Interested in finding out the differences
between the movie and the novel?
Well you've come to the right place, check out these Godfather
trivia for all the answers.
by: Francis Ford Coppola
Mario Puzo (novel &
screenplay) Starring: Marlon Brando - Don
Al Pacino - Michael Corleone
James Caan - Santino 'Sonny' Corleone
Richard S. Castellano - Peter Clemenza Robert Duvall
- Tom Hagen
Sterling Hayden - Capt. McCluskey
John Marley - Jack Woltz
Richard Conte - Don Emilio Barzini
Al Lettieri - Virgil 'The Turk' Sollozzo
Diane Keaton - Kay Adams
Abe Vigoda - Sal Tessio
Talia Shire - Connie Corleone Rizzi
Gianni Russo - Carlo Rizzi
John Cazale - Fredo Corleone
Rudy Bond - Don Carmine Cuneo
Puzo modeled the character of Don Vito Corleone on New York mob bosses
Joe Profaci and Vito Genovese. Many of the events of his novel are
based on actual incidents that occurred in the lives of Profaci,
Genovese and their families. Puzo based Don Vito's personality on his
In the novel the Corleone family has a victorious rise to
in earlier New York gang wars in which Don Corleone survives a previous
assassination attempt and Al Capone sends triggermen from Chicago in an
unsuccessful attempt to aid a rival gang.
The novel details the savage attack on the two men who
the undertaker Bonasera's daughter, which was led by Paulie Gatto and
involved retainer thugs, this was was only alluded to in the movie.
Mario Puzo gave Vito's eldest son the nickname of "Sonny"
nickname given to the son of 'Al Capone'. The similarities end there,
Sonny Capone did not enter his father's business.
In the novel a teenager Sonny' dabbles impulsively in
crime and utterly lacks the tact and coolheadedness possessed by his
Jack Woltz's pedophilia is explicitly shown and mentioned
Hagen to Don Corleone in the novel; this was only briefly alluded to in
Don Corleone's ingenious plan to bring Michael out of exile
Sicily is detailed in the novel.
The fates of Michael's bodyguards in Sicily, Fabrizio and
differ in the novel. It's stated that Calo dies along with Apollonia in
the car explosion, and Fabrizio, implicated as an accomplice in the
bombing, is shot and killed as one more victim in the famous "baptism
scene" after he is tracked down running a pizza parlor in Buffalo. The
movie has them both surviving, Calo, in fact, appears in the third
installment. Fabrizio's murder was deleted from the movie but publicity
photos of the scene exist. However, he is later killed in a completely
different scene in The
Godfather Saga which
was deleted from The
Godfather: Part II
Connie's confrontation with Michael over Carlo's death is
portrayed somewhat differently in the novel. Although she is initially
distraught, accusing Michael of executing her husband as revenge for
Sonny's brutal murder, in the novel she apologizes to Michael a few
days later, claiming she was mistaken, apparently glad to be rid of the
abusive Carlo and that Sonny has been avenged. She also marries again
less than a year later.
Singer Johnny Fontane is a major character in the novel and
misfortunes with women and problems with his voice, however, in the
movie this was all trimmed away.
Sonny's mistress, Lucy Mancini, was a substantial character
novel, but only appears briefly in the movie. The novel states that
Lucy Mancini was not pregnant by Sonny when she moved to Las Vegas,
which is a major difference as in the movie The Godfather: Part III (1990)
has a son by Sonny, Vincent Mancini, who plays a major role.
Other characters with smaller roles in the movie than in
include Rocco Lampone and disgraced former police officer Al Neri's
recruitment as a Corleone hit man. These characters are reduced to
non-speaking roles in the movie.
Characters dropped in The
Segal, Vito's terminally-ill consigliere, Genco Abbandando, in the
movie he's only spoken of, he first appears on film in The
Godfather II (1974)
and he appears in a deleted scene featured in The
and. Family friend Nino Valenti and Dr. Taza from Sicily are also not
In the novel Michael and Kay have two sons, but in the
they have a son and a daughter.
The novel's ending differs from the movie. In the movie Kay
suddenly realizes that Michael has become "like his family", however,
the drama is toned down in the novel. She leaves Michael and goes to
stay with her parents. When Tom Hagen visits her there, he lets her in
on family secrets for which, according to him, he would be killed
should Michael find out what he has revealed. Kay returns to Michael in
an uneasy compromise; she loves him, holds herself apart from the
details of his work and attends Catholic mass daily with Mama Corleone
to pray for Michael's soul, just as Mama had done for Vito.
Francis Ford Coppola initially offered the part of Don Vito
retired Maltese actor Joseph Calleia but the offer was turned down by
Calleia due to health reasons.
Director, Francis Ford Coppola's casting choices were
with studio executives
at Paramount Pictures, particularly Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone.
Coppola's first two choices for the role were both Brando and Laurence
Olivier, but Olivier's agent refused the role saying 'Lord Olivier is
not taking any jobs. He's very sick. He's gonna die soon and he's not
interested.' (Olivier lived 18 years after the refusal.)
a September/October 2003 "Cigar Aficionado" magazine cover story,
Coppola said, "I wanted either an Italian-American or an actor who's so
great that he can portray an Italian-American. So, they said, 'Who do
you suggest?' I said, 'Look, I don't know, but who are the two
greatest actors in the world? Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando. Well,
Laurence Olivier is English. He looked just like Vito Genovese. His
face is great.' I said, 'I could see Olivier playing the guy, and
putting it on.' And Brando is my hero of heroes. I'd do anything to
just meet him. But he's 47, he's a young, good-looking guy. So, we
first inquired about Olivier and they said, 'Olivier is not taking any
jobs. He's very sick. He's gonna die soon and he's not interested.' So,
I said, 'Why don't we reach out for Brando?'"
Paramount wanted Ernest Borgnin for the role of Don Vito
they originally refused to allow Coppola to cast Brando in the role,
citing difficulties Brando had on recent film sets. One studio
executive proposed Danny Thomas for the role citing the fact
Corleone was a strong "family man." At one point, Coppola was told by
the then-president of Paramount that "Marlon Brando will never appear
in this motion picture". After pleading with the executives, Coppola
was allowed to cast Brando only if he appeared in the film for much
less salary than his previous films, perform a screen-test, and put up
a bond saying that he would not cause a delay in the production (as he
had done on previous film sets). Coppola chose Brando over Ernest
Borgnine on the basis of Brando's screen test, which also won over the
Paramount leadership. Brando later won an Academy Award for his
portrayal, which he refused to accept.
Welles lobbied to get the part of Vito Corleone.
However, although Francis Ford Coppola was a fan of his, he
turn him down
because he already had Marlon Brando in mind for the role and felt
Welles wouldn't be right for it.
Andy Griffith, was almost cast in the role of Vito
such a great audition that Francis Ford Coppola was ready to
instead of Marlon Brando.
Edward G. Robinson, Danny Thomas, Richard Conte, Anthony
and George C.
Scott were all considered by Paramount Pictures for the role of Don
also considered casting Italian producer Carlo Ponti. Director, Francis
Ford Coppola objected as Vito had lived in America since childhood and
thus wouldn't speak with Ponti's Italian accent.
Frank Sinatra, despite
his reported distaste for the novel and opposition to the film, had
discussions with Coppola about playing Vito Corleone and at one
point actually offered his services. Coppola, however, was adamant in
his conviction that Brando take the role instead. This would be the
third time Brando performed in a part sought by Sinatra, after playing
Terry Malloy in On the
(1954) and Sky Masterson in Guys
Burt Lancaster wanted the role of Vito Corleone but was never
Brando's previous film, Queimada
had been a terrible flop and he could not get work in American
pictures, being considered by many producers as "washed up". Paramount
executives initially would offer Marlon Brando only union scale for the
role of Don Corleone. Finally, the studio relented and paid Brando
$300,000, according to Coppola's account. In his autobiography The Kid
Stays in the Picture (2002), former Paramount production chief Robert
Evans claims that Brando was paid $50,000, plus points, and sold back
his points to Paramount before the release of the picture for an
additional $100,000 because he had female-related money troubles.
Realizing the film was going to be a huge hit, Paramount was happy to
oblige. This financial fleecing of Brando, according to Evans, is the
reason he refused to do publicity for the picture or appear in the
sequel two years later.
Marlon Brando was paid $50,000 for six weeks
and weekly expenses of $1,000, plus 5% of the film, capped at $1.5
million. Brando later sold his points back to Paramount for $300,000.
Production began on March 29, 1971, but Marlon Brando
worked on the film for 35 days between April 12 and May 28 so he could
honor his commitment to the film Last
Tango in Paris (1972).
Marlon Brando wanted to make Don Corleone "look "like a
stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition. For actual
filming, he wore a mouthpiece made by a dentist; this appliance is on
display in the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.
Don Vito Corleone's distinctive voice was based on
Frank Costello. Marlon Brando had seen him on TV during the Kefauver
hearings in 1951 and imitated his husky whisper in the film.
Marlon Brando based some of his performance on Al Lettieri
Sollozzo. While preparing for On
Waterfront (1954), Brando became
friendly with Lettieri, whose relative was a real-life Mafioso. Brando
and Lettieri would later co-star in The
Night of the Following Day
(1968). Lettieri also helped Brando prepare for his Godfather role by
bringing him to his relatives house for a family dinner.
Apparently Marlon Brando did not memorize most of his lines
read from cue cards during most of the film.
In reality, all the actors who played Marlon Brando's sons,
Duvall, John Cazale, James Caan, and Al Pacino, were only between six
and 16 years younger than he was.
When Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Oscar for The
Sacheen Littlefeather to represent him at the awards ceremonies. The
presenters of the award were Roger Moore and Liv Ullmann. When Moore
offered the statuette to Littlefeather, she snubbed him and proceeded
with her speech about the film industry's mistreatment of American
Warren Beatty (who was also offered
directing and producing duties), Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman
were all offered the
part of Michael Corleone, but all refused.
Martin Sheen, Dean Stockwell and James Caan auditioned for
role of Michael
Corleone. Oscar-winner Rod Steiger campaigned hard for the role of
Michael, even though he was too old for the part.
Suggestions of Alain Delon and Burt
Reynolds for the role of Michael Corleone were rejected by Francis Ford
Paramount production chief Robert Evans wanted Robert
cast in the part, Evans
explained that Redford could fit the role as he could be perceived as
"northern Italian", but Coppola thought he was too WASPy. Evans
eventually lost the struggle over the actor
he derided as "The Midget". The Irish-American Ryan O'Neal then became
the front-runner for the part, though it eventually was given
Before being cast as Michael, Al Pacino was committed to
in The Gang That
Straight (1971). Coppola, in a 2003
"Cigar Aficionado" interview, said that Paramount pulled some strings
and managed to get Pacino released. The Paramount brass, particularly
Evans, were adamantly opposed to casting Pacino, who did poorly in
screen tests, until they saw his excellent performance in The Panic in
Needle Park (1971). Caan went back to his original role of
Pacino came on board.
Pacino was not
well known at the time, having appeared in only two minor films, and
the studio did not consider him right for the role of Michael Corleone,
because of his height. Pacino was given the role only after Coppola
threatened to quit the production.
During the shooting of The
many people were unhappy
quality of acting Pacino was giving. They thought he was showing the
character as dumb and slow-witted. It wasn't until the scene of the
Sollozo murder, on the third and fourth day of shooting, that the big
heads at Paramount saw "quality acting" on Pacino's part. However,
Pacino was still not highly regarded until The
became a big
hit, and Coppola was criticized immensely, and was threatened to be
fired for his cast choices and the manner in which he was filming the
According to Al Pacino in TV documentary, The Godfather Family: A Look
he nearly got fired midway through filming. At the time Paramount execs
only saw the early scenes of Michael at the wedding and were
exclaiming, "When is he going to do something?" When they finally saw
the scene where Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey in the
restaurant, they changed their minds and Pacino got to keep his job.
This was Al Pacino's first Oscar nomination and marks the
consecutive nominations, a feat he shares with Jennifer Jones
(1943-46), Thelma Ritter (1950-53), Marlon Brando (1951-54) and
Elizabeth Taylor (1957-60).
A then-unknown Robert De Niro auditioned for the roles of
Sonny, Carlo and Paulie Gatto. He was cast as Paulie, but Coppola
arranged a "trade" with The
That Couldn't Shoot Straight
(1971) to get Al
Pacino from that film. This in turn enabled De to star as the young
Vito Corleone in the sequel, which won him a Best Supporting Actor
Oscar for the role.
Anthony Perkins auditioned for the role of Sonny.
After Paramount production chief Robert Evans insisted that
Caan be cast as Michael, Carmine
Caridi was cast in the role of Sonny. According to Evans, he told
Francis Ford Coppola that he could cast Al Pacino as Michael as long as
he cast Caan as Sonny. Although Caan had been Coppola's first choice as
he decided that Caridi was better for the role and did not want to
recast Caan. Evans insisted on Caan because he wanted at least one
"name" actor to play one of the brothers and because the 6'4" Caridi
would tower over Pacino on screen. Caridi was later given a small part
in The Godfather: Part
James Caan credits the stage persona of "insult comic" Don
Rickles for inspiring his characterization of Sonny Corleone.
Jerry Van Dyke, Bruce Dern, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and
Caan auditioned for the role of Tom Hagen. The role eventually went to
The only comment Robert Duvall made about his performance
he wished "they would have made a better hairpiece" for his character.
A young Sylvester Stallone auditioned for Carlo
Paulie Gatto, but didn't get either role.
Mia Farrow auditioned for Kay which eventually went to
Diane Keaton based much of her portrayal of Kay Adams on
Ford Coppola's wife, Eleanor Coppola.
the character of Connie Corleone was supposed to
played by someone
Francis Ford Coppola called " plain looking, the daughter of a big-shot
who is only
married off because she's the daughter of some big Mafioso guy".
Coppola was reluctant to let his sister Talia Shire
audition for the role of Connie. He felt she was too pretty for the
part and did not want to be accused of nepotism. Only at Mario Puzo's
request did Shire get a chance to audition.
William Devane was considered for the role of Moe Greene.
The character Moe Greene was modeled after Jewish mobster
Jewish actors James Caan and Abe Vigoda portray Italian
(Santino Corleone, Salvatore Tessio), while Italian Alex Rocco,
portrays a Jewish character (Moe Greene).
Frankie Avalon and Vic Damone, both established and
singers, auditioned for the role of Johnny Fontane. Francis Ford
Coppola was most impressed with Damone and gave the role to him, but Al
Martino was cast by the producers, and used his organized crime
connections to ensure he kept the part. Ironically, Fontane sings "I
Have But One Heart," which was Damone's first hit song.
According to Mario Puzo, the character of Johnny Fontane
on Frank Sinatra. However, everyone assumed that it was, and Sinatra
was furious; apparently when he met Puzo at a restaurant he screamed
vulgar terms and threats at Puzo. Sinatra was also vehemently opposed
to the film. Due to this backlash, Fontane's role in the film was
scaled down to a couple of scenes.
Francis Ford Coppola originally wanted Stefania
Sandrelli for the role
of Apollonia, but she turned it down. Olivia Hussey was also considered
for this role by casting director Fred Roos.
The casting of Richard Conte as Don Brazini was an idea by
mother of Martin
Scorsese, who asked Francis Ford Coppola if he could be in the movie.
This was the final American studio film of actor Richard
Frank Puglia was originally cast as Bonasera but had to
due to illness.
Apparently Gianni Russo used his organized crime
secure the role of Carlo Rizzi, going so far as to get a camera crew to
film his own audition and send it to the producers. However, Marlon
Brando was initially against having Russo, who had never acted before,
in the film; this made Russo furious and he went to threaten Brando.
However, this reckless act proved to be a blessing in disguise: Brando
thought Russo was acting and was convinced he would be good for the
During pre-production, Francis Ford Coppola shot his own
screen tests with Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane
Keaton at his home in San Francisco. Robert Evans was unimpressed by
them and insisted that official screen tests be held. The studio spent
$420,000 on the screen tests but in the end, the actors Coppola
originally wanted were hired.
Al Pacino, James Caan and Diane Keaton each received
work on The Godfather, and Robert Duvall got $36,000 for eight weeks of
Along with Mario Puzo's source novel, Francis Ford Coppola
many of The
characters on members of his own family.
To some extent, The
Godfather was a family
Coppola. In chronological order of
His sister Talia Shire
Connie Corleone throughout the trilogy
His mother Italia Coppola serves as an extra in the
meeting, she also had a scene as a Genco Olive Oil Company switchboard
operator, but this ended up on the cutting room floor
His father Carmine Coppola who had a distinguished career
a composer, conductor and arranger, wrote additional music for the film
and appeared as the piano player in the Mattress sequence
His sons Gian-Carlo Coppola and Roman Coppola were cast as
Andrew Hagen, the two sons of Tom Hagen. They are
seen in the scene where Sonny beats up Carlo and behind Al Pacino and
Robert Duvall during the funeral scene.
And his daughter Sofia Coppola is the baby Michael Francis
the climactic baptism scene near the movie's end (she was three weeks
old at the time of shooting). Sofia later had a prominent role in The Godfather: Part III
Michael's daughter, Mary.
Frank Sivero appears as an extra in the scene where Sonny
up Carlo Rizzi. He would later appear in The
Godfather: Part II(1974)
The associate producer, Gray Frederickson, made a cameo
appearance as the cowboy in the studio when Tom Hagen encounters Woltz
the first time.
According to Gary Frederickson, Lenny Montana, (who played
Brasi) had worked as a Mafia bodyguard, and had also bragged to
Frederickson about working for the Mafia as an arsonist.
Ardell Sheridan, who plays Mrs. Clemenza, was Richard S.
Castellano's wife in real life.
This was Joe Spinell's first film. He plays Willi Cicci,
In the novel, Don Cuneo's first name is Ottileo, but in
the film he was known as Carmine Cuneo as homage to Francis Ford
Coppola's father, Carmine Coppola.
According to an August 1971 article by Nicholas Pileggi in
Times, a supporting cast member became so committed to his role that he
accompanied a group of Mafia enforcers on a trip to beat up strike
breakers during a labor dispute. But the enforcers had the wrong
address and were unable to find the strike breakers. The actor's name
was not revealed.
Paramount executive Peter Bart bought the film rights to
Puzo's novel "The Godfather" before it was even finished. It was still
only a 20-page outline.
Paramount's original idea was
to make this a low-budget gangster film set in the present rather than
a period piece set in the 1940s and 1950s. Francis Ford Coppola
rejected Mario Puzo's original script based on this idea.
The word "Mafia" does not appear in the screenplay.
the Italian-American Civil Rights League had an agreement with the
film's producer not to use the term "Mafia" in the film.
The term "godfather" was never actually used by the actual
author Mario Puzo just made it up. Yet after the book and film came out
people started assuming it was, so it started appearing in news
reports. And it is now actually used by the mob.
Francis Ford Coppola was not the first choice to direct the
movie. Italian director Sergio Leone was offered the job first, but he
but turned it
down since he felt the story, which glorified the Mafia, was not
interesting enough. He later regretted refusing the offer, but would go
on to direct his own critically acclaimed gangster film, Once Upon a Time in America
which focused on Jewish-American gangsters.
Peter Bogdanovich was then approached to direct The Godfather but
declined the offer and made What's
Up, Doc? (1972) instead.
According to Paramount production chief Robert Evans,
also did not initially want to direct The
because he feared it
would glorify the Mafia and violence, and thus reflect poorly on
his Italian-Sicilian heritage
; on the other hand, Evans specifically wanted an Italian-American to
direct the film because his research had shown that previous films
about the Mafia that were directed by non-Italians had fared dismally
at the box office, and he wanted to, in his own words, "smell the
spaghetti". When Coppola hit upon the idea of making it a metaphor for
American capitalism, however, he eagerly agreed to take the job.
At the time, Coppola had directed eight previous films, the
notable of which was the film version of the stage musical Finian's
Rainbow, although he had also received an Academy Award for co-writing Patton (1970).
Coppola was in debt
to Warner Bros. for $400,000 following budget overruns on George
Lucas's THX 1138
which Coppola had produced, and he took The Godfather on Lucas's
Francis Ford Coppola insisted on the film being called
Puzo's The Godfather" rather than just The
(1972), because his original draft of the screenplay was so faithful to
Puzo's novel he thought Puzo deserved the credit for it.
to Francis Ford Coppola in his "Cigar Aficionado" magazine interview,
he had a meeting at his home in 1969 with producers Albert S. Ruddy and
Gray Frederickson to discuss The
(1974). He had sent the script to Marlon Brando who called him during
the meeting to politely turn it down. Right before the meeting, Coppola
took note of a newspaper advertisement for an upcoming novel titled
"The Godfather" by Mario Puzo. Just a few months later, all five people
would meet to discuss a film version of the novel.
According to Paramount production chief Robert Evans, Mafia
boss Joe Colombo and his organization 'The
Italian-American Civil Rights League' started a campaign to stop the
film from being made. In Evans autobiography he states that
Colombo called his home and threatened him and his family.
received many letters during pre-production from Italian-Americans,
including politicians, decrying the film as anti-Italian. They
threatened to protest and disrupt filming. Producer Albert S. Ruddy met
with Colombo who demanded that the terms "Mafia" and "Cosa Nostra" not
be used in the film. Ruddy gave them the right to review the script and
make changes. He also agreed to hire League members (mobsters) as
extras and advisers. The angry letters ceased after this agreement was
made. Paramount owner Charlie Bluhdorn read about the agreement in The
New York Times and was so outraged that he fired Ruddy and shut down
production. But Evans convinced Bluhdorn that the agreement was
beneficial for the film and Ruddy was rehired.
to Producer Albert S. Ruddy's assistant, Bettye McCartt, Ruddy was
police that the Mafia was following his car. Ruddy would switch cars
with McCartt in an effort to lose them. One night, McCartt found her
car with the windows shot out and a note that read "Shut down the movie
There was intense friction between Coppola and Paramount,
several times Coppola was almost replaced. Paramount maintains that its
skepticism was due to a rocky start to production, though Coppola
believes that the first week went extremely well. The studio thought
that Coppola failed to stay on schedule, frequently made production and
casting errors, and insisted on unnecessary expenses. Coppola says he
was shadowed by a replacement director, who was ready to take over if
Coppola was fired, but despite such intense pressure, he managed to
defend his decisions and avoid being replaced.
As Paramount senior management were dissatisfied with the
rushes, they considered replacing Francis Ford Coppola with Elia Kazan
with the hope that Kazan would be able to work with the notoriously
difficult Marlon Brando. Brando announced that he would quit the film
if Coppola was fired and the studio backed down. Paramount brass
apparently did not know of Brando's dismay with Kazan over his
testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the
was set and shot in New York, at over 100
locations. Originally the entire film was to be shot in the Hollywood
back lots in order to save production costs; however production
designer Dean Tavoularis threatened to add two stories to each back lot
building in order to replicate the look of New York City, the studio
relented and allowed for shooting in New York.
Ford Coppola turned in an initial director's cut running at 126
minutes. Paramount production chief Robert Evans rejected this version
and demanded a longer cut with more scenes about the family. The final
release version was nearly 50 minutes longer than Coppola's initial
Most of the principal photography took place from March 29,
to August 6, 1971, although a scene with Pacino and Keaton was shot in
the autumn, there were a total of 77 days of shooting, fewer than the
83 for which the production had budgeted.
According to Francis Ford Coppola, the film took
the dark photography of Gordon Willis was eventually copied by many
other films, when the developed film came back from the lab, Paramount
executives thought the look was a mistake. They ordered a different
look but Willis and director Francis Ford Coppola refused.
According to Francis Ford Coppola, the term "Don Corleone"
is actually incorrect Italian parlance. In Italian, addressing someone
as "Don" would be like addressing them as "Uncle" in English, so the
correct parlance would be "Don Michael" or "Don Vito". Coppola says
that Mario Puzo, who couldn't speak Italian, simply made up the idea of
using "Don" with a person's last name, and it has now become a pop
film's opening scene, is a long, slow zoom, starting with a close-up of
Bonasera, who is petitioning Don Corleone, and ending with the
Godfather, seen from behind, framing the scene. This zoom, which lasts
for about three minutes, was shot with a computer-controlled zoom lens
designed by Tony Karp. The lens was also used in the making of Silent
The scene in the beginning where Marlon Brando is giving
instructions (some involving violence) while petting the cat was
somewhat improvised. It was Brando's idea to hold and pet the cat
during the scene, to show both his character's violent and kind sides.
The cat held by Marlon Brando in the opening scene was a
the actor found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally
called for in the script. The cat purred so loudly that it drowned out
the lines from the other characters. They ended up having to re-record
The actor playing Luca Brasi, Lenny Montana, was so
nervous about working with Marlon Brando that, in the first take of
their scene together, he flubbed some lines. Francis Ford Coppola liked
the genuine nervousness and used it in the final cut. The scenes of
Brasi practicing his speech were added later.
The smack that Don Vito Corleone gives Johnny Fontane was
in the script. Marlon Brando improvised the smack and Al Martino's
confused reaction was real. According to James Caan, "Martino didn't
know whether to laugh or cry."
John Martino (who played Paulie Gatto) ad-libbed the words
"Madon'" (Madonna) and "sfortunato" (unfortunate) when Paulie talks
about stealing the wedding purse.
James Caan improvised the part where he throws the FBI
photographer to the ground. The extra's frightened reaction is genuine.
At Connie's wedding, Sonny is seen in close quarters with
Mancini (Jeannie Linero) Connie's maid of honor at the event (wearing
a pink dress). According to the novel, Sonny takes Lucy as his mistress
(she is "that young girl" Don Corleone mentions to Sonny; she is also
seen before Sonny visits Connie). The novel and film trilogy differ on
her fate, though: in the novel she eventually moves on, settling down
with a Las Vegas doctor; she is briefly seen in The Godfather: Part III (1990),
with her son Vincent playing a major role.
The Don's wife, Carmella Corleone, is seen singing at the
wedding. Morgana King, who plays Carmella, is a gifted opera singer.
character of Hollywood mogul Jack Woltz's was patterned after Warner
Bros. chief Jack L. Warner. His personality was based on MGM head Louis
B. Mayer, who was a great racing aficionado and owned a racing stable.
Mayer abandoned the sport, reportedly after his son-in-law William
Goetz, who was his partner in the stable, got involved with the Mafia
and fixed a race Mayer's horse was the favorite to win.
The mansion of Jack Woltz was also used as the mansion of
Stanwyk in Fletch
In the novel, Jack Woltz, the movie producer whose horse's
in his bed, is also shown to be a pedophile as Tom Hagen sees a young
girl (presumably one of Woltz's child stars) crying while walking out
of Woltz's room. This scene was cut from the theatrical release but can
be found on the DVD (though Woltz can still briefly be seen kissing the
girl on the cheek in his studio in the film).
During rehearsals, a false horse's head was used for the
horse's head in the bed scene. However, for the actual shot, a real
horse's head was used, acquired from a dog-food factory. They painted
on the stripe and added the fake blood. According to
John Marley (who played Jack Woltz), his scream of horror was real as
he was not informed that
a real head was going to be used.
One of the movie's most shocking moments involved the real
severed head of a horse. Animal rights groups protested the inclusion
of the scene. Coppola later stated that the horse's head was delivered
to him from a dog food company; a horse had not been killed
specifically for the movie.
When Luca Brasi goes to visit the Tattaglia's and is
you can see his face turning slightly black due to strangulation. This
effect was achieved by placing a type of translucent powder on the
actor's face which tints black when it comes in contact with water. So
while Luca Brasi was being strangled, a fine mist of water was sprayed
over his face to trigger the color change.
As Don Vito Corleone is buying oranges prior to the
there's a poster in the store window advertising a boxing match
involving Jake LaMotta. Robert De Niro plays the young Vito in The
Godfather: Part II
also went on to play LaMotta in Raging
The movie Michael and Kay were watching before Michael
that his father was shot was Leo McCarey's The Bells of St. Mary's
McCarey's name appears outside of Radio City Music Hall.
Richard S. Castellano, who played Peter Clemenza, ad-libbed the line
"Take the cannoli", which is part of one the most memorable lines in
the movie "Leave the
gun. Take the
the scene where Clemenza is cooking, Francis Ford Coppola originally
wrote in the script, "Clemenza browns some sausage". Upon seeing this,
Mario Puzo crossed out "browns" and replaced it with "fries", writing
in the margin, "Gangsters don't brown."
scenes were filmed in two different locations: the exterior scenes were
filmed at a side entrance to the Bellevue Hospital; and the interior
shots were filmed at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in Manhattan,
New York City.
The scenes in which Enzo the Baker
comes to visit Vito Corleone in the hospital were shot in reverse with
the outside scene shot first.
Gabriele Torrei, the
actor who plays Enzo, had never acted in front of a camera before and
his nervous shaking after the confrontation Michael has with Capt.
McCluskey and car drives away was real.
to Al Pacino, those were real tears in Marlon Brando's eyes when
Michael pledges himself to his father in the hospital scene.
to Francis Ford Coppola in the DVD commentary, in the scene outside the
hospital when Michael encounters Capt.
McCluskey, the officer standing to the left of McCluskey, "Phil" is
actually former legendary New York City police officer, Sonny Grosso.
Grosso was the actual partner of Eddie Eagan, who was portrayed by Gene
Hackman as Popeye Doyle in The
French Connection (1971). Grosso's
character, Buddy "Cloudy" Russo was played by Roy Scheider. Grosso went
on to direct and produce numerous police dramas for TV, usually about
the New York Police Department (the best known
is "NYPD Blue").
Al Pacino wore a foam latex facial appliance that covered
left cheek and was made up with colors to match his skin tone and give
the effect of bruising, to simulate the effect of having his jaw broken
by Captain McCluskey.
the scene where Sonny Corleone says "badda-beep,
badda-boop, badda-beep", James Caan originally heard the
"bada-bing!" from his acquaintance, the real-life mobster Carmine
Persico, and improvised its use in the film.
the scene in the study when the family decides Michael Corleone needs
to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey, Sonny Corleone is seen idly toying with
a cane. The cane belonged to Al Pacino, who had badly injured his leg
while filming Michael's escape from the restaurant.
The scene with Michael driving with McCluskey and Sollozzo
avoided the use of back-projection because of cost. Technicians moved
lights behind the car to create the illusion.
the meeting in the restaurant, Sollozzo speaks to Michael in Sicilian
so rapidly that subtitles could not be used. Apparently this is the
English translation of what says:
He begins with: "I
am sorry. What happened to your father was business. I have much
respect for your father. But your father, his thinking is
old-fashioned. You must understand why I had to do that. Now let's work
through where we go from here."
When Michael returns from the bathroom, he continues in Sicilian:
all right? I respect myself, understand, and cannot allow another man
to hold me back. What happened was unavoidable. I had the unspoken
support of the other Family dons. If your father were in better health,
without his eldest son running things, no disrespect intended, we
wouldn't have this nonsense. We will stop fighting until your father is
well and can resume bargaining. No vengeance will be taken. We will
have peace. But your Family should interfere no longer."
The startling scene of McCluskey's shooting was
building up a fake forehead on top of actor Sterling Hayden. A gap was
cut in the center, filled with fake blood, and capped off with a plug
of prosthetic flesh. During filming, the plug was quickly yanked out
with monofilament fishing line, making a bloody hole suddenly appear in
to interviews in the Coppola Restoration DVD set, The
originally planned with an intermission due to its three-hour length.
The intermission would have happened immediately after Michael murders
Sollozzo and McClusky, which explains the operatic instrumental that
begins playing when Michael is shown fleeing the restaurant, as well as
the ensuing "newspaper" montage, which would have been the first scene
George Lucas put together the "Mattress
of crime scene photos and headlines about the war between the five
families, as a favor to Francis Ford Coppola for helping him fund American Graffiti (1973).
not to be credited.
Lucas used photos from real crime scenes in the "Mattress Sequence".
of the most prominent photos shows two cops kneeling beside what looks
like a man sleeping on the ground with his head propped up against a
fence. That man is Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, Al Capone's right-hand
man who had, in fact, committed suicide with a gunshot to the head.
Because Corleone, Sicily,
was too developed even in the
the Sicilian town of Savoca, outside Taormina, was used for shooting
the scenes where Michael is in exile in Italy.
the sequences filmed in Sicily, Michael's broken-jaw make-up does not
match the make-up used during the sequences filmed in New York. This is
because Paramount Pictures would not pay the costs of sending makeup
artist Dick Smith to Italy with the rest of the crew.
Fabrizio, Michael's Sicilian bodyguard who planted the bomb
killed Appolonia, was originally to be found by Michael at a pizza
parlor he opens in America and subsequently blown away with a shotgun
at the end of the movie as per "The Godfather" novel. This scene was
filmed but ultimately cut because the makeup artists plastered Angelo
Infanti with so much fake blood that the scene looked ridiculous.
Photos of Michael Corleone with a hat, shotgun blazing, appeared in
many magazines, despite the scene's eventual deletion. Fabrizio's death
was filmed again, for The
this time by car bomb (as the ultimate form of poetic justice), but
that scene was also deleted from the theatrical version. It was
restored in The
Godfather: A Novel
for Television (1977).
During an early shot of the scene where Don Vito Corleone
home and his people carry him up the stairs, Marlon Brando put weights
under his body on the bed as a prank, to make it harder to lift him.
Paramount was in financial trouble at the time of
desperate for a "big hit" to boost business, hence the pressure Coppola
faced during filming. At one point during filming, Paramount production
Robert Evans felt the film had too little action and considered hiring
an action director to finish the job. To satisfy Evans, Francis Ford
Coppola and his son Gian-Carlo Coppola developed the scene in which
Connie and Carlo have their long fight. As a result, Evans was pleased
enough to let Coppola finish the film.
the scene where Sonny beats up Carlo, a truck in the background and a
wooden box on the sidewalk are strategically placed to hide
anachronistic objects in the background. The
scene took four
days to shoot and featured more than 700 extras.
filming, James Caan and Gianni Russo (who plays Carlo Rizzi) did not
get along and were frequently at loggerheads. During filming Sonny's
beating up Carlo, Caan nearly hit Russo with the stick he threw at him,
and actually broke two of Russo's ribs and chipped his elbow.
the same scene, where Carlo is beaten by Sonny, a poster bearing the
name "Thomas Dewey" can be seen on a wall. Thomas E. Dewey was New York
City prosecutor who pursued gangsters in the 1930's.
While Sonny is driving alone in his car, he's listening to
October 1951 radio broadcast of Russ Hodges calling the Dodgers-Giants
playoff - a half-inning before Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the
In the scene where Sonny is killed by the men with the
Guns, James Caan was very apprehensive about how many squibs he was
wearing (149, a record number at that time, and therefore very
dangerous). He only did that scene because he didn't want to lose face
in front of the female crew members.
Francis Ford Coppola shot Sonny's assassination scene in
with different cameras positioned at each shot. This was because there
were 149 squibs taped onto James Caan's body to simulate the effect of
rapid machine-gun fire, and they couldn't shoot another take.
between the heads of the Mafioso was filmed in the boardroom of the
Penn-Central Railroad. This explains the train mural seen behind Don
Barzini (Richard Conte).
Screenwriter Robert Towne wrote the scene on the patio
Don Corleone and his son Michael.
In the scene where Vito is in the garden with his grandson,
puts an orange peel in his mouth, and the kid looks scared. Well, the
kid was really scared as Marlon Brando improvised that, and the kid
wasn't expecting it.
The three-year-old child
actor Anthony Gounaris responded best when his real name was used while
shooting the film. That's why Michael's son's name is Anthony.
Don Corleone's death scene, while it featured in the novel,
originally not to appear in the film because studio executives felt
that the audience would see the funeral and know what had happened.
Francis Ford Coppola shot the scene with three cameras in a private
residence in Long Island (the makeshift garden itself was created from
scratch and torn down immediately after shooting), with Marlon Brando
ad-libbing his lines.
to Francis Ford Coppola on The
DVD commentary, the intercutting of the
baptism scene with the gang killings during the movie's climax did not
really work until editor Peter Zinner added the organ soundtrack.
The baptism was filmed in two churches: the interior shots
filmed at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York and the exterior
shots were filmed at the Mount Loretto Church in Pleasant Plains,
shooting of Moe Green through the eye was inspired by
death of gangster Bugsy Siegel. To achieve the effect, actor Alex
Rocco's glasses had two tubes hidden in their frames. One had fake
blood in it, and the other had a BB and compressed air. When the gun
was shot, the compressed air shot the BB through the glasses,
shattering them from the inside. The other tube then released the fake
Aram Avakian was originally hired as the film's editor but
fired after disagreements with Coppola.
Nino Rota was originally nominated for an Oscar for his
would probably have won) but the nomination was withdrawn when it was
realized that he had substantially re-worked parts of his earlier score
The film makes use of a variety of Italian words:
Paulie says "sweet
tonnato" which is
an early Italian-American slang term roughly translated as 'if only'
Michael explains that Tom is a "consigliere," or a
Vito calls Johnny Fontane a "finocchio," an offensive term
Sonny refers to Paulie as a "stronzo," a term equivalent to
Carlo and Connie both say "vaffanculo" during their fight,
means "fuck you"
Don Zaluchi calls the sale of drugs to children as an
and both the Dons Corleone use the word "pezzonovante,"
".95 caliber," or more accurately meaning "big shot".
The presence of oranges in The Godfather trilogy seems to
indicate that a death-related event will soon occur, however production
designer Dean Tavoularis claimed the oranges were simply used to
brighten up the darkly shot film. In chronological order of such
Hagen and Woltz
Fontane's position at a table with a bowl of oranges on it, and later
Woltz discovers his horse's severed head
Don Corleone buys oranges right before he is shot
Sonny drives past an advertisement for Florida Oranges
before he is
At the Mafioso summit, bowls of oranges are placed on the
(specifically in front of those Dons who will be assassinated)
Michael eats an orange while discussing his plans with Hagen
before Don Corleone dies, he plays with an orange
Tessio, who is executed for attempting to betray Michael,
an orange at Connie's wedding
and Carlo Rizzi, who wears an orange suit right before
him up, causes Sonny's death and is himself garrotted in retribution.
The only deaths in the film that don't appear to have
foreshadowing them are the assassinations of Paulie, Sollozzo,
McCluskey and Apollonia.
The early buzz on The
Godfather was so positive that a sequel
planned before the film was finished filming.
Franco Corsaro filmed a scene as the dying consigliere
Abbandando but it was deleted. In the scene, which takes place after
the wedding, Vito Corleone and his sons go to the hospital to pay their
respects to Genco who is dying of cancer. They attempt to console him
and Genco begs Vito to stay with him as he is dying. The scene does
appear in some TV edited version of the film (in place of edited
versions of the murder scenes) and is in The Godfather: A Novel for
In 1975, Coppola edited The
Godfather (1972) and The
Godfather: Part II
(1974) together for TV, putting the scenes in chronological order and
adding some previously unseen footage, but also toning down the
violence, sex, and profanity. This version of the story was called The Godfather Saga
and was rated
In 1981, Paramount released The
Godfather Epic box set which combined parts I &
chronological order, again with additional scenes not shown in
In 1992, Coppola would again re-edit all The Godfather (1972),
II (1974) and The
Godfather: Part III (1990) in
chronological order dubbed The
Godfather Trilogy 1901-1980. It was released on VHS and
laserdisc in 1993. The total run time for this version is 583 minutes
(9 hours, 43 minutes).
The VHS version spanned five VHS tapes and incorporated new previously
deleted scenes that had not been seen in The Godfather Saga. This set
also included a sixth VHS tape: "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside" a
None of the releases, The
Godfather Saga (1975), The
Godfather Epic (1981) or The
Godfather Trilogy 1901-1980
(1992) contain all the additional scenes in one package. The Saga
contains scenes not in the Epic or Trilogy, the Epic contains scenes
not in the Saga or Trilogy, and the Trilogy contains scenes not in the
Saga or the Epic.
there are many claims of real Mafiosi as cast members Francis Ford
Coppola stated in a May 2009 interview with Howard Stern that no
organized crime members were cast or used as consultants. Coppola went
on to explain there are expectations of reciprocity once one is
provided a "favor" by an organized crime member or otherwise involved
in a business action with the same. He specifically denied the
connection of Gianni Russo to organized crime. The closest Coppola
claims to have come to a real gangster during production, at least to
his knowledge, was an interaction with Lenny Montana, who played Luca
Brasi. Coppola said when he asked if Montana knew how to spin the
cylinder of the revolver Montana replied "You kiddin'?".
Director Stanley Kubrick believed that The Godfather was
the greatest movie ever made, and had without question the best cast.
A promotional board game titled "The Godfather Game" was
to an article in August 1971 by Nicholas Pileggi in The New York Times,
Paramount planned to release a line of spaghetti sauce bearing The Godfather logo
to promote the film. It also planned Godfather restaurant franchises
that would sell pizza, hero sandwiches, Italian ices and Italian breads
and pastries. A spin-off television series was also planned but none of
these ideas came to fruition.
The movie quote "I'm
make him an offer he can't refuse" was selected as no. 2
by the American
(AFI) on it's list as one of the top
100 movie quotes.
It was also voted
as the no.10 of
'The 100 Greatest Movie Lines' by Premiere in 2007.
The name of the traditional Sicilian hat (as worn
Michael's bodyguards) is "coppola".
Corleone does not wear a hat (Apart from as required by his Marine
Corps uniform) until he becomes involved in the family business.
Al Pacino's maternal grandparents emigrated to America from
Corleone, Sicily, just as Vito Corleone had.
Al Pacino and Diane Keaton actually fell in love during the
shoot, and were a couple for quite some time.
to Ardell Sheridan (who played Mrs Clemenza), Mafia captain and future
boss Paul Castellano visited the set and spoke with Richard S.
Castellano (who played Peter Clemenza). It was not until after Paul was
killed in 1985 did Richard reveal to her that Paul was his uncle.
personality Howard Stern has said that he would gladly have any cast
member of this film as his guest and they can show up at his studio
unannounced. Though over the years cast members such as Robert Duvall
and James Caan were pre-scheduled guests, his "just show up" policy was
never taken up until Gianni Russo arrived one day. Stern immediately
had him escorted into his studio, even though he was in the midst of
other guests at the time and interviewed him.
The only film to date to be nominated for four acting
exclusively for male performances.
Marlon Brando won a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Vito
Corleone. Robert DeNiro, who played the younger Vito Corleone via
flashbacks in Part II, won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. They remain
the only two actors to win Oscars for playing the same character.