Last month, The Godfather celebrated its 45th anniversary at the Tribeca Film Festival. The whole cast including director Francis Ford Coppola came together after a screening at Radio City Music Hall to answer questions. On a real surprising note, the director spoke about a huge complication that came up during the shooting of the movie.
Francis Ford Coppola spoke about how for the auditions, Al Pacino had initially walked in for the role of Sonny Corleone but it was himself who told Al that he suited the role of Michael Corleone more. Tensions arose at production when Paramount Pictures didn’t want Al Pacino playing the part of Michael Corleone and it was in fact director Francis Ford Coppola who insisted on keeping him. During the Anniversary, Al spoke about how he wanted to get out when he got aware of all the disliking towards him by the production house but it was Francis who kept him from going. Meanwhile, Robert De Niro also walked in to do an audition for Sonny but Francis told him he’d suit the role of Paulie Gatto more. Around the same time that year, ‘The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight’, a comedy-drama was having its auditions and this is where things got haywire.
Robert De Niro wanted to audition for the ‘The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight’ but was hesitant considering he didn’t want to lose the role of Paulie Gatto. Francis told De Niro that he’d keep the part of Paulie Gatto reserved for him in case he didn’t get a role in the movie, but what Francis didn’t expect was Al Pacino auditioning for the movie too. At the end, Robert De Niro didn’t get a part in the movie but Al Pacino had gotten one. Al was now stuck because he had a written contract with Paramount Pictures, who had eventually gotten around to casting him, for ‘The Godfather’ and now one with MGM Productions for ‘The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight’. Here’s where things get interesting. Sydney Korshak, a mob lawyer who represented the Chicago mob in Hollywood was called in. He didn’t have an office but had all the right connections. Even till date, he’s got a reputation for being Hollywood’s most fabled and influential fixers. Sydney Korshak was brought in to straighten things out and none of the cast knows what actually happened but by the end, Al got to play his most iconic and career-launcher role of Michael Corleone and Robert De Niro was given the big role in ‘The Gangs That Couldn’t Shoot Straight’, boosting his career too. During the Anniversary, Al laughed about how by the time the Godfather had finished shooting, he was broke and owed $15,000 to lawyers!
The Godfather, released in 1972 to become a cult classic. The movie is about Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and the struggles of the Corleone family in the quest for regaining power. The second part released in 1974 and is about Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) acting as the new Godfather and Vito Corleone’s younger self (Robert De Niro) and his rise to power. A third part was released in 1990, starring Pacino as the lead again but didn’t fare so well among fans. The first two movies have an IMDb rating of 9.0 above and only three movies have this, the other being The Shawshank Redemption, making it pretty self-explanatory how brilliant the movies are. The first part won three Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and the second part bagged five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director.
If you haven’t yet watched the trilogy, it’s high time you did. In my opinion, The Godfather Trilogy is one of Hollywood’s biggest contribution to the World of Cinema. The Trilogy successfully engrosses us into the world of mafia, crime, and power and by the end of it, you won’t feel like getting out. But again, that’s the beauty of film-making, isn’t it?
Trivia: During the shooting of The Godfather, Al Pacino and co-star Diana Keaton got drunk after a long shoot one day and laughed on about how this was probably going to be the worst movie ever made!