|SUMMARY: A shadowy epic following the fortunes of the fictitious Corleones, a powerful Mafia family with its own separate code of honor, justice, law and loyalty that transcends all other codes. Based on Mario Puzo's novel.E Online Factsheet|
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An offer he couldn't refuse
(thanks Michelle for this info)
Forget the Sopranos -- the Corleones are back!
Mark Winegardner, director of the creative writing program at Florida State University, has won a contest to continue the saga of Mario Puzo's fictional crime family.
The Godfather Returns is tentatively scheduled to come out in the fall of 2004.
''There are many stories left to tell,'' said Winegardner, 41, a fiction writer whose previous subjects include baseball, Cleveland and organized crime.
In an e-mail sent last fall to literary agents, Random House editor Jonathan Karp wrote that he was looking for ``someone who is in roughly the same place in life Mario Puzo was when he wrote The Godfather -- at mid-career, with two acclaimed literary novels to his credit, who writes in a commanding and darkly comic omniscient voice.''
Winegardner's books include the baseball novel Prophet of the Sandlots and Crooked River Burning, a class-conscious story set in Cleveland. Like Puzo, he has a knack for writing about crime. Unlike Puzo, he's not Italian.
''I am, however, German-Irish like [Corleone consiglieri] Tom Hagen, and he did just fine in this world,'' Winegardner said.
-- Compiled by MICHAEL HAMERSLY from staff and wire reports
Al Pacino's Brush With God
Al Pacino's greatest moment as an actor came when he got to do his first scene opposite Marlon Brando in The Godfather - because Brando is God. Pacino, who idolises Brando, says the experience of acting with him was one he'll never forget. He says, "Have you any idea what it was like to be doing a scene with him? I sat in the theatres when I was a kid just watching him. Now I'm playing a scene with him. He's God man." He adds, "There's no doubt every time I see Brando that I'm looking at a great actor. Whether he's doing great acting or not, you're seeing somebody who is in the tradition of the great actor. "What he does with it, that's something else, but he's got it all, the talent, the instrument is there, that's why he endured." And Pacino, who was a virtual unknown when Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the role as Michael Corleone, says the studios were convinced he'd be a disaster. He says, "They said I was too meek and mild for the part. But when we finished the movie, the same people who were against me and put me down whenever they could were all for me."
'Godfather' Saga Set to Continue
Publishing giant Random House is to release another Godfather book - three years after author Mario Puzo died. The saga, about the troubled Corleone family, will continue - but under the pen of a new author, who is yet to be named. After making the first three books into critically revered films starring Al Pacino, Paramount have the first option on the film rights to the new installment. A spokesman for Random House says, "These characters just keep pulling you back in. There is enormous continuing interest in the Corleone family, and a great opportunity to tell a story that could take place before, during or after the original book." However, the publishers are already scorching comparisons to the original books by saying the idea is to continue the story, not compete with the previous writing. The new author should be announced next month.
New Godfather Sequel of Paramount Importance, Tue, Oct 22, 2002
HOLLYWOOD (Zap2it.com) Paramount Pictures might be adding another Godfather movie to its successful franchise based on Mario Puzo's famous books.
The late author's editor, Jonathan Karp, who works for Random House Trade Group, has negotiated with Puzo's estate to tie down the rights to the books' characters. His intention is to find a writer to continue the Corleone saga in future drafts.
"We hope Paramount or some other studio will want to buy the movie rights, and it is our intention to see that happen," Karp tells Variety.
Although no details of the deal with the estate have been released, it is rumored to be one of the most expensive sequel deals ever made for a deceased author.
"These characters just keep pulling you back in," Karp says. "There is enormous continuing interest in the Corleone family, and a great opportunity to tell a story that could take place before, during or after the original book. Mario once told me he wished he had done more with Sonny Corleone's character, and there was certainly more opportunity to explore the singer Johnny Fontaine. And Michael Corleone did make an appearance at the beginning and end of 'The Sicilian,' because he had a relationship with the freedom fighter."
Godfather and "The Godfather Part II," both directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, won best picture Oscars in the mid-'70s. Coppola also directed a less-successful "The Godfather Part III," starring Pacino and Andy Garcia.
AL PACINO'S LOFT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
A Conversation with Gray Frederickson
by Debra Rives
Looking at the photograph of college freshman Harry G. Frederickson Jr. in the 1956 University of Oklahoma yearbook, smiling broadly and with a stylish, crisp crewcut, there is no hint of what is to come. No sign that nineteen years later he would be accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture for The Godfather II or that he would soon become one of Hollywoods most illustrious film producers. Gray Frederickson - he dropped his first name while in college in favor of his middle name - has enjoyed a long and successful career producing some of the worlds most important films. Three of his films, The Godfather, The Godfather II and Apocalypse Now are on the American Film Institutes list of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. He has won a number of awards for his work, including the Oscar for The Godfather Part II, which he keeps on his desk in his den. Its been so long that its almost like it was another life, another person, he says. Winning the Academy Award was the highlight of my career.
Frederickson, his wife Karen and their 2 young daughters, Kelsey and Tyler, returned to Oklahoma City a year ago so that he could realize his dream of building a world-class film studio in his hometown. Dressed sharply in a pair of olive green slacks and a green, brown and tan checked sports coat and looking younger than his 63 years, the soft-spoken Frederickson recently took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and discuss his career in the filmmaking industry. Stopping to get a cherry Icee drink before the interview, he methodically and painstakingly counted out coin after coin to pay for the drink. Typical behavior for a producer who is responsible for a films finances? Actually, I hate that aspect of producing the money, says Frederickson.
Gray Frederickson fell into the moviemaking business completely by accident. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 1960 with a business degree, he went to Switzerland and ski bummed around Europe, eventually landing a job in Rome as a trainee on a road survey crew for an engineering company. He got the job through some people he had met while skiing. He hated it but loved being in Rome. It was the heyday of Rome, the dolce vita days in the early sixties, said Frederickson. There were some people making a movie and they asked if I wanted to produce it because they thought I was rich. I was making $300 a month and was driving around Rome in a white Maserati convertible. I was spending $150 a month for that car, more for the car than for my apartment. I came back to Oklahoma to raise $20,000 from some people that I had grown up with. And we made our first movie and that got me started.
That first movie was called Natika, starring John Barrymore Jr., better known today as Drews father. The film is a tragedy about a young Welsh harpist who is in love with a playboy and ends up committing suicide when her lover dumps her. I took it to the Cannes festival and sold it to a couple of territories. We didnt get all of our money back. But I met a lot of Italian filmmakers and they started hiring me as a production person because of my language abilities I speak Italian and French. So that was my entrée. This was a period when they were doing lots of movies in Italy, changing their names to American names, and masquerading as American films because Italian films werent doing anything at the box office. They would hire a "B movie actor, John Ireland or Henry Silva or someone from America, shoot 2 or 3 weeks in the United States and then do the rest in Italy and put American names on the films. People would go see it and think it was an American movie. I became the expert at doing those movies. We did 20 or 30 of them. One of them was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."
His work on that 1967 Sergio Leone film led to his friendship with Clint Eastwood, which in turn led him to Al Ruddy and, eventually, to The Godfather. Frederickson and Eastwood had returned to California after making the The Good The Bad and The Ugly and were hanging out when Eastwood was approached by Al Ruddy and Als partner, Brian Hutton, to do a picture called Kings X. Eastwood brought Frederickson along because I was his friend and producer. During pre-production, Hutton and Eastwood left to do another film, Where Eagles Dare, and Ruddy and Frederickson were left without a movie to do. Ruddy suggested that he and Frederickson do a motorcycle-racing picture at Paramount called Little Faus and Big Halsey with Robert Redford, Michael J. Pollard and Lauren Hutton. Because it did so well for so cheap we made it for a million dollars they gave us The Godfather to produce for the studio. They didnt know what to do with The Godfather, says Frederickson. They had had a lot of bad luck with a 1968 picture called The Brotherhood, with Kirk Douglas and Alex Cord. The picture didnt do anything and they said, oh boy, Mafia pictures dont do well at the box office. So they just said make it cheap and fast and do it like you did Little Faus and Big Halsey, which we had planned on doing until Francis joined us and changed it and made it the book.
The book, of course, is Mario Puzos The Godfather, the romanticized story of the close-knit Corleone crime family. Published in 1969 to critical acclaim, it went on to remain on the bestseller list for sixty-seven weeks. Paramount had bought the rights to it for $80,000 3 months before it was published. Considering that it went on to earn over 85 million in its initial release, it is understandable that its often said that Paramount made the deal of the century. Six months after its March 15, 1972 opening, it became the biggest grossing film of all time, surpassing Gone with the Wind. The record was broken just a year later by The Exorcist, but it remains a phenomenal achievement for its time.
The Godfather is among the most celebrated landmark films in history. It re-invented the dramatic gangster genre with its deep character studies, gorgeous photography, authentic recreation of the period and a memorably haunting score by Nino Rota. It garnered ten Oscar nominations and won three awards, including Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Best Screenplay (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola) and Best Picture.
Frederickson recently saw the film on television for the first time in many years. Its just amazing, he said. I had been clicking through the channels and I just sat down and watched it. Its a good movie. Yes, but did he think he would still be talking about it 30 years later? Not at all. It turned out to be a classic, didnt it?
Rolling Stone recently interviewed the cast of the HBO hit series, "The Sopranos", and revealed that Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) has seen the first Godfather about 100 times, and the second one about 50. Steven Van Zandt (Silvio), whose frequent imitation of Al Pacinos Michael Corleone is one of the highlights of the show, has seen both of them about 50 times. Michael Imperioli (Christopher) claims that for the past 20 years his family has had a tradition of watching the first 3 hours of the entire saga on Christmas Eve and then the rest on Christmas morning. Its amazing, isnt it? Frederickson says, laughing. They know every line of dialogue in the movie. He adds that he is a huge fan of "The Sopranos". I watch it every Sunday night.
Frederickson thinks that the reason people are so interested in stories about the mob is because of the sense of power they have. On The Sopranos, it sums it all up when Dr. Melfi got raped by that guy and she says, just to know that I could stamp him like a bug if I wanted to, just telling this guy here. And youre waiting for that to happen. Its got to happen, dont you think? he says excitedly. You want it so bad. I want her to slip and say yeah, ok, this guy .and have it taken care of.
When Peter Biskinds 1998 book on the golden era of 70s filmmaking, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is mentioned, Frederickson scowls and rolls his eyes. He didnt say one nice thing about anybody in that book. He put down everybody, from Spielberg to Francis to everyone. He said that George Lucas was destined to only make Star Wars for the rest of his life and that Francis is a sad old character sitting in his vineyards selling wine and reveling in the past. It was just terrible. He said that Francis spent all his time in hot tubs with girls in front of his wife while I was procuring girls for him. I talked to Francis about it later and asked where were all of these girls? I never saw any of them. And Francis said he didnt know. So I wish it was true. But it wasnt.
Regardless, Biskind does chronicle the well-known difficulties that surrounded The Godfather, including the disagreement between Coppola and studio head Bob Evans over the length of the film. Evans claims in his book, The Kid Stays in the Picture, that he never wanted a shorter film but that Francis did. Frederickson agrees with Biskind that that didnt happen. Evans wanted the film to be shorter. Francis had cut a shorter version and thought it was okay, he could live with it. He showed it to Evans and Evans said no, you have to make it longer. You were right, it shouldnt be shorter, it should be longer.
There was also a huge controversy over the hiring of Al Pacino to play Michael Corleone. Pacino, who had only one starring film role (The Panic in Needle Park) before being cast in The Godfather, was constantly being asked to audition and kept blowing his lines. Evans would refer to Pacino as that little dwarf and that midget Pacino. Thirty years later, however, Fredericksons memory is a little hazy. Didnt Evans like Pacino? he asks quizically. Reminded of Evans comments about Pacinos stature, Frederickson acknowledges that he was too short and we had a problem because Sonny was going to be played by Carmine Caridi, who was six foot four and they looked like Mutt and Jeff. And then Carmine Caridi dropped out and Jimmy Caan was going to do it. I dont remember all the different things. It went back and forth between two or three different people. Fred Roos has got it down by rote. I mean, he was there for the whole thing. Thats what he did. He was the casting guy. I was busy doing other things. I was looking for locations and getting the picture ready to go. I wasnt involved in the day-to-day crisis of who was going to be Sonny today or who was going to be Michael tomorrow. He laughs then continues, It was changing daily.
Most accounts of The Godfather report that Evans was a terror to work with. Not at all, says Frederickson. First of all, Bob Evans was never on the set, not once. I never saw him there. He was running a studio. Hes a nice guy. I like Bob a lot. He was a good guy even when we were making the picture. For some reason he and some of the executives, not Peter Bart as much, but some of the other people, a guy named Jack Ballard who was an old school, old-fashioned production guy, started whispering in their ear all the time that Francis didnt know what he was doing, that we were taking too much time to shoot the scenes, and that everything was too dark. This guy came out of Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies. So he started playing on their insecurities. The head of the studio is responsible to the board of directors, Charlie Bludhorn in this case, and hes saying, my God, if these guys are right, these are the old pros from Hollywood, theyre telling me that this is bad. So he started the wheel in motion to replace Francis. And I found out about it and I told Francis about it and we started heading off all the attempted coups and that, I think, is what sort of bonded Francis and me and why I stayed on with him when Evans and Al Ruddy were pushed aside. Frederickson and Coppola went on to have a twenty-year professional association that included The Outsiders, Apocalypse Now, One from the Heart and The Godfather II and III.
The Godfather III, the last installment in Coppolas malevolent majesty, The Godfather Trilogy, is a flawed masterpiece that suffers from the absence of Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen. Asked why Duvall wasnt in the film, Frederickson quickly answers Money. Whatever Pacino got, he [Duvall] wanted. And the studio wouldnt do it. They would only give him a million dollars. Hes not worth five million and Pacino is.
Frederickson agrees that the absence of Duvall was a problem for the film. As was the casting of Coppolas non-actress daughter, Sofia, to play the crucial role of Pacinos daughter Mary. Winona Ryder had been signed to play Mary but dropped out shortly after the film had begun production, citing mental exhaustion. He tried without success to talk Coppola out of casting his daughter as Mary. Oh yeah. That was a big thing. I really fought him on that. I think he knew at the time [it was a bad decision] but he couldnt back down. He had made such a big thing about it.
He doesnt believe there will ever be a Godfather IV since Mario [Puzo] is dead, but concedes that Paramount could do it without anyones input if they wanted to because they own the rights to it. Francis, you know, if he needed the money, could probably be talked into it. He doesnt need the money anymore, hes become such a huge mogul with his vineyards. So I dont think they can ever talk him into it.
Coppola is currently working on a four-DVD set of The Godfather that will include the sequels and a bonus disc of extras, to be released later this year. Although Frederickson is not personally involved in the DVD project, he did receive a call recently from the films production designer. All I know [about the project] is I got a call from Dean Tavoularis a few weeks ago when he was in New York driving around. He wanted to know if I could remember the name of the street that we revamped for the old New York sequence. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was doing stuff for the DVD and needed to go on that street and shoot some stuff now, today.
Its been said that what Coppola does really well is spend money. Did Frederickson ever have to tell him no? Oh God. Every day. It was a constant battle every day. When we were doing a movie called One From the Heart, Francis said, why do we have to have wrap parties at the end of every shoot? Lets have one at the end of each week. So every Friday night we would have a wrap party. He would have a band, food, beer and drinks and we would celebrate the week. And these wrap parties were costing us ten and fifteen thousand bucks each week. I remember going into his trailer which he loved and he had all these little plates with his logo and his name on them and I started talking to him and said we should stop these wrap parties Francis, theyre killing us. He went crazy. He tore up the trailer, busted all of his little plates. He had this big tantrum and he said If we cant afford to have a wrap party we cant afford to be making this movie. And after he destroyed the trailer he said, See what youve done now? Youve cost us more than the wrap party. That was the kind of stuff I put up with every day. It was a constant struggle. Francis always has to have an adversary. If its the studio then the suits can be the heavy, the person he hates, the person hes fighting and battling with. Art vs. business. But when its his own money or when he has free reign and the studios arent battling with him, hes got to have somebody and I was that person. So I was always fighting with him about money. Always. He quickly adds that Francis is bigger than life. Hes wonderful.
Wonderful or not, this helps explain why One From the Heart started with a 12 million dollar budget but ultimately cost 27 million. It closed after only seven weeks and made less than 2.5 million dollars. The films failure caused the collapse of Coppolas Zoetrope Studios and forced him to file for bankruptcy.
There have been other films besides The Godfather, of course. In 1983 he arrived in Tulsa to film The Outsiders with Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell and Tom Cruise. It still holds up, he says of the film. And who could forget the Weird Al classic, UHF? Its a big cult film, he laughs. You cant get the tapes. Weird Al is a bright guy, a really sweet guy.
And then theres Apocalypse Now. The 1979 film is legendary for the problems that occurred both on and off the set. It was supposed to be a sixteen-week shoot but ended up with 278 days of principal photography. I had two birthdays there, sighs Frederickson. The shoot was plagued with crises like Martin Sheens heart attack and typhoons that destroyed all the sets. Still, that wasnt his worst experience as a producer. That dubious distinction goes to his newest film, South of Heaven, West of Hell, an existential western written and directed by his old friend Dwight Yoakum and starring Yoakum, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda and Bo Hopkins. Shot in 26 days, it was his first experience in the world of independent films. Frederickson calls it the most difficult thing hes been through in his life. We ran out of money. Our funding fell through and we had to finish the picture. It was much more intense and debilitating than Apocalypse Now because we didnt have a studio or anybody to bail us out. Apocalypse was troubled but you knew the picture was going to get made. Theres nothing as taxing or stressful as making your own little movie. We were literally putting it on our credit cards. We called in favors from all of our actor friends. It was just sort of a labor of love. The good news is that we sold it. Its going to open June 15 in selected cities around the country and then well see if it finds an audience. Its already sold on video and DVD to Trimark so, hopefully, well be able to pay off some of our credit cards.
Frederickson describes the film as Yoakums homage to the independent films of the 50s and 60s, United Artists and some of the Peckinpah movies. Its a weird, offbeat little movie. This one you will definitely remember and think about and wonder about and say, what the hell were they doing? He smiles and then continues. But we had fun and Im proud of it. I think considering that it was very little money and only 26 days, we managed to pull this thing together against all odds.
Not bad for a fun-loving kid from Oklahoma. Will he ever write a book about his experiences in Hollywood? Ive thought about it. People are always asking me to do it, but when do I have time to write a book? Maybe when you retire when youre around 90 years old or so? Ill be about 90, he says, laughing. I have two kids to put through college.
Gray Fredrickson Internet Movie Database Page
Lincoln Center Pays Tribute to Coppola
(thanks Anne Rech for this info)
(indieWIRE/05.09.02) -- On the eve of the upstart Tribeca Film Festival's opening night, one of the New York films scene's more storied annual events took place at Lincoln Center. On Tuesday, more than 2,800 attendees made their way to Avery Fisher Hall (in black tie, no less) for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's gala tribute to legendary director Francis Ford Coppola.
Once the cell phones were turned off and the jewelry stopped rattling, the house lights went down, and, several seconds later, Martin Sheen's camouflaged face emerged from a pool of water. The scene, from "Apocalypse Now" (or "Apocalypse Now Redux," depending on who you ask), was met with rapturous applause.
For the next two hours, those in attendance were treated to a montage of moments from Coppola's astounding body of work, which seemed all the more impressive when viewed as a group. In between the clips, some of the director's old (and very famous) pals took the stage to reminisce and pay
tribute, including Al Pacino, Jeff Bridges, Diane Lane, and Coppola's sister Talia Shire.
But the highpoint of the evening was undoubtedly Coppola himself, who used his time at the mic to assert the conviction that has in many ways defined his career: that creative minds, not the execs or the bean counters, should be given more control over the filmmaking process. "The motion picture companies have been turned into collateral to fuel the ambitions of the people who own them," said the director, who in the early '80s attempted and ultimately failed to create an alternative to the Hollywood system with Zoetrope Studios. "It has been my dream and my hope that the cinema, and
artists in general, can be something other than employees,"
Afterwards, the phalanx of well-dressed guests made their way east to Central Park, where the party at continued at Tavern on the Green.
The Godfather, but with singing and dancing, Coppola's classic to be remade in Bollywood's image
(thanks Lisa for this info)
Barrett Hooper, National Post
The American film classic The Godfather is going to be remade in India in a version in the Hindi language that will feature singing and comedy, according to the producer.
Indian films, often referred to as "Bollywood" productions, are known for their elaborate song-and-dance routines and melodramatic storylines.
In keeping with Bollywood tradition, the remake, called Kutumb (Family), "will be an Indian version with songs, action, comedy," said the film's producer, A.G. Nadiadwala.
The original Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972, was based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel charting the rise and near fall of the Corleones, an Italian-American Mafia family, and the passage of power from patriarch to son. It went on to garner nine Academy Award nominations, winning three, including best picture.
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, who was once the biggest star in India and most recently hosted that country's hugely successful version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, has been cast in the role made famous by Marlon Brando, that of the marble-mouthed Mafia don of the title.
Bachchan's real-life son, Abhishek, is to play his on-screen son, although it is unclear whether he will fill the shoes of James Caan as the dutiful Sonny Corleone, who is killed near the end of the movie, or Michael Corleone, the reluctant heir to a Mob empire, played by Al Pacino, who gets pulled back in for two sequels.
While this is the first Bollywood film to directly remake The Godfather, it is at least the second to claim direct inspiration from the mafia saga. The musical Dhartmatma (The Great Soul) came out three years after the original Godfather and was hailed at the time as "India's answer" to that film.
Strangely, Brando, who refused to accept his best actor Oscar for playing Don Corleone as a way of protesting discrimination against native American people (he sent a fake Indian woman to the ceremony in his place), played an Eastern mystic in 1968's Candy, a horribly misguided adaptation of the Terry Southern satirical novel that was itself a sendup of Voltaire's classic Candide. In the film, Candy is a nubile young college girl who seeks truth and meaning in life, encountering a variety of kookie characters -- including Brando's ersatz-accented guru -- along the way.
Candy is currently available on video and DVD, while The Godfather trilogy is being released on DVD with special editions next month.
As for Kutumb, audiences will have to wait until sometime late next year to find out if Luca Brasi still sleeps with the fishes, if the horse's head has been replaced with that of a sacred cow, or if it's better to leave the gun and just take the gulab jamun.
Al Presents Coppola with DW Griffith Award At the Director's Guild of America Awards, Variety, March 9, 1998
Al Pacino gave the D.W. Griffith Award for lifetime achievement to Francis Ford Coppola, who directed him in the three Godfather movies and who is renowned for other films like Apocalypse Now, The Cotton Club and John Grishams The Rainmaker.
Pacinos most memorable comments about Coppola were that he does a bizarre imitation of John Wayne and that, on location in a cemetery for The Godfather, Pacino had come upon Coppola sobbing on a tombstone because, he told Pacino, They wont give me another set-up.
"Carlo's second life", Boston Globe, Tuesday, December 14, 1999, by Michael Fleming
Lee Strasberg and Al in Godfather II
NEW YORK (Variety) - Some 28 years after making his movie debut as Carlo in ''The Godfather,'' Gianni Russo has decided to be a full-time actor.
Russo can be seen alongside Al Pacino in Oliver Stone's ''Any Given Sunday,'' which opens Dec. 22, and just got a supporting role in the Curtis Hanson-directed ''Family Man.''
Back when Paramount declared plans to cast unknowns for ''Godfather,'' Russo, a Vegas jewelry store owner, filmed a test for three roles: Michael and Sonny Corleone and Carlo, the son-in-law who beats his wife and sells out the family. Russo wore producer Al Ruddy down with persistence to get the Carlo role.
''Not being an actor, I made myself useful to Francis Coppola because I knew Staten Island,'' Russo recalled. ''They couldn't find the right place for the Corleone family compound. My grandfather was a gardener at that house on Longfellow Road, and I knew the people. They got the compound cheap -- all the guy wanted was a new roof. I got them the band that played at my first wedding -- Nino Morelli -- to play at Carlo's wedding, and they used the same pastry chef.''
Russo said that as a non-pro, he got the cold shoulder from most of his castmates, though Marlon Brando eventually warmed up to him. ''I had this Bentley and a driver ... Brando calls me into his makeup room, asks me if the studio provided the car. I tell him it's my car and he asks if I mind driving him to work everyday. He taught me how to act, and coached me through the toughest scene, where Michael tells me I have to answer for Santino.''
Despite the high-profile debut, Russo acted in pics like ''The Freshman'' and ''Striptease'' only as a hobby. ''Then I had this tremendous setback in my life: I came to a woman's rescue when she was being brutally cut up by a customer in a Latin club in my casino. He broke a champagne bottle and jammed it in her face. Nobody jumped in except me, because she would have died. I got 100-plus stitches myself and wound up killing him.''
Russo wrote a script about the ordeal that turned into the 1996 Showtime pic ''For Which He Stands.'' The experience made him rethink his casual attitude toward acting, especially when another big chance presented itself.
''I stayed friendly with Pacino, and when we got together, he told me about this football movie.'' Russo arranged Pacino and Oliver Stone to meet his pal, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bolan; on that weekend trip, Pacino decided to base his character on head coach Mike Shanahan. Returning from that trip on the Warner jet, ''I see they're happy and, me being a businessman, I say to Oliver, 'What about me?' Oliver says, 'What are you, an actor?' Al tells him I played Carlo and he offers me a role as team vice president with one line. I took it, and it turned into four months of work. I even helped get them use of the Orange Bowl.
''Here I am 28 years later with a big movie with Al and a major director,'' said Russo. ''This time, even if I have to live in a tent to do it, I'm going to make it as an actor.''
Original review Variety gave the Godfather.
With several million hardcover and paperback books acting as trailers, Paramounts film version of Mario Puzos sprawling gangland novel, The Godfather, has a large pre-sold audience.
This will bolster the potential for the film which has an outstanding performance by Al Pacino and a strong characterisation by Marlon Brando in the title role. It also has excellent production values, flashes of excitement, and a well-picked cast.
But it is also overlong at about 175 minutes (played without intermission), and occasionally confusing. While never so placid as to be boring, it is never so gripping as ) be superior screen drama. This should not mar Paramount's boxoffice expectations in any measure, though some filmgoers may be disappointed.
QUOTES ABOUT THE FILM
(seeing "Godfather" again) "I went to the ah... the 25th anniversary of Godfather One. And I hadn't seen that on ah... on a big screen EVER, really. Because when it opened... when it first opened I went in but I didn't stay. I was too nervious. So.. But I saw it for the first time on a big screen. I'd seen it on the small screen. And that was interesting to see... it. And everybody was there from the original. It was interesting... the reaction to it. Uh... so... your... your... your feeling is that uh... I guess it's like looking at an old photograph of yourself. You wonder... (laughs) just wonder. You just say well I mean... you know... you know you just say (laughs) I can't quite relate."
During the filming of the first installment, she considered herself grievously miscast and felt isolated from the rest of the mostly Italian ensemble. "I didn't know what the hell was going on," she explains. "I didn't know anything about making movies. And I was just thrust into it." Today, she figures Coppola intentionally excluded her, since her character is also an outsider. And she thinks the first two movies are brilliant. (More Magazine, July/August 2001)
ROBERT DUVALL (Tom Hagen)
"Pacino would try to moon me from behind a tombstone over in the cemetery or up in the lighting catwalk," Duvall says. "We were always doing it, even with women and children around. Brando actually gave us all championship belts for our mooning. Then one day one woman approached me and said, `Mr. Duvall, you were great,' then turned to her friend and said, `But did you catch the (taters) on Brando?' "
JAMES CAAN (Sonny)
Idol Chatter, by Robert Abele, October 2000 (I think this is from "Premiere Magazine" but I'm not sure)
It seems that anyone connected to The Godfather has a story about how they made it work. What's your take?
They're all full of shit. Everything was Francis [Ford Coppola], trust me. The great story is that Francis gets the script; calls me, Bobby [Duvall], Al [Pacino], and [Marlon] Brando; we go up to San Francisco, and for the price of four corned beef sandwiches, we did a couple of improvs. He sent this [to Paramount] and said, "This is my cast." Two months later, I get a call from Francis. "Jimmy, why don't you come in and test?" "Test what? A Porsche?" He says, "Please. They want you to play Michael." But Francis knew; he wanted Sonny to be the Americanized guy in the family. So I flew in, and they had every actor you could mention there. The studio spent $420,000 doing that, a huge sum in those days, and Francis wound up with the same cast he had for the four corned beef sandwiches.
You're German-Jewish, but thanks to your portrayal of Sonny, everyone thinks you're Italian.
I won the Italian of the Year twice in New York. I kept saying, "You don't -understand. I can't accept this!"
DOMINIC CHIANESE (Johnny Ola)
When I did "Godfather II" with Pacino, my first scene as Johnny Ola was to come in, introduce myself, sit down and have a talk with Michael Corleone. And I had my speech, of course, all worked out. I knew it backwards and forwards, but as we're shooting the scene, Coppola says, "Oh, cut for a second, Dominic. I want you to change the names...you know, to change the names of the lawyers in that scene." I said, "OK." We take it again, and of course, when we I got to the lawyers' names, I don't know 'em. So he says, "Cut. That's all right, Dom. Let's take it again. Oh, by the way" he says, "change it from Sidney to Allan." So, I don't know what he's doing, right? Pacino's looking at me, staring at me. So, I'm going through, and of course, I went up (forgot his lines) again.
I couldn't remember the guy's name. Because Coppola was getting me nervous. I didn't realize this was the director's technique, I had no idea. So, I try it again. At one point, Pacino gets up and walks away. And I said, "Oh my God, is this the end of my acting career?" And Al comes back and says, "No Dominic. No, no, it's not you. Don't worry about it." Coppola changed the name purposely, to get me a little edgy, and it worked. Believe me it worked. It worked very well. I learned a
lot about film acting in that moment. Later, the door opens, and Michael Corleone's son is there in his white communion suit, looking just like me when I was a kid. [This bit does not appear in the finished film.] And I looked at the kid and I raised my eyebrow maybe one hundredth of a fraction higher than I had before, and Coppola said, "Cut! You did something different with your eyebrow." In film, the good directors, they're always watching you, closely. Salon.com
There are several versions of the Godfather films:
The Godfather I
The Godfather II
The Godfather III
The Godfather Trilogy
The Godfather Collection
The Godfather: The Complete Epic
The Godfather Collection - 25th Anniversary Edition
The Godfather Epic: the director's cut
The Godfather Family: A Look Inside
The Godfather I soundtrack
The Godfather II soundtrack
The Godfather III soundtrack
The Godfather Suite soundtrack
The Godfather Family Wedding Album
"The Godfather Trilogy" is a 5-tape collection of of all three Godfathers arranged in chronological order. It includes scenes not shown in the orignial releases. The box set also includes "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside," a making-of tape.
"The Complete Epic" and was done before Part three and so is pretty much One and Two together in chronological order, also with new scenes. Strangely, not all these scenes were included in Trilogy, though there are Trilogy scenes not shown in Epic. (you can read more about the scenes included or left out here)
The suite version (soundtrack) has "redone" versions of the movie songs by Puzo. It also contains some that aren't on the original soundtracks.
The film made $86,275,000 at the box office, and was the #1 hit in 1972 (source "The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits", 1990 (before DVDs and maybe even videos. As I understand it this is the amount of money made by the studios when it was released, renting prints of it to the movie theaters to show.)
It was made by Paramount Studios.
In 1966, Paramount bought a 20-page outline for a story from Mario Puzo for $7,500. Before the book "The Godfather" was published, the studio paid him another $80, 000, gave him an office and secretary on the lot, and had him finish the novel. The book went on to become one of the best-sellers of all time: 500, 000 copies in hardcover, 10,000,000 paperback copies in print (source "The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits")
There was a backlash from the Italian-American Civil Rights League, a group reportedly headed by Joseph Columbo, the reputed don of one of New York City's five Mafia families. The group held an anti-Godfather-movie rally in Madison Square Garden, raising $600, 000 for their cause. According to reports in Time, the offices of Gulf and Western, Paramount's parent company in New York, had to be evacuated twice because of bomb threats. In the end, the League was only successful in getting the producers to substitute all references to "the Mafia" with "the family." (source "The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits")
Brando refused the Academy's award for Best Actor, sending his proxy to the ceremony in the form of a Native American named Sacheen Littlefeather, who dolefully walked on stage to refuse the Oscar while moaning the treatment of Indians in Hollywood. The Academy didn't seem to mind, and later nominated the twofold winner for his eighth chance at Oscar, for Last Tango in Paris (1973). (source "The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits")
Ninety percent of the movie was shot on the streets of New York City and its suburbs, with the remaining ten percent filmed on a soundstage in the Bronx. Additional footage was shot in Sicily. (source "The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits")
The studio reluctantly gave Coppola the go-ahead to cast Brando but only with certain strict conditions. He was to be offered only expenses in advance, and to give various guarantees of cooperation. He was also to submit to the indignity of a screen test. (source: "The Hollywood Reporter Book of Box Office Hits")
Lawrence Olivier was preferred by the studio for Don Corleone.
Zagat Survey Movie Guide: 1,000 Top Films of All Time lists The Godfather as the best movie of all time according to a survey of... well... a bunch of people. A thousand I think. (thanks Jennifer for this info)
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS (3 WINS *)
*Best Actor (Marlon Brando)
Best Supporting Actor (James Caan)
Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall)
Best Supporting Actor (Al Pacino)
Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola)
*Best Screenplay Based on Material trom Another Medium (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola)
Best Film Editing
Best Costume Design
When Michael makes a phone call from a booth outside Radio City Music Hall (after discovering that his father had been shot), a Volkswagen is visible in the background. The year is supposed to be 1945. Volkswagens didn't arrive in North America until the 1950's.
There is a "No Smoking" sign in the hospital where Don Corleone is recovering from his bullet wounds. That sign has Edward Cavanaugh's name on it. (Caveanaugh was the fire commissioner of New York City in 1971 when the film was shot).
The front page of a 1945 newspaper carried an index of listing of TV shows at the bottom. Television was not yet available at that time.
Don Corleone is hit at the end of 1945. In The Godfather, Part II, we are told (in the Senate hearings) that Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey in 1947. But, in Part 1, these events are treated as if they happened within weeks of each other. (Indeed, Don Corleone is still recuperating when Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey).
But the biggest blooper of all goes to William F. Buckley (and this is an excerpt from his review when the film was first released): "Far from surviving as the "Gone With The Wind" of gangster movies, my guess is that The Godfather will be as quickly forgotten as it deserves to be."
Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Box set, Dolby
Number of discs: 5
Disc 1 THE GODFATHER (with Coppola commentary)
Disc 2/3 THE GODFATHER, PART II (with Coppola commentary)
Disc 4 THE GODFATHER, PART III (with Coppola commentary)
Disc 5 THE GODFATHER BONUS MATERIALS (
as of now the dvds are not available individually
Disc 5 contains the following:
"Francis Coppola's Notebook": an inside look at Coppola and the creative process, taking the "The Godfather" from book to screen
"On Location" with Academy Award(R)-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis, who goes back to New York's Lower East Side for a look at some of the original locations where "The Godfather" films were shot
"The Godfather Family: A Look Inside": a 73-minute documentary on the films' origins, including original screen tests and rehearsals
"The Godfather Behind the Scenes 1971" - a featurette from the original theatrical release
Additional scenes: scenes that were added to later versions of the original films, presented within a timeline of events from 1898 forward that chronicles the Corleones' rise and real-life events;
"The Cinematography of The Godfather," featuring Gordon Willis
"The Music of the Godfather": two featurettes looking at the unforgettable musical contributions of Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola
"Coppola and Puzo on Screenwriting": the collaboration of the novelist and filmmaker adapting the book to the screen
Storyboards from THE GODFATHER PART II and animatic storyboards from THE GODFATHER PART III
"The Corleone Family Tree": character and cast biographies
Academy Award(R) acceptance speeches
Photo galleries with captions
"The Godfather Bonus Materials Disc" has approximately three hours and 20 minutes of bonus video features and nearly 300 informative menu pages and still images.
All discs are encoded with the Macrovision(TM) AntiCopy process.
Hidden Extra "Easter
Eggs" (thanks romeox for this info)
On the SET UP screen, arrow right from any option and a little Planet Earth will appear; press Enter and you'll be treated to a little 2-minute bit of Godfather clips in multiple languages.
Click on the FAMILY TREE, then go to "Santino (Sonny) 1916-1948", press Enter. On the next screen, again highlight the same choice ("Santino 1916-1948") and press Enter again - this brings up a screen on young and older Sonny. Arrow up and highlight the picture on the right (James Caan) and press Enter - this will bring you to an info screen on James Caan. Arrow left to highlight his picture and hit Enter to see a hilarious little clip of Caan doing a Marlon Brando impression as part of his screen test.
From the MAIN MENU go to GALLERIES and from that screen choose DVD CREDITS. There, hit NEXT four times and this will bring you to a scene from "The Sopranos" of the boys at the 'Bada Bing!' watching what they think is a bootleg DVD of The Godfather. A Great scene!
And there's another one, which can be found in the 'Filmmakers' section on the bonus disc. Go there and select 'Mario Puzo's' biography. Once you get there, press the 'Left' arrow key on your remote control twice and a large dollar sign will apear. It gives yo uaccess to a short clip, in Coppola asks the writer, why he actually wrote 'The Godfather.' Puzo's answer to it is quite revealing...
...dirty cop... strictly business
(124k) ...just my enemies
|FILM LINKS||CAST LINKS|
Buy the Godfather Collection (all 3 on video)
The Godfather Collection (Widescreen Edition)
Buy the DVD
John De Rosa's Godfather Trilogy Appreciation Page
A large page with lots of Godfather goodies,
including a page for Al
The Godfather Trilogy
A huge page devoted to these movies. Everything you
ever wanted to know about the GDFather pictures and more.
Internet Movie Database, IMDB
E! Online Factsheet
Reel, Hollywood Online (buy it here)
Page on the house used in the Tahoe scenes in "Godfather II"
More pictures of the house used in the Tahoe scenes from J Geoff's Godfather site
Fleur du Lac, a page on the estate in Tahoe used for "Godfather II"
ET Weekly 100 Greatest Moments in Movies
Robert De Niro Mailing List
Luke Wallwin's Godfather page