Francis Ford Coppolas the Godfather
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).
All this is weaved into a twenty-six minute sequence that introduces the main characters of the story. Many of whom appear throughout the film, including his mother, his father, and his sister, Talia Shire, who plays Connie Corleone. As Coppola relates in his audio commentary, The Godfather is a film about a family and made by a family. In the post-World War II years in which the story is set, The Godfather presents a picture of the world that is corrupt from the top down. The Corleone family is like the government– only they do things their own way. When the legal system fails the people and there is no justice to be found, citizens– as though living in the days of old Rome– petition their “Godfather” for favors.
Vito agrees Hagen should “have no part in what will happen” in the coming battles with the rival families. When Michael travels to Las Vegas to buy out Greene’s stake in the family’s casinos, he is dismayed to see that Fredo is more loyal to Greene than to his own family. At the 45th Academy Awards, the film won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor , and Best Adapted Screenplay . In addition, the seven other Oscar nominations included Pacino, Caan, and Duvall for Best Supporting Actor, and Coppola for Best Director. Since its release, The Godfather has been widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, especially in the gangster genre.
Director Stanley Kubrick thought the film had the best cast ever and could be the best movie ever made. Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic wrote negatively of the film in a contemporary review, claiming that Pacino “rattles around in a part too demanding for him,” while also criticizing Brando’s make-up and Rota’s score. s Andrew Sarris believed Brando portrayed Vito Corleone well and that his character dominated each scene it appeared in, but felt Puzo and Coppola had the character of Michael Corleone too focused on revenge. In addition, Sarris stated that Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, and James Caan were good in their respective roles. The film’s opening day gross from five theaters was $57,829 with ticket prices increased from $3 to $3.50.
The Godfather was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records to become the highest grossing film of 1972. It earned $81.5 million in theatrical rentals in North America during its initial release, increasing its earnings to $85.7 million through a reissue in 1973, and including a limited re-release in 1997 it ultimately earned an equivalent exhibition gross of $135 million. It displaced Gone with the Wind to claim the record as the top rentals earner, a position it would retain until the release of Jaws in 1975. News articles at the time proclaimed it was the first film to gross $100 million in North America, but such accounts are erroneous since this record in fact falls to The Sound of Music, released in 1965. The film repeated its native success overseas, earning in total an unprecedented $142 million in worldwide theatrical rentals, to become the highest net earner. 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, according to a Los Angeles Times article, dated December 13, 1972.
This movie about war and rape is the culmination of Brian De Palma’s best work. The mindless and hysterical banality of the evil presented in The Exorcist is the most terrifying thing about the film. The Americans should certainly know more about evil than that; if they pretend otherwise, they are lying. I met Coppola at Bucknell when he was making The Rain People aboard a land yacht, traveling, as it were, across the real face of America in search of sociological truth with an improvised scenario. I remember being as impressed by Coppola’s intelligence as I was suspicious of his professed intentions.
After a few minutes where Michael and Sollozzo converse in Italian, Michael excuses himself to go to the bathroom, where he retrieves the planted revolver. Michael is sent to hide in Sicily while the Corleone family prepares for all-out warfare with the Five Families as well as a general clampdown on the mob by the police and https://moviemachine.net government authorities. When the Don returns home from the hospital, he is distraught to learn that it was Michael who killed Sollozzo and McCluskey. Michael meets with Clemenza, one of his father’s caporegimes , who prepares a small pistol for him, covering the trigger and grip with tape to prevent any fingerprint evidence.
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 , 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. 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.
After filming had ended on August 7, post-production efforts were focused on trimming the film to a manageable length. In addition, producers and director were still including and removing different scenes from the end product, along with trimming certain sequences. Many of the scenes removed from the film were centered around Sonny, which did not advance the plot. Debates over personnel involved with the final editing remained even 25 years after the release of the film. The film was shown to Paramount staff and exhibitors in late December 1971 and January 1972. Before the filming began, the cast received a two-week period for rehearsal, which included a dinner where each actor and actress had to assume character for its duration.
The “All’s Fair in Oven War” final scene shows James Caan being ambushed by hillbillies at a toll booth, a parody of the scene when Sonny Corleone is shot and killed. The later episode “The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer” parodies the film’s ending scene, with Lisa Simpson taking Kay Adams’ role and Fat Tony’s son Michael standing in for Michael Corleone. Although many films about gangsters had been made before The Godfather, Coppola’s sympathetic treatment of the Corleone family and their associates, and his portrayal of mobsters as characters of considerable psychological depth and complexity was hardly usual in the genre.
The Godfather is set in the 1940s and takes place entirely within the world of the Corleones, a fictional New York Mafia family. It opens inside the dark office of the family patriarch, Don Vito Corleone , on the wedding day of his daughter, Connie . Vito’s youngest son, Michael , who has distanced himself from the family business, attends the festivities with his non-Italian girlfriend, Kay .