Criticism and showdown with the mafia: the story of the filming of the legendary "Godfather"By Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/criticism-and-showdown-with-the-mafia-the-story-of-the-filming-of-the-legendary-godfather
The film "The Godfather" is like "Mona Lisa" in the world of cinema. Not everyone has seen her firsthand, but they have definitely heard about her and certainly admire her. Director Francis Coppola and the author of the novel about the mafia Mario Puzo once created a real masterpiece, which even years later they continue to remember and give as an example, comparing with other films.
However, the film could not have been! The filming of the tape about the Corleone family was hindered by many factors, including the complete disbelief of the film studios in the success of the film and the showdown with the real mafia.
"The Godfather" is the first novel by Mario Puzo, dedicated to the Italian mafia and gangsters in general. Before that, he wrote only about what he knew and saw personally: about the war, about the life of migrants, about gambling. Puzo did not meet with the mafia at the time of writing the novel, so the book that formed the basis of the film adaptation was written based on the author's own ideas.
Puzo tried to learn more about the mafia from all available sources. Being a gambler, he often went to the casino and asked the croupier everything about the representatives of bandit clans. And some things I just thought up based on my own ideas about gangsters. For example, in the scene when Clemenza teaches Michael how to make sauce for meatballs, there was originally the phrase "You need to brown the garlic", but later Puzo crossed it out and wrote: "We need to fry the garlic." He considered that "to brown" is an inappropriate word for the gangster lexicon.
Puzo sold the rights to the film adaptation of his novel to Paramount. The book was a success with readers, but the studio doubted that the film would cause the same furor. The actions of the" Godfather " were decided to move from the 40s to the 70s in order to save on decorations and costumes. Only $ 2.5 million was allocated for the shooting, so as not to "burn out" too much after the likely failure.
However, the popularity of the book continued to break all records. When the number of sales in two years exceeded 9 million copies, Paramount agreed to increase the budget of the film to $ 6 million and leave the action in the 40s. That's just a new problem has matured…
Absolutely all the famous directors to whom the Paramount film company offered cooperation refused to work on the film, and even after the budget increase. The reason is the reluctance to romanticize crime. Even Warren Beatty, who previously played in "Bonnie and Clyde", said: "Anything, but not another movie about gangsters!".
Francis Ford Coppola
As a result, the company had to turn to a little-known at that time, Francis Coppola. But even he refused! The director did not like the large number of scenes of cruelty and sex. However, his close friend, George Lucas, brought Coppola to reason. "How can you refuse a money offer when you are all in debt, and you still need to feed your wife and three children?". After weighing all the pros and cons, Coppola still agreed to work on the tape. And later, when I thoughtfully read the book, I realized that it was not about bandits, but first of all — about the family.
The director was found. The most difficult thing left is to choose the cast. The producers wanted to see already famous actors in the main roles. For example, they offered to take James Caan for the role of Sunny Corleone, but the director saw Carmine Caridi in his place. Al Pacino in general seemed to them a complete incompetent, who does not play, but mumbles something under his breath! And only after the scene of Sollozzo's murder was filmed in the club, the producers and the director believed in his talent.
Then there was a problem with the choice of a performer for the role of Vito Corleone. Mario Puzo, working on this character, imagined Marlon Brando and no one else. Coppola agreed with him. But the producers completely refused to take him into the film – Brando was famous for his capricious character and demanded high fees.
Here again, the principle of "not with words, but with actions"worked. Coppola and the cameraman came to Brando's house and arranged auditions right there. And then the actor proved that he does not take a high salary for work for nothing. Before our eyes, he turned from a simple man in home clothes into a stern gangster: he turned up the collar of his shirt, gathered his long hair into a bun, crumpled several napkins and pushed them behind his cheeks. And then, in a low and hoarse voice, he began to utter his remark. Then Brando explained that a person with real power does not have to raise his voice to be listened to.
When, finally, the conflict between producers and directors subsided, a new "war" was brewing — this time with the real mafia. In the early 70s, the boss of one of the five New York mafia families, Joseph Colombo, organized the League for Civil Rights of Americans of Italian Descent. Members of the League did not like Puzo's book and how it developed a stereotype about Italian-Americans who are allegedly associated with the mafia. Naturally, when they learned about the release of the film, they were not happy.
They made this clear to Robert Evans, who was in charge of Paramount's film production. One day, a call came to the hotel room where he was staying with his wife and newborn son and said: "Here's a tip for you: don't make a movie. I would not like to spoil your face and harm your baby."
In such a situation, there was only one thing left – to curtail production, so as not to run into problems. But Evans did something else. He personally approached the boss of the League, Joe Colombo, and offered him to read the script. He explained that the film is not only about bad Italian-Americans – it has both a corrupt Irish cop and a dishonest Jewish producer. Then Colombo gave the go-ahead to shoot, but with one condition – the word "mafia"should not sound in the film.
After an agreement was reached between Paramount and Joseph Colombo, the mafia even began to assist in the filming of the film. Many members of criminal communities were present on the set, gave hints to the actors and controlled the process. One of the most famous participants in the filming of the film was an American mobster of Sicilian origin, the head of the Bufalino clan — Russell Bufalino (in the film" The Irishman " he is played by Joe Pesci).
Before the official premiere of "The Godfather", Coppola arranged a private screening for the mafia. They were delighted with the picture.
Do you like the movie "The Godfather"? If so, we definitely recommend you to get acquainted with 15 little‑known facts about this epic crime drama.