2017 marks The Godfather’s 45th anniversary, and we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.
The Godfather made its theatrical debut in New York City on March 15, 1972 and…bada bing! Francis Ford Coppola’s mob masterpiece was an instant success. The highest grossing film of 1972, The Godfather went on to earn over $245M worldwide, spawned two sequels (The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III) and is often referred to as one of the greatest films of all time.
Now, you just scroll down the page and enjoy yourself, and, uh, forget about all this nonsense. We want you to leave it all to us.
Leave the gun, and take these ten killer facts about The Godfather. Grazie!
1. 1. Vito, we’re not in Sicily anymore….
In an attempt to slash production costs, Paramount Pictures had some major changes in mind for The Godfather. Instead of setting the film in 1940s and 1950s New York, studio heads wanted the picture to be set in then modern-day Kansas City and filmed entirely on Paramount’s back lot. Fortunately, director Francis Ford Coppola refused the suggested changes and the period piece was shot on location in New York City and Sicily.
2. Sleeping Stallion
One of the film’s most iconic scenes is when studio boss Jack Woltz (John Marley) wakes up to find he is sharing a bed with his prized horse’s severed head. The infamous scene left audiences in a state of shock but many would be surprised – or outraged – to learn that the stallion’s head was, in fact, real! Studio scouts found a horse that was set to be slaughtered at a dog food plant in New Jersey and had the head sent to the set.
3. Little Black Book
It’s no secret in the film industry that many of the best stories are found in books. The Godfather and its sequels take their inspiration from the pages of Mario Puzo’s crime novel of the same name. Prior to the novel’s publication and massive success in 1969, Paramount Pictures offered Puzo an $80,000 film option for the work – an offer the cash-strapped author couldn’t refuse.
4. Corleone Compound
Referred to in Mario Puzo’s novel as “The Mall,” the Corleone compound is the secured base of operations for Vito Corleone and his family business. In order to create the eight-foot-high wall encircling the compound, the film crew opted to surround the joint with a “stone” wall, constructed out of painted Styrofoam. What a bunch of wiseguys!
5. 5. Bad Blood
Although The Godfather was honoured with many awards and nominations, newcomer Al Pacino wasn’t pleased with his Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Arguing that he had more screen time than his co-star and Best Actor winner, Marlon Brando, an insulted Pacino decided to lay low and boycotted the 1973 ceremony in protest of the perceived category fraud.
6. More Bad Blood
Al Pacino wasn’t the only one with a vendetta against the Academy Awards in 1973. Despite his nomination (and win) for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Marlon Brando also boycotted the star-studded ceremony, sending Native American Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather in his place. When Brando was announced as the winner, Littlefeather took to the podium and refused the award as a way to protest Hollywood’s false depiction of Native Americans in film.
7. Table Read
In true Italian fashion, family takes centre stage throughout The Godfather. In an effort to bond the cast and develop the atmosphere of the Corleone household, director Francis Ford Coppola arranged a number of informal rehearsal meals before filming began. The evenings would represent a real family dinner and provided actors with an opportunity to explore their roles in a natural Italian setting. Mangia!
8. 8. On the day my daughter is to be baptized….
One of the tiniest cast members in The Godfather is none other than future director Sofia Coppola, the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Playing the role of Michael Francis Rizzi (son of Connie Corleone), the little bambina can be seen near the film’s end in the final baptism scene. Coppola would go on to make another cameo appearance in The Godfather Part II before her credited portrayal of Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III.
9. The Family Business
In addition to his daughter Sophia, Francis Ford Coppola casted several other family members in The Godfather. Coppola’s sister, Talia Shire, was cast as Connie Corleone, while his father, Carmine Coppola, worked as a composer on all three films and also appeared as a pianist during the wedding scene. Coppola’s wife, mother, and two sons were all featured as extras in the movie as well.
10. Mouthpiece Mafia
Contrary to popular belief, Marlon Brando didn’t spend his time on set with a mouth full of Kleenex. While Mr. Mumbles did stuff his cheeks with tissue during his initial screen test for Don Vito Corleone, the actor was eventually fitted with a specialized mouthpiece to wear while in character. Brando would spend three hours in make-up every day to apply the custom-made appliance that gave him his iconic bulldog jowls.