlo. Kay tries to calm her down, but when she and Michael are alone, she asks if it is true. Michael initially erupts in anger, then says that, just this one time, Kay may ask him about his business, then answers "No," and the couple embrace. This satisfies Kay until she sees Clemenza kiss Michael's ring and address him as "Don Corleone," before his lieutenant, Neri, closes the study door.

Crew

A. E. Adams

Composer

Louis Alter

Composer

Johann Sebastian Bach

Composer

Robert Barth

Unit Coordinator, Oaktree Productions

Sass Bedig

Special Effects, Oaktree Productions

Irving Berlin

Composer

Ralph Blane

Composer

Tony Bowers

Loc Coordinator

Tony Brandt

Assistant Director, Sicilian unit

Michael Briggs

Loc Coordinator

Fred Caruso

Unit prod Manager, Oaktree Productions

Michael Chapman

Camera Operator

Gary Chazan

Assistant to prod

Paolo Citarella

Composer

Warren Clymer

Art Director

J. Fred Coots

Composer

Carmine Coppola

Composer

Carmine Coppola

Mall wedding seq

Francis Ford Coppola

Screenwriter

Valerio De Paolis

Prod Manager, Sicilian unit

Louis Digiaimo

Casting

Andrea Eastman

Casting

Ray Evans

Composer

Robert Evans

Executive Producer

Johnny Farrow

Composer

A. D. Flowers

Special Effects, Oaktree Productions

Gray Frederickson

Associate Producer

Douglas Furber

Composer

Fred Gallo

Assistant Director, Oaktree Productions

Haven Gillespie

Composer

Bud Grenzbach

Re-Recording

Anna Hill Johnstone

Costume Design

Steve Kesten

Assistant Director

Marc Laub

Addl Editor

Les Lazarowitz

Prod rec

Phil Leto

Hairstylist

Jay Livingston

Composer

Joe Lombardi

Special Effects, Oaktree Productions

Hugh Martin

Composer

Robert S. Mendelsohn

Executive Assistant

Walter Murch

Post prod consultant

Christopher Newman

Prod rec

George Newman

Wardrobe Supervisor

Richard Portman

Re-Recording

Marilyn Putnam

Women's Wardrobe

Mario Puzo

Screenwriter

William Reynolds

Editing

Philip Rhodes

Makeup

Fred Roos

Casting

Nino Rota

Music Composition

Albert S. Ruddy

Producer

Carlo Savina

Conductor

Steve Skloot

Assistant Director

Dick Smith

Makeup

Philip Smith

Set Decoration

Murray Solomon

Addl Editor

Marty Symes

Composer

Dean Tavoularis

Production Design

Nancy Tonery

Screenplay cont

Samuel Verts

Assistant art Director, Sicilian unit

Al Viola

Mandolin soloist

Gordon Willis

Director of Photography

Peter Zinner

Editing

Peter Zinner

Foreign post prod

Film Details

Also Known As
Mario Puzo's The Godfather
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Mar 1972
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York City: 14 Mar 1972; New York opening: 15 Mar 1972
Production Company
Alfran Productions, Inc.; Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Viterbo, Italy; Forza d'Argo, Italy; Nevada, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Fiumefreddo, Italy; Palermo, Sicily, Italy; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; New York City, New York, USA; Sicily, Italy; Taormina, Sicily, Italy; Marina de Cottone, Italy; Lunghezza, Italy; Sicily, Italy; Beverly Hills, California, United States; Las Vegas, Nevada, United States; New York, New York, United States; New York City, New York, United States; Sicily, Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo (New York, 1969).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 55m
Sound
DTS (re-release), Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Wins

Best Actor

1973
Marlon Brando

Best Picture

1973

Best Writing, Screenplay

1973
Francis Ford Coppola

Award Nominations

Best Costume Design

1973

Best Editing

1973

Best Music Original Dramatic Score

1973

Best Sound

1973

Articles

The Godfather


It's no exaggeration to say that Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) has moved beyond the realm of mere cinema to become a slice of American mythology. There are so many indelible moments in this movie, it's hard to believe that executives at Paramount Pictures originally envisioned it as a quickie gangster flick, an even pulpier interpretation of Mario Puzo's wildly popular pulp novel. The grandeur that informs every frame of The Godfather arose, in large part, from a rich screenplay that resonates on a wide variety of levels, but Coppola's unwavering passion for filmmaking was the glue that held it together. Throw in three or four of the finest screen performances of the 1970s, and this is one time that Hollywood wasn't able to screw up a good thing. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

Describing the plot of The Godfather almost seems redundant - no real film lover is unfamiliar with this movie. Coppola examines the closed-door dealings of Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), a pseudo-benevolent mafia chief who believes, often with guns drawn, that his family comes first. Set in New York and Sicily in the years following World War II, the narrative unfolds like a modern opera, with the Don's clean-cut son, Michael (Al Pacino), slowly becoming embroiled in the type of family business that he purports to detest. Michael, along with his hot-headed brother, Sonny (James Caan), and far more thoughtful adopted brother, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), will be inexorably pulled through a storyline that touches on America's attitudes toward loyalty, power, money, and violence. The Godfather is the very definition of a modern classic and, for once, it really is as good as everybody says it is.

Although he turned out to be the perfect man for the job, Coppola agreed to direct The Godfather for all the wrong reasons. After sinking too much money into scads of state-of-the-art film equipment, then producing George Lucas's box office disappointment, THX 1138 (1971), Coppola's experimental production company, American Zoetrope, was on the verge of financial collapse. On top of that, Coppola owed Warner Bros. $300,000, and had no way of paying them back. Although he initially felt that Puzo's novel was poorly written, he accepted Paramount's offer to film The Godfather simply because he needed the money. That was fine with Paramount - several name directors had already turned them down, and they basically approached Coppola because they knew he was Italian. After all, somebody had to direct it.

It was during a boat ride to Italy, where he would scout locations for part of the film, that Coppola began to notice The Godfather's rich subtext. More than just a gangster story, the narrative could also bear scrutiny as both a family drama and an examination of America's cut-throat corporate structure. (It's not without reason that the first line of dialogue in the film is a man solemnly intoning, "I believe in America.") Coppola's eye for the Big Story would eventually expand the project far beyond its middle-brow origins.

Coppola would fight battles of one form or another throughout the production, including a lengthy tussle with an organization known as the Italian-American Civic Rights League, which felt that The Godfather would somehow besmirch the character of law-abiding Italian citizens across the country. But some of Coppola's toughest moments came during casting, especially when Paramount's executives refused to hire the two actors he most wanted for the film - Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

Actually, the studio's position isn't all that hard to understand, if you can just erase your memory of the finished picture. Pacino had only made three movies at the time (two small roles in Me, Natalie and Out of It (both 1969) and the lead in The Panic in Needle Park [1971]), and even Coppola felt that Pacino dropped the ball when he forgot his dialogue during his audition. However, Coppola continued to support Pacino, and the producers relented, even though they felt that such big-name stars as Warren Beatty (!), Robert Redford (!!), or Burt Reynolds (!!!) better suited their needs. Still, it would be a while before the dust settled around Pacino. Paramount almost fired him several times in the early phase of filming. It wasn't until they saw the intense sequence in which Michael murders two men in an Italian restaurant that they knew they had a winner on their hands.

Then there was Brando. To say that Brando was disliked by film producers in 1971 would be a vast understatement. The actor seemed to honestly enjoy sabotaging his movies through carefully applied fits of boorish behavior, and he was utterly incapable of common graciousness. Mean-spirited, childish, intimidating...Brando could be a smorgasbord of pointless antagonism. Paramount President Stanley Jaffe grew so tired of hearing Coppola announce that Brando was the only person who could play Don Corleone, he eventually forbid the filmmaker to even broach the subject. Instead, everyone from Anthony Quinn to Ernest Borgnine to producer Carlo Ponti was suggested. At one point, even Danny Thomas expressed strong interest!

Even though his standing as the film's would-be director was now on very shaky ground, Coppola persisted in his defense of Brando. After several weeks of wrangling, it was decided that Brando could have the role, but only if he worked for a portion of the net profits (with no salary), and if he would agree to take a screen test. You know, just to make sure.

Realizing that Brando would never agree to an audition, and shouldn't be expected to, Coppola cooked up the kind of creative solution that's long been his hallmark as a filmmaker. He simply dropped by Brando's house one morning and videotaped the actor casually trying to 'find' the character. Coppola never told Brando that he was actually auditioning for the role while he experimented with various voices, postures, and old-man gestures. Jaffe and his cohorts were so blown away by Brando's on-tape transformation into Don Corleone, they couldn't wait for him to sign a contract. (It should be noted that, aside from a penchant for mooning the cast and crew, Brando was basically a gentleman throughout the shoot, and won an Oscar® for his trouble. He made a public fuss over refusing to accept it, of course, but that's a different story).

Casting aside, Coppola had to worry about keeping his own job once filming began. Paramount started to worry when the early rushes seemed far more somber than the type of picture they wanted to put on the market, and Coppola often seemed to be at a loss on the set. He and his brilliant cinematographer, Gordon Willis, were also at each other's throats on a regular basis. Coppola became convinced that some of his co-workers were spying on him, then reporting their findings to Paramount. No wonder he started to view the movie as a Shakespearean tragedy.

"Always remember three things," Coppola told an aspiring director while working on The Godfather. "Have the definitive script ready before you shoot. There'll always be some changes, but they should be small ones. Second, work with people you trust and feel secure with. Remember good crew people you've worked with on other films and get them for your film. Third, make your actors feel secure so they can do their job well." Then he paused, and added, "I've managed to do none of these things on this film."

A particular low point for Coppola came during, of all things, an innocent visit to the rest room. He was already having a tough day on the set, and was forced to contend with strong rumors that Paramount wanted to replace him with director Elia Kazan. While sitting in a stall, Coppola heard a couple of crew members enter the restroom to wash their hands. Not knowing who was beyond the nearest door, the men started venting about Coppola's apparent lack of competence. Embarrassed, Coppola lifted his feet off the floor so the disgruntled crew members wouldn't recognize his shoes.

Needless to say, the pieces eventually fell into place. The Godfather would go on to become the highest grossing film in motion picture history (at that time), easily outdistancing a southern-fried monolith called Gone with the Wind (1939). It would also be nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando), and Best Screenplay (Puzo and Coppola). The film spawned two sequels, and is considered by many people to be the single greatest picture of the 1970s. Certainly, it ranks among the top six or seven works of a masterpiece-heavy decade.

Producer: Albert S. Ruddy
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola (based on the novel by Mario Puzo)
Cinematography: Gordon Willis
Editing: William Reynolds, Peter Zinner, Marc Laub, Murray Solomon
Music: Nino Rota
Music Director: Carlo Savina
Production Design: Dean Tavoularis
Art Design: Warren Clymer
Special Effects: A.D. Flowers, Joe Lombardi, Dick Smith, Sass Bedig
Set Design: Philip Smith
Stunts: Paul Baxley
Costume Design: Anna Hill Johnstone
Makeup: Phil Rhodes
Cast: Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone), Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), James Caan (Sonny Corleone), Richard Castellano (Clemenza), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Sterling Hayden (McCluskey), John Marley (Jack Woltz), Richard Conte (Barzini), Diane Keaton (Kay Adams), Al Lettieri (Sollozzo), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), Talia Shire (Connie Rizzi), Gianni Russo (Carlo Rizzi), Al Martino (Johnny Fontane), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Lenny Montana (Luca Brasi), Alex Rocco (Moe Greene).
C-175m.

by Paul Tatara
The Godfather

The Godfather

It's no exaggeration to say that Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972) has moved beyond the realm of mere cinema to become a slice of American mythology. There are so many indelible moments in this movie, it's hard to believe that executives at Paramount Pictures originally envisioned it as a quickie gangster flick, an even pulpier interpretation of Mario Puzo's wildly popular pulp novel. The grandeur that informs every frame of The Godfather arose, in large part, from a rich screenplay that resonates on a wide variety of levels, but Coppola's unwavering passion for filmmaking was the glue that held it together. Throw in three or four of the finest screen performances of the 1970s, and this is one time that Hollywood wasn't able to screw up a good thing. But it wasn't for lack of trying. Describing the plot of The Godfather almost seems redundant - no real film lover is unfamiliar with this movie. Coppola examines the closed-door dealings of Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), a pseudo-benevolent mafia chief who believes, often with guns drawn, that his family comes first. Set in New York and Sicily in the years following World War II, the narrative unfolds like a modern opera, with the Don's clean-cut son, Michael (Al Pacino), slowly becoming embroiled in the type of family business that he purports to detest. Michael, along with his hot-headed brother, Sonny (James Caan), and far more thoughtful adopted brother, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), will be inexorably pulled through a storyline that touches on America's attitudes toward loyalty, power, money, and violence. The Godfather is the very definition of a modern classic and, for once, it really is as good as everybody says it is. Although he turned out to be the perfect man for the job, Coppola agreed to direct The Godfather for all the wrong reasons. After sinking too much money into scads of state-of-the-art film equipment, then producing George Lucas's box office disappointment, THX 1138 (1971), Coppola's experimental production company, American Zoetrope, was on the verge of financial collapse. On top of that, Coppola owed Warner Bros. $300,000, and had no way of paying them back. Although he initially felt that Puzo's novel was poorly written, he accepted Paramount's offer to film The Godfather simply because he needed the money. That was fine with Paramount - several name directors had already turned them down, and they basically approached Coppola because they knew he was Italian. After all, somebody had to direct it. It was during a boat ride to Italy, where he would scout locations for part of the film, that Coppola began to notice The Godfather's rich subtext. More than just a gangster story, the narrative could also bear scrutiny as both a family drama and an examination of America's cut-throat corporate structure. (It's not without reason that the first line of dialogue in the film is a man solemnly intoning, "I believe in America.") Coppola's eye for the Big Story would eventually expand the project far beyond its middle-brow origins. Coppola would fight battles of one form or another throughout the production, including a lengthy tussle with an organization known as the Italian-American Civic Rights League, which felt that The Godfather would somehow besmirch the character of law-abiding Italian citizens across the country. But some of Coppola's toughest moments came during casting, especially when Paramount's executives refused to hire the two actors he most wanted for the film - Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Actually, the studio's position isn't all that hard to understand, if you can just erase your memory of the finished picture. Pacino had only made three movies at the time (two small roles in Me, Natalie and Out of It (both 1969) and the lead in The Panic in Needle Park [1971]), and even Coppola felt that Pacino dropped the ball when he forgot his dialogue during his audition. However, Coppola continued to support Pacino, and the producers relented, even though they felt that such big-name stars as Warren Beatty (!), Robert Redford (!!), or Burt Reynolds (!!!) better suited their needs. Still, it would be a while before the dust settled around Pacino. Paramount almost fired him several times in the early phase of filming. It wasn't until they saw the intense sequence in which Michael murders two men in an Italian restaurant that they knew they had a winner on their hands. Then there was Brando. To say that Brando was disliked by film producers in 1971 would be a vast understatement. The actor seemed to honestly enjoy sabotaging his movies through carefully applied fits of boorish behavior, and he was utterly incapable of common graciousness. Mean-spirited, childish, intimidating...Brando could be a smorgasbord of pointless antagonism. Paramount President Stanley Jaffe grew so tired of hearing Coppola announce that Brando was the only person who could play Don Corleone, he eventually forbid the filmmaker to even broach the subject. Instead, everyone from Anthony Quinn to Ernest Borgnine to producer Carlo Ponti was suggested. At one point, even Danny Thomas expressed strong interest! Even though his standing as the film's would-be director was now on very shaky ground, Coppola persisted in his defense of Brando. After several weeks of wrangling, it was decided that Brando could have the role, but only if he worked for a portion of the net profits (with no salary), and if he would agree to take a screen test. You know, just to make sure. Realizing that Brando would never agree to an audition, and shouldn't be expected to, Coppola cooked up the kind of creative solution that's long been his hallmark as a filmmaker. He simply dropped by Brando's house one morning and videotaped the actor casually trying to 'find' the character. Coppola never told Brando that he was actually auditioning for the role while he experimented with various voices, postures, and old-man gestures. Jaffe and his cohorts were so blown away by Brando's on-tape transformation into Don Corleone, they couldn't wait for him to sign a contract. (It should be noted that, aside from a penchant for mooning the cast and crew, Brando was basically a gentleman throughout the shoot, and won an Oscar® for his trouble. He made a public fuss over refusing to accept it, of course, but that's a different story). Casting aside, Coppola had to worry about keeping his own job once filming began. Paramount started to worry when the early rushes seemed far more somber than the type of picture they wanted to put on the market, and Coppola often seemed to be at a loss on the set. He and his brilliant cinematographer, Gordon Willis, were also at each other's throats on a regular basis. Coppola became convinced that some of his co-workers were spying on him, then reporting their findings to Paramount. No wonder he started to view the movie as a Shakespearean tragedy. "Always remember three things," Coppola told an aspiring director while working on The Godfather. "Have the definitive script ready before you shoot. There'll always be some changes, but they should be small ones. Second, work with people you trust and feel secure with. Remember good crew people you've worked with on other films and get them for your film. Third, make your actors feel secure so they can do their job well." Then he paused, and added, "I've managed to do none of these things on this film." A particular low point for Coppola came during, of all things, an innocent visit to the rest room. He was already having a tough day on the set, and was forced to contend with strong rumors that Paramount wanted to replace him with director Elia Kazan. While sitting in a stall, Coppola heard a couple of crew members enter the restroom to wash their hands. Not knowing who was beyond the nearest door, the men started venting about Coppola's apparent lack of competence. Embarrassed, Coppola lifted his feet off the floor so the disgruntled crew members wouldn't recognize his shoes. Needless to say, the pieces eventually fell into place. The Godfather would go on to become the highest grossing film in motion picture history (at that time), easily outdistancing a southern-fried monolith called Gone with the Wind (1939). It would also be nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando), and Best Screenplay (Puzo and Coppola). The film spawned two sequels, and is considered by many people to be the single greatest picture of the 1970s. Certainly, it ranks among the top six or seven works of a masterpiece-heavy decade. Producer: Albert S. Ruddy Director: Francis Ford Coppola Screenplay: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola (based on the novel by Mario Puzo) Cinematography: Gordon Willis Editing: William Reynolds, Peter Zinner, Marc Laub, Murray Solomon Music: Nino Rota Music Director: Carlo Savina Production Design: Dean Tavoularis Art Design: Warren Clymer Special Effects: A.D. Flowers, Joe Lombardi, Dick Smith, Sass Bedig Set Design: Philip Smith Stunts: Paul Baxley Costume Design: Anna Hill Johnstone Makeup: Phil Rhodes Cast: Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone), Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), James Caan (Sonny Corleone), Richard Castellano (Clemenza), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Sterling Hayden (McCluskey), John Marley (Jack Woltz), Richard Conte (Barzini), Diane Keaton (Kay Adams), Al Lettieri (Sollozzo), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), Talia Shire (Connie Rizzi), Gianni Russo (Carlo Rizzi), Al Martino (Johnny Fontane), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Lenny Montana (Luca Brasi), Alex Rocco (Moe Greene). C-175m. by Paul Tatara

Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola


In America, few film directors attain the coveted status of auteur. With huge production costs and complex studio systems, it is rare for a single person to gain the level of creative control over all aspects of the filmmaking process - from screenwriting to editing to the sought-after "final cut" - that the auteur commands. Francis Ford Coppola is one of the better-known modern exceptions. In Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola (University Press of Kentucky), author Gene D. Phillips blends biography, studio history, and film criticism to complete the most comprehensive work on Coppola ever written.

Recipient of the Director's Guild of America's Lifetime Achievement Award, Coppola began his career at UCLA's film school but was soon drawn to an apprenticeship with director Roger Corman, known as king of the B movie. With Corman he gained practical experience in all parts of the filmmaking process and learned how to stick to a budget, a skill that he credits with being chosen to direct The Godfather.

Biographer Gene D. Phillips gained close access to the director and his colleagues and examined Coppola's production journals and screenplays. Phillips brings to light the details of the production history of the harrowing 238-day shoot of Apocalypse Now and explains how The Godfather was almost cast without the now iconic Marlon Brando. He also reviewed rare copies of Coppola's student films, his early excursions into soft-core sexploitation, and his less celebrated productions such as One From the Heart and Tucker: The Man and His Dream.

Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola is currently available from most major book store chains and specialty book shops everywhere.

Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola

In America, few film directors attain the coveted status of auteur. With huge production costs and complex studio systems, it is rare for a single person to gain the level of creative control over all aspects of the filmmaking process - from screenwriting to editing to the sought-after "final cut" - that the auteur commands. Francis Ford Coppola is one of the better-known modern exceptions. In Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola (University Press of Kentucky), author Gene D. Phillips blends biography, studio history, and film criticism to complete the most comprehensive work on Coppola ever written. Recipient of the Director's Guild of America's Lifetime Achievement Award, Coppola began his career at UCLA's film school but was soon drawn to an apprenticeship with director Roger Corman, known as king of the B movie. With Corman he gained practical experience in all parts of the filmmaking process and learned how to stick to a budget, a skill that he credits with being chosen to direct The Godfather. Biographer Gene D. Phillips gained close access to the director and his colleagues and examined Coppola's production journals and screenplays. Phillips brings to light the details of the production history of the harrowing 238-day shoot of Apocalypse Now and explains how The Godfather was almost cast without the now iconic Marlon Brando. He also reviewed rare copies of Coppola's student films, his early excursions into soft-core sexploitation, and his less celebrated productions such as One From the Heart and Tucker: The Man and His Dream. Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola is currently available from most major book store chains and specialty book shops everywhere.

Quotes

Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your daughter... 's wedding... on the day of your daughter's wedding. And I hope their first child be a masculine child. I pledge my ever-ending loyalty.
- Luca Brasi
Mikey, why don't you tell that nice girl you love her? "I love you with all-a my heart, if I don't see-a you again soon, I'm-a gonna die... "
- Clemenza
Goddamn FBI don't respect nothin'.
- Sonny
In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.
- Fabrizio
I want someone good, I mean very good, to plant that gun. I don't want my brother coming out of the bathroom with just his dick in his hands.
- Sonny

Trivia

Paramount head, Stanley R. Jaffe, and Chinatown producer Robert Evans did not like director Francis Ford Coppola's decision to cast Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone (Brando's reputation had been tarnished by the massive budget over-run on Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) for which he had been largely blamed). Coppola was nearly fired by Evans for that casting decision but Jaffe finally accepted his decision in a last minute meeting by Coppola

Paramount's original idea was to make "The Godfather" as a low-budget gangster film set in the present, rather than a period piece set in the 40's and 50's.

Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman were all offered the part of Michael Corleone, but all refused. 'Redford, Robert' and Ryan O'Neal were also considered.

Robert De Niro read for the parts of both Sonny and Michael Corleone. Coppola decided that he wasn't right for the role of Sonny, and already had Pacino in mind for Michael.

Martin Sheen auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone.

Notes

The film's opening title card reads: "Mario Puzo's The Godfather". While the first strains of a trumpet solo of Nino Rota's "Godfather" theme are heard on the soundtrack, the screen goes black, after which the action opens in the study of "Don Vito Corleone" (Marlon Brando). The opening shot is of the character "Bonasera" (Salvatore Corsitto), who also speaks the first few lines of dialogue, beginning with the words "I believe in America." The final shots of the film show the face of "Kay Adams Corleone" (Diane Keaton) as she watches an underling of "Michael Corleone" (Al Pacino) shut the door to the study after his lieutenant, "Clemenza" (Richard Castellano), kisses Michael's hand and addresses him as "Don Corleone." The screen then returns to black, after which the cast and crew credits begin.
       Film rights to Mario Puzo's best-selling novel The Godfather were first optioned by Paramount in late 1968, prior to its publication, according to a October 14, 1968 Publishers Weekly news item. According to a September 30, 1970 Daily Variety article, variously recounted through the years by then Paramount vice-president Robert Evans, Puzo initially brought a twenty page treatment of the novel to him that was entitled Mafia. A Hollywood Reporter news item on January 24, 1969 announced that Paramount subsequently secured the rights to the novel, which by that time was listed as number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Various 1969 news items added that Paramount had purchased the book for a "bargain price" that would be spread out, based on the number of copies of sold, to a maximum of $80,000.
       Although the film was relatively faithful to Puzo's novel, which has sold millions of copies, in dozens of languages throughout the world, large segments of the book were not adapted for the film, most notably the early life of Don Vito, which eventually encompassed a major segment of director Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 sequel, The Godfather, Part II. In addition, much of the book's lengthy descriptions of the day-to-day lives of the characters was eliminated. To further reduce the story to fit the film's almost three-hour running time, many of the novel's minor characters were either eliminated, or appeared only briefly in the 1972 film. For example, in the novel, "Johnny Fontane," played by Al Martino in the film, is much more fleshed out, with large passages devoted to his life. As noted in many reviews of the novel, Johnny appeared to be a thinly veiled version of singer Frank Sinatra, who had highly publicized friendships with reputed Mafia bosses.
       In both the novel and film, when Johnny's singing career is in decline, he asks Don Vito to secure a role for him in a war movie based on a best-selling novel. This also parallels Sinatra, whose career was at a low point prior to obtaining his Oscar-winning role of "Angelo Maggio" in From Here to Eternity (1953, ), an adaptation of James Jones's novel of the same name. Reportedly, Sinatra won the role over the initial objections of Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn, whom many contemporary and modern sources have also pointed to as the inspiration for "Jack Woltz," played by John Marley in the film.
       "Tom Hagen" (Robert Duvall), the Corleone foster son and consigliere [counsel], was also given more background in the novel, in which it was more explicit that Don Vito and Santino "Sonny" Corleone (James Caan) were those closest to him. The novel devotes more time to Sonny's womanizing and large genitalia, which are alluded to very briefly during the wedding sequence and at two or three other points in the film. The end of the movie also departs significantly from the novel in that the character of Kay converts to Catholicism and prays for Michael's soul in acceptance of her role as wife of the new Don in the book, while the film ends with her suspicion that Michael has just lied to her about being responsible for killing his brother-in-law, "Carlo Rizzi " (Gianni Russo).
       The film's opening sequence, which takes up more than twenty-six minutes of screen time, moves back and forth among several different scenes, including quiet meetings in Don Vito's study in which he and Tom meet with the various petitioners; shots of the huge, outdoor wedding reception in which the guests dance, sing and joke with one another; more intimate scenes of Michael revealing some of his family history to Kay; and various asides involving Sonny and "Fredo Corleone" (John Cazale). The most famous line in The Godfather, which was taken from the novel and is repeated in several variations throughout the film, is first recited by Michael, who tells Kay that "My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse" when describing how Don Vito helped Johnny early in the singer's career. According to the pressbook, exteriors for the wedding sequence took four days to film and required seven hundred extras, along with most of the principals. Each day the four-tiered wedding cake had to be replaced, along with large amounts of lasagna, fruit, cookies, wine and other food consumed by the fictional wedding guests as well as the cast and crew.
       There are two significant montages in the film. The first occurs while Michael is in Sicily and relates what is happening in New York during the extended gang war. The montage includes brief scenes, photographs and newspaper headlines, accompanied by a piano solo performed by Carmine Coppola, father of Francis Ford Coppola, who appears as a Corleone henchman. The second montage, which has become one of the most famous ever filmed, is the baptism sequence, in which shots of Michael in church acting as the godfather to his sister's baby are intercut with scenes of the preparations, then brutal murders of, "Don Emilio Barzini" (Richard Conte), "Moe Greene" (Alex Rocco) and other Corleone enemies. While Michael answers traditional baptismal questions asked by the priest, such as "Do you renounce Satan?," the violent scenes are presented without discernable dialogue accompanied by an organist's rendition of Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.
       As noted in many critical studies of The Godfather, there is no violence in the film until approximately forty-five minutes into the story, at the point in which Woltz awakens to find the severed head of his beloved, expensive race horse, "Khartoum," in his bed. After this point, the periodic violence increases in intensity, from the death of "Luca Brasi," the murders in the restaurant and Sonny's ambush at the tollbooth, climaxing with the baptism montage. The final act of violence occurs when, on Michael's orders, Clemenza strangles Carlo for his role in Sonny's ambush.
       In an interview included as added content on the 2001 and 2006 multi-disc, Special Edition DVD sets of all three Godfather films, Coppola showed and discussed the expansive book he created of Puzo's novel in which he mounted each page onto notebook pages, with lengthy marginalia. Coppola stated that his notes and impressions on the novel were so extensive that, during production, he often referred to it rather than the actual script that he and Puzo co-authored for the film. At the time of production, Coppola was only thirty-two but had been writing, producing and directing for more than ten years. According to a March 13, 1972 Time magazine feature article, before Coppola was hired, Peter Yates, Richard Brooks and Costa-Gavras were approached by Evans and Paramount to direct The Godfather.
       Several contemporary sources, including the Time article, reported numerous names of prominent actors who had been considered for principal roles in the film. Brando was the first publicly announced cast member, as noted in both Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter, on January 28, 1971, approximately two months before the start of principal photography. The Daily Variety news item also chided Evans for his statement in September 1970 that the film would be cast with "real faces" and not "Hollywood Italians." Although most contemporary and modern sources agree that Brando had always been the favored choice for Don Vito, various other names mentioned for the title role in Time and other contemporary articles included Laurence Olivier, George C. Scott and Ernest Borgnine.
       Additional names mentioned in contemporary sources, but who were unlikely to have been serious considerations were Italian producer Carlo Ponti and noted San Francisco trial attorney Melvin Belli. Anthony Quinn had also read the script, according to contemporary sources, and in a modern television interview, Quinn related that it was he who initially brought the script to Brando. Modern sources add Raf Vallone, Adolfo Celi, Jean Gabin, Richard Conte (who appeared as Barzini in the released film), Vittorio De Sica, John Huston, Paul Scofield and Victor Mature as other names that were briefly discussed as possibilities for the role. In a July 2002 interview for a special Paramount anniversary issue of Hollywood Reporter, Evans recollected that Burt Lancaster had wanted Evans to sell him the rights to Puzo's novel for $1,000,000, but Evans turned him down.
       The pressbook and other contemporary sources reported that, because of Brando's schedule, all of his scenes had to be completed between 12 April and 28 May, 1971. The Time feature stated Coppola and others, including Albert S. Ruddy, whose Alfran Productions, Inc. co-produced the film with Paramount, initially were apprehensive about working with Brando, who had a reputation for on-set difficulties, but he was "a model team player," who frequently played pranks that lightened the mood on the set. The only difficulty encountered was Brando's inability to memorize lines, thus requiring hidden cue cards for each of his scenes.
       Public interest was so high in seeing Brando in character that the filmmakers had to go to great lengths to shield him from public and press scrutiny during the production. Various sources reported that Don Vito's distinctive look was obtained primarily by Brando's insertion of tissues in his cheeks. That, coupled with mannerisms and the accent and pitch of his voice, created what has become internationally recognized as "The Godfather." Many critics and historians have speculated on Puzo's inspiration for Don Vito, suggesting that the character is drawn from mobsters Vito Genovese, Joseph Profaci or Frank Costello. However, Puzo himself has denied a specific model for the character, and it is more likely that Don Vito is a composite of many types as well as actual historical figures.
       For the role of Michael, several well-known actors, including Robert Redford, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, were considered, but ruled out early on, according to the Time article. Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items in March 1971 reported that, after Pacino was cast in the role of Michael, his participation in the film was in jeopardy because of his previous commitment to M-G-M to appear in their 1971 release The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. The court awarded M-G-M an injunction against Paramount and Pacino prohibiting him from appearing in The Godfather, which had a production schedule that would overlap with The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight and thus preclude Pacino's appearance in both films. According to a March 17, 1971 Daily Variety news item, the dispute was settled out of court for undisclosed terms but most likely would require Pacino's appearance in a future M-G-M film. This was not the likely settlement, however, because, as of 2007, Pacino has not appeared in an M-G-M film. His role in The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight was taken over by Robert De Niro. Modern sources relate that De Niro had been tested for Sonny, then was considered for "Enzo" the baker and was actually cast as "Paulie Gatto," but he turned down the role to take the part in The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.
       As noted in a April 5, 1971 Daily Variety news item, Vic Damone, who was originally cast in the role of Johnny Fontane, withdrew from the production "on the strength of eight pages of script, what he'd heard about the film, and deference to his ancestry." Primarily a singer, Damone had acted in a number of M-G-M productions in the early 1950s, but had not appeared in a feature since Hell to Eternity (1960, see below). According to statements he released at the time, Damone felt that the film, including his role, would be demeaning to his Italian-American heritage, although some modern sources have speculated that Damone's decision was made after he realized that the Johnny role had been reduced drastically from what it had been in the novel. Damone continued to sing, as well as act on television throughout the 1970s, but he never again appeared in a feature film.
       Modern sources state that Sal Mineo, Martin Sheen and Paul Mantee were considered for the role of Fredo until casting director Fred Roos saw John Cazale in an off-Broadway play. Dozens of additional names have been mentioned in modern sources as choices for other roles, ranging from Italian and Italian-American actors and actresses for various gangsters and their family members to young "WASP" actresses considered for Kay. Actress Talia Shire, who portrayed "Connie Corleone Rizzi," is Coppola's sister. Previously billed under the name Talia Coppola, Shire went on to appear in the next two Godfather films, as well as play "Adrian" in the first four Rocky films.
       For many of the younger actors in the cast, including Pacino, Caan, Duvall, Cazale and Keaton, while their appearance in The Godfather did not mark their respective motion picture debuts, it did mark turning points in their careers. Aside from Cazale, who died of cancer in 1978 at age of forty-three, all have enjoyed long and successful careers. The Godfather also marked the feature film debuts of singer Morgana King ("Mama Corleone"), Gianni Russo and former wrestler Lenny Montana, who, according to the Time article, was a bystander on the set during the early days of shooting and picked by Ruddy as the perfect Luca Brasi. Modern sources add Max Brandt, Gian-Carlo Coppola, Ron Gilbert, Anthony Gounaris, Joe Lo Grippo, Sonny Grosso, Louis Guss, Randy Jurgensen, Tony Lip, Frank Macetta, Lou Martini, Jr., Father Joseph Medeglia, Rick Petrucelli, Burt Richards, Sal Richards, Tom Rosqui, Nino Ruggeri, Frank Sivero, Filomena Spagnuolo, Joe Spinell, Gabriele Torrei, Nick Vallelonga, Ed Vantura and Matthew Vlahakis to the cast.
       By February 11, 1971 several additional principals, including Marley, Caan and Duvall had been cast. As noted in a March 25, 1971 WSJ article and elsewhere, the lack of Italian-American actors in key roles prompted pickets in front of Paramount's Bronson Gate by the Italian-American Anti-Defamation League. Many news items and feature articles throughout 1971 and 1972 reported protests by various Italian-American groups, including actors who feared that the film, like the novel, would depict negative stereotypes of Italian Americans. In deference to the protests, Ruddy announced to the press on March 23, 1971 that the words "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra," which were prominently featured in the novel but were offensive to Italian Americans, would be excised from the film's script. In fact, those words were not in the released film, although they were included in The Godfather, Part II.
       News items from late 1970 on indicate that Coppola was angry over Paramount's initial refusal to film the picture in New York City. According to reports, Ruddy, who had had problems with unions on earlier shoots in New York, did not want to have continued disputes with them. According to Coppola's interview on the DVD, Kansas City was mentioned as a possible location, with the setting to be changed to the 1970s. Prior to the start of principal photography, Coppola won out, and the production was filmed primarily in New York and retained the same mid-1940s-1950s setting as the novel.
       Although principal photography on The Godfather began on March 29, 1971 [some sources, including the pressbook, state that it was 30 Mar], as noted in several news items and the picture's pressbook, the Christmas Eve, 1945 scene featuring Pacino and Keaton walking in front of Best & Company department store on Fifth Avenue was actually shot several days earlier, on 24 Mar, because the weather forecast was for snow flurries. Hoping to capitalize on real snow, producer Ruddy decided to shoot the scene early, but because no snow fell, a snow machine was needed to complete the action.
       Most of the film's interior scenes were shot in the Filmways Studios in the Bronx, NY and on the Paramount Pictures lot in Los Angeles, which also served as the fictional movie studio run by Woltz. As noted in the pressbook, news items and reviews, ninety percent of the picture was shot in real settings, with Bronx and Manhattan, NY locations including the exterior of Radio City Music Hall, Jack Dempsey's restaurant, Bellevue Hospital, Fordham Hospital, the New York Eye and Ear Clinic, Christopher Street and Mulberry Street. Mott Street was the setting for Don Vito's ambush, and the Corleone compound, or "Mall" as it was sometimes called in the book and film, was shot on a "quiet side street in a residential area on Staten Island" according to the pressbook. The Woltz estate was the former Marion Davies-William Randolph Hearst estate in Beverly Hills, CA. According to the pressbook, all of the Sicilian scenes were shot over a period of ten days in and around a small village on the island, and several scenes were shot on location in Las Vegas, NV.
       For the Christmas, 1945 scene set on the street outside Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the marquee is advertising The Bells of St. Mary's, the film that Michael and Kay have just seen. This reflected some of the historical accuracy and attention to detail within The Godfather, as The Bells of St. Mary's was playing at the Music Hall in December 1945. As noted in the pressbook, because the film being shown at the Music Hall when the scene for The Godfather was shot was A New Leaf (1971, see below), theater employees had to be posted down the street to inform moviegoers that the marquee was being used for the production.
       Tensions among the filmmakers both prior to and during production have been widely reported in contemporary and modern sources. A March 17, 1971 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Puzo had resigned as advisor on the picture, which was denied by Ruddy. The Time feature quoted Coppola, Evans and others who recounted that Coppola encountered resistance from director of photography Gordon Willis, among others, and that, about three weeks into production, the strain of potentially being dismissed almost led to Coppola having a nervous breakdown. Another issue during production concerned Pacino. According to comments made by Coppola in his audio commentary for the 2001 DVD release, studio executives were concerned that Pacino's acting was not up to the challenge of a role that occupied the largest amount of screen time. Coppola related that it was Pacino's performance in the scene in which Michael kills Sollozzo and McCluskey that finally convinced studio executives that Pacino was perfect for the part.
       Contemporary sources reported a final budget of approximately $6,000,000 for The Godfather, although a December 24, 1990 Los Angeles Times chart comparing the budgets and grosses of all three Godfather films refined the amount as $6,200,000. According to news items, The Godfather was originally to be released at Christmas 1971 but post-production difficulties resulted in an almost three-month delay. Its world premiere was held in New York City on March 14, 1972 as a benefit for The Boys Club of New York. The next day, The Godfather opened at five New York area theaters, then opened at two theaters in Los Angeles on 22 March 1972.
       Reviews ranged from positive to superlative, with critics such as New York Times's Vincent Canby calling it "superb" and heralding it as the "gangster melodrama come-of-age." In his Life review, Richard Schickel applauded the film, especially Brando's performance, of which he wrote: "One can scarcely praise Brando too highly as once again he asserts his craft and his pride after years of mislaying them." Newsweek critic Paul D. Zimmerman also lauded Brando as the centerpiece of "what promises to be the Gone With the Wind of gangster movies-both in its artful, intelligent control of gaudy material and in its certain sensational box-office success." Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. took a somewhat different stance in his review of The Godfather in the May 1972 issue of Vogue, stating that the film was finding success and popularity because it "shrewdly touches contemporary nerves. Our society is pervaded by a conviction of powerlessness. The Godfather makes it possible for all of us, in the darkness of the movie house, to become powerful."
       Interest in seeing the film was peaked by feature articles on the production in New York Times and other newspapers, a lengthy cover story in the March 13, 1972 issue of Time, which went on sale days before the film's premiere, and a newly released, 10,000,000 copy Fawcett paperback edition of the novel that included a thirty-two page insert of photographs from the movie. Coupled with the long popularity of the novel and excellent reviews, members of the general public were eager to see the film. The limited number of initial venues exhibiting The Godfather thus created huge lines outside theaters, where ticket sales reached record levels, convincing many theater owners to keep the picture running round-the-clock. Among the many contemporary news stories reporting on what became the popular cultural phenomenon of trying to see The Godfather, was the tongue-in-check feature article "Life-styles for Waiting in Line to See 'Godfather'" published in Los Angeles Times on April 16, 1972. The article reported on various strategies for seeing the film, including days of planning and the friendships that were created while moviegoers experienced the common bond of waiting hours in line. The article postulated "The Godfather is more important than life (and the lines are longer)."
       The picture broke many box-office records. A September 7, 1972 Daily Variety news item estimated that the final Labor Day weekend tally for The Godfather would reveal that it had grossed at least $75,000,000 in North America, thus becoming the highest grossing film of all time and supplanting Gone With the Wind, which had earned $72,900,000. Other news items documented that it was the first film in history to reach $100,000,000 in domestic box-office grosses and, according to an article in The Sunday Telegraph (London), the worldwide box office for the film was $114,000,000 by late August 1972. According to a December 26, 1990 Hollywood Reporter article, the picture eventually grossed $133,700,000 in its North American theatrical run. According to a December 13, 1972 Los Angeles Times article, profits were so high for The Godfather that earnings for Gulf & Western Industries, Inc., which owned Paramount Pictures, jumped from seventy-seven cents per share to three dollars and thirty cents a share for the year.
       The Godfather received Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Brando) and Best Screenplay based on material from another medium. The picture also received three nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Caan, Duvall and Pacino) and nominations in the categories of Director, Costume Design (Anna Hill Johnstone), Film Editor (William Reynolds and Peter Zinner) and Sound (Bud Grenzbach, Richard Portman and Christopher Newman). When the Academy Award nominations were first announced, Nino Rota also had received a nomination in the category of Music, Original Dramatic Score, but, following a controversy widely reported in Hollywood trade papers, Rota's nomination was withdrawn after it came to the attention of the Academy that portions of the score for The Godfather previously had been used by Rota in his score for the 1958 Italian film Fortunella. The music branch of the Academy subsequently re-voted, and John Addison took Rota's place for his scoring of Sleuth (see below). The award in that category went to Charles Chaplin, Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell for Limelight , which premiered in New York in 1952 but was not released in Los Angeles until 1972.
       An additional Academy Award controversy erupted on March 27, 1973, the night of the 1972 Oscar ceremony. Best Actor recipient Brando was not in attendance, and when his name was announced, Sacheen Littlefeather, a traditionally dressed, Native-American actress born Maria Cruz, came up to the podium but brushed aside the statuette being offered by presenters Roger Moore and Liv Ullman. In a brief speech excerpted from a lengthy statement by Brando, Littlefeather stated that the primary reason Brando was declining the award was because of treatment of American Indians in film and television. Although Brando previously had accepted a Best Actor Award for his role in On the Waterfront (1953, see below), he never accepted the Oscar for The Godfather and rarely talked about it in subsequent years.
       Director of photography Gordon Willis, production designer Dean Tavoularis and other principal members of the crew worked on all three Godfather films. Coppola's father, Carmine, who did the music for the wedding sequence in The Godfather, went on to win an Oscar for his score for The Godfather, Part II. While many critics have pointed to The Godfather, Part II, for which Tavoularis shared an Oscar with Angelo Graham, as the highpoint of the trilogy's art direction, Willis' darkly lighted, yellow-hued photography in The Godfather is considered by many to be his best work, even though he received no major awards for it.
       A Hollywood Reporter feature article on April 7, 1972 announced Evans' plans to personally supervise the production of four foreign-language versions of The Godfather, which would be dubbed outside the U.S. A July 17, 1972 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that French director Louis Malle was in charge of dubbing the French-language version, and that the actors were to be paid twice the normal amount for dubbing because of the importance of the film. The April 7, 1972 Hollywood Reporter article announced that Evans would produce, but Coppola would not direct, a sequel to The Godfather, then tentatively entitled Don Michael, because Coppola would be busy with other projects. In 1974, that sequel was released under the title The Godfather, Part II. The multiple-Academy Award-winning film was also produced by Evans, directed by Coppola and co-written by Coppola and Puzo. The second film, which was partially original and partially based on portions of Puzo's novel that were not in the film The Godfather, featured many of the principal actors from the first film, including Pacino, Keaton, Cazale, Duvall and Shire, and followed Michael's life as the head of the Corleone family. The film also included lengthy flashback segments devoted to the early life of Don Vito, who was played as a young man by De Niro.
       After years of development, a second sequel, The Godfather, Part III, was released in 1990, again directed by Coppola and co-written by him and Puzo but not taken from Puzo's novel. In that final Godfather film, Michael tries unsuccessfully to extricate his family from crime. Pacino, Keaton and Shire revived their roles in The Godfather, which also featured Sofia Coppola, who appeared as Michael and Kay's daughter "Mary," and Andy Garcia, who portrayed Michael's nephew. Sofia Coppola, who is a daughter of the director, also appeared as Connie and Carlo's baby in the baptismal sequence in The Godfather.
       As noted in a June 10, 1974 Daily Variety article, the NBC television network paid a record $10,000,000 for the rights to broadcast The Godfather over two nights. When the picture was finally broadcast in late November 1974, it became the highest rated movie in television history, according to Box Office, which reported that 90,000,000 viewers watched the two-night event.
       In November 1977, a new television version, known as The Godfather Saga but officially titled Mario Puzo's The Godfather: The Complete Novel for Television, was broadcast. The four-night, nine-hour broadcast that aired from November 12, 1977, was prepared by Coppola and film editor Walter Murch and incorporated footage from both The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II. According to an November 11, 1977 Daily Variety article, in response to expected boycotts and protests by Italian-American groups, NBC taped a special preface for the broadcast featuring Shire. In the segment Shire explained that the Godfather stories were fictional and not "the story of an entire people, whose contributions are positive and tremendously valued by us all."
       The Godfather Saga contained additional footage not included in either The Godfather or The Godfather, Part II theatrical releases, which bridged the two stories and fleshed out certain subplots. A number of scenes eliminated from the The Godfather, and subsequently incorporated into The Godfather Saga, also were included as added content with the DVD Special Edition sets. The most significant of these scenes were: a hotel bedroom scene, set just before Don Vito is ambushed, in which Michael and Kay laugh, kiss and talk about getting married; scenes explaining Woltz's sexual relationship with a child actress, which is related by Tom to Don Vito and precedes the Don's suggestion that Luca could help them convince Woltz to give Johnny the part; a brief scene in Sicily in which a feverish, grief-stricken Michael asks "Don Tommasino" (Corrado Gaipa) to find "Fabrizio" (Angelo Infanti); and, a final scene of Kay receiving Communion then lighting a candle for Michael, similar to the ending of the original novel.
       The Godfather was re-released theatrically with The Godfather, Part II in May 1977. In March 1997, the twenty-fifth anniversary of its 1972 premiere, The Godfather had another premiere, and was again released to theaters. According to a Newsweek article, most of the original actors were at the anniversary premiere, except for Brando, who reportedly had asked for, but not received, $100,000 to attend. At the time of the 1997 re-release, many newspapers ran feature articles and new reviews of the film. Although the reputation of the film had only increased over the years, its 1997 theatrical run was not financially successful, possibly due to the availability of the film on videotape and LaserDisc for many years. The first of several DVD editions of The Godfather was released in 2001.
       In March 2006, a video game version of The Godfather was released to significant fanfare and positive reviews. The game, which news items and press releases reported was to be the first of several Godfather titles, was developed by Electronic Arts (EA), a division of Viacom, Inc., which became the parent company of Paramount Pictures in 1994. The initial game, which was set in the 1940s, featured the likeness and actual voice of Brando, who recorded approximately four hours of voice track for EA prior to his July 2004 death. Caan and Duvall supplied the voices of their respective characters, Sonny and Tom, with twenty other characters from the 1972 film, many voiced by the original actors, also included. According to news items, EA had been given permission by Paramount to develop new storylines inspired by, but not necessarily based on, the action of the three films in The Godfather trilogy. When a new, five-disc-boxed set of the trilogy was released in March 2006, the set included a bonus 6th disc featurette on the making and working of the game.
       Since its initial release, The Godfather has continued to be lauded by both film critics and the general public as one of the best American films of all time. The picture was added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 1990; in 2003 an Esquire magazine poll named The Godfather the greatest film of all time; and in 2007 it placed second on the list of Greatest American Films on AFI's 10th Anniversary edition of 100 Years...100 Movies, changing positions with Casablanca, which had the second spot in 1997.
       Many of the film's iconic moments, such as Brando's first appearance onscreen as the jowly Don Vito brushing his cheek with the back of his fingers, the bloody horse's head in Woltz's bed and the book and film's key art of the hand holding the strings of a marionette, have been repeated in various representations in popular culture. The music, especially the first few notes of the score, also has become iconic, as have many of the film's lines, such as "Make him an offer he can't refuse," "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes," "Going to the mattresses" and "Leave the gun, take the cannoli." Over the years, several writers have commented on the influence of The Godfather, particularly among American males. A March 1997 Esquire article, "Michael Corleone, Role Model," speculated that the film has had an even greater influence on film executives: "There are people in Hollywood who hold The Godfather as their Gideon [Bible]. They recite and abide by all the film's axioms."
       Many critics have pointed to the influence that the film has had on the gangster genre, noting especially its influence on the popular HBO television series The Sopranos (1999-2007), which featured several actors who also appeared in The Godfather. According to a Variety article on October 30, 2006, numerous "Bollywood" versions of The Godfather have been made in India, among them Dharmatma (1975) and Sarkar (2005), which included musical numbers and regionalized variations on the original film. Numerous films and television programs have featured Godfather-like characters, usually for comic effect, and in 1990, Brando himself satirized his own role by portraying a reputed gangster in the satirical comedy The Freshman.

Miscellaneous Notes

Selected in 1990 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Winner of the 1972 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Voted Best Actor (Pacino) by the 1972 National Society of Film Critics.

Voted Best Supporting Actor (Duvall) by the 1972 New York Film Critics. Voted Best Supporting Actor (Pacino) and One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1972 National Board of Review.

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1972 New York Times Film Critics.

Brando was not in attendance at the Oscar ceremony and Native-American Sacheen Littlefeather refused the Best Actor award on his behalf, reading a statement from Brando citing the treatment of American Indians in film and television for the action.

Released in United States March 1972

Released in United States Spring March 15, 1972

Limited re-release in United States March 21, 1997

Released in United States on Video 1977

Re-released in United States on Video May 6, 1997

Released in United States 1996

Based on the Mario Puzo novel "The Godfather" (New York, 1969).

Released in USA on video.

Re-released in Sydney November 1, 1990.

Re-released in Tokyo November 24, 1990.

Re-released in Madrid November 1990.

Released in United States March 1972

Released in United States Spring March 15, 1972

Limited re-release in United States March 21, 1997

Released in United States on Video 1977 (as part of the re-edited, 450-minute "The Godfather Saga" edition)

Re-released in United States on Video May 6, 1997 (25th Anniversary Edition--digitally remastered)

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (American Museum of the Moving Image) as part of program "The Essential Brando" March 16 - April 7, 1996.)

Selected in 1998 as one of the AFI's list of 100 Greatest American Films of the century.