On This Day: The Godfather premiered 46 years ago

The Godfather Screenplay

It’s been 46 years since its premiere, and The Godfather is still arguably the greatest mafia film of all time. Not that we believe its depiction of mafia. (Not that it even matters.)

Back at its beginnings, it was important for Paramount Pictures to find an Italian-American director to adapt Mario Puzo’s mediocre novel into a blockbuster film. At that time, there were several names more famous and appreciated than Coppola, but they refused the offer.

One of the reasons was that they were not willing to pay too much for the project. So they decided to trust Coppola with the assignment, expecting him to be happy with the low budget. Or at least, not too unhappy.

Still, Coppola was not just a figure; he managed to secure a decent budget and to work his own way, using his own ideas. He also picked the main actors.

Speaking of actors, did you know that Paramount wasn’t happy with the idea of Marlon Brando playing Don Vito Corleone? His then-recent films were not convincing, and he was considered… well, a hard man to handle. He got the job. However he wasn’t paid too much for it. Now, we could hardly imagine anyone else playing Don Vito. Not every paterfamilias can snarl with such a calm authority.

There are no doubts that, after all, the Paramount guys were happy with being beaten– the movie brought a lot of money even before the premiere and became the greatest hit of the year 1972. The Godfather won many awards and became one of that handful of Hollywood films that everyone loves. Damn, one of the handful that even my grandma is fond of. (I’ve never figured out if she just likes the exciting plot or if she nurtures a secret admiration for mafia.)

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Unlike Don Vito himself (and that by mere chance), The Godfather never got old. So here’s a nice documentary about making the trilogy.

And leave the gun. Take the cannoli. For some more trivia, here’s a video of the cast reunion last year at Tribeca Film Festival. (Spoiler alert! Al thought the novel was too long. And dull, for that matter. Second that, Al!)

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